The answering strike connected with another Bow river brown trout that made a long powerful run downstream, after some minutes the barbless hook was slipped from the mouth of a fish weighing some two pounds, a small one by Bow river standards. It's a shallow wide river which is why it's a great dry fly river. It can be quite windy so I would advise a nine foot, six weight rod. Even a seven weight rod might prove useful. This was the third fish in five drifts. Overhead skeins of geese and small flights of duck were moving south for the winter. This was fly fishing as good as it gets anywhere in the world.
Hooded mergansers scuttled away as the Mackenzie type drift boat floated downstream. Dead pines washed away by the spring floods were piled up and wedged into grotesque shapes like a petrified forest. Green pines lay at various angles over the water like an octopus's tentacles, ready to catch any badly cast fly. The Bow river in September flowed between snow capped mountains. In places the river narrowed to barely a boats width. Ravens squawked in the pines. The odd osprey passed over head. What a delightful place to visit. That's the Bow River.
It all started at Clitheroe Travel when Nigel the manager said "Martin you certainly make me work for my commission" I had just given him an itinerary for my next trip abroad. I needed a cheap flight which included several destinations. My friend John Bodsworth from Sussex was joining me for the Alberta part of the trip. He would shoot the pictures when he wasn't fishing or bird watching After landing in Calgary, our first stop would be in the town of Canmore, about an hours drive from Calgary airport. We planned to stay in this delightful ex mining town for a few days where we would fish the world famous Bow river. We would then take a not-to-be-missed drive through the Jasper National Park to the town of Jasper for a few days of bird watching and hopefully some fishing. We would then drive back to Edmonton and take a flight by small plane to Fort McMurray, a destination in the north of Alberta for more fly fishing. This time our quarry would be pike and lake trout. We would be fishing with Allan Proulx and Tim Gillies of Air Mikisew/Mikisew Sports fishing. After a weeks fishing in the north, it would be back to Edmonton airport. Then John would fly back to the UK and I would go down to Orlando, Florida where I planned to spend a couple of weeks saltwater fly fishing at various venues including the Indian river hunting redfish before heading back to Manchester.
The cheapest flight I could get was through North West airlines from Gatwick which meant I had to take a shuttle flight from Manchester to Gatwick with British Airways, not my favourite airline. I still remember a statement BA made along the lines of "We are only interested in first and business class passengers". Not all of us have expense accounts for our trips abroad!
During my stay in Florida I was to be Master of Ceremonies for the "Hunt The Reds In October" tournament fished on the Indian River at Titusville. I would also meet up with a couple of friends, Rob from Oregon and Len from Tallahassee. All three of us planned to fish the Gulf of Mexico for sea trout, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and redfish. Hopefully one of us might even connect with a big tarpon. If we were really lucky all three of us would get hooked up to one of these big powerful fish.
At Gatwick I met up with John, then on to Minneapolis where we cleared customs. Sadly my luggage didn't get put on my flight. Not to worry I was told, it will get to Calgary. I was worried, I wasn't a happy person on the flight to our final destination. Arriving in Calgary, Alberta I was feeling rather tired after the long flight from the UK and needed wheelchair assistance. My multiple sclerosis really does cause me problems when flying. I was also very angry because my luggage hadn't shown up. In fact that was an understatement I was like a bear with a very, very sore head.
After filling in various forms. I was told I could spend 50 dollars on the first day then 25 dollars for each and every other day up to 150 dollars total for clothes etc. One doesn't buy much for that piffling total. Of course, with no luggage I quickly cleared customs. John went off and collected the rental car. After packing his gear in the boot, we drove off for Canmore losing our way a couple of times. This wasn't helped by arriving during the rush hour with thousands of motorists heading for home. Finally the third or fourth person we asked for directions told us to "Follow me and I will put you on the right road". What a wonderful gesture by a friendly Canadian.
About an hour later we checked into The Best Western Pocaterra Inn at Canmore. Quickly filling in the reservation cards we were directed to our rooms. I showered, changed into a shirt, socks and pants loaned by John then it was off to the nearest restaurant. As I don't eat airline meals I was feeling quite hungry so a good steak was chosen with all the trimmings and a glass of wine. As I sat trying to relax, I thought of my luggage, hoping it would arrive by morning. It didn't. In fact it never did arrive. I wasn't a happy fly fisher and I was certainly NOT relaxed!
Calgary has many attractions
Calgary is known world-wide for its huge Calgary Stampede which lasts some ten days. If you're in town at this time of the year don't miss this extravaganza. This is not one of those attractions put on for the tourists. This is the real thing. What you mustn't miss is the Chuck wagon races. Take some time out from fishing by visiting the local places of interest and don't forget to go shopping. The prices are right for the UK visitor.
You can relive Calgary's past on historic Stephen Avenue Walk where you can witness everything from sandstone late-Victorian to shiny post-modern glass cathedrals of commerce. Throughout the south you will find the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, especially in small towns like Airdrie, Olds, Brooks, Medicine Hat and Ponoka. Wherever you are, you should be able to find the spirit of the West. Edmonton, Alberta's capitol, where the recent World Athletic Championships were held, and Calgary to the south, are Canada's big boom towns with oil and gas reserves that have pushed this province to the forefront of the worlds energy markets. The province also has another feature to make it a world beater; one of the worlds great fly fishing venues!
The Bow River; featuring some 50 odd miles of excellent fly-fishing water I suppose, starts in the Banff area. It resembles a giant-size chalk stream with faster water and lush vegetation and with a tremendous head of aquatic life which allows the Bow river trout to grow big. There is the opportunity to catch large wild browns of perhaps eight pounds and of course big rainbow trout. Heavy caddis and mayfly hatches allow for spectacular dry fly-fishing. Fishing can take place from drift boats but wading is the norm. July is an excellent month for the green drake hatch according to Jamaica born John Samms of The Green Drake fly shop in Canmore. What a delightful friendly and knowledgeable guy John is. He certainly knows the river and its fishing. If it's a guide you want, choose John you won't do better (E-mail John email@example.com). One thing you will see on the river are the delightful beavers.
Another good time to visit is September. It's also the hopper season, so grasshoppers and caddis patterns are the usual fare. A San Juan Worm can often be a productive pattern along with Black and Brown Woolly buggers. Fishing streamers after dusk can often produce some big fish. Your guide will probably have all the flies you need but it's always nice to have some patterns in your fly box. If my luggage had turned up I would have had some size 14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, size 12-18 Parachute Adams, Parachute Hopper, size 16-18 Pheasant Tail nymphs and Stimulators 10's to 14's. But, as stated, the guide should have it all. After your days fishing with John Samms why not visit the Sherwood House at Canmore? This is a traditional log cabin that is part of Canmore's heritage. It's a cosy restaurant, with a varied international cuisine featuring buffalo, ostrich, caribou, top quality beef, award-winning pizza and vegetarian dishes. I can also recommend the mussels and the Bison steaks with all the trimmings. After an early dinner, you can, if you wish, go back out on the river for a dusk session and then return to your accommodation for a good night's sleep.
While we were in town John purchased a Nikon digital camera and saved over two hundred pounds compared with how much he would have paid in Britain. It's certainly a good place to shop. Work World in Canmore is an excellent place to visit for some good outdoor clothing at reasonable prices. It's certainly a place for a good bargain.
The Town of Canmore
What a delightful place the Town of Canmore is! Set in the Bow Valley amid the rugged majesty of the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, yet astride a major transportation corridor, Canmore is a community with a vision based on the conviction that environmental sensitivity and economic sustainability can be reconciled. Following its founding in 1883, Canmore served both as a railway division point and mining town. When the last coal mine closed in 1979, it was clear the community's economic viability would turn to rely on the developing tourism industry. In 1965, the Town of Canmore was formally incorporated with an elected mayor & council. Today, Canmore is the administrative centre for government services in the Bow Corridor. It has a present population of 9900 and is still growing. No way could you imagine this was a coal mining town, it's such a beautiful place.
Within the boundaries of Canmore, the municipal district of Big Horn #8 and Kananaskis Country (a 5200sq kilometre provincial recreation area 25 km south & east of Canmore), visitors and residents alike enjoy a diverse array of recreational activities. Renowned facilities such as the Canmore Nordic Centre feature world-class cross country, biathlon, hiking, bicycling, sled dog trails and the Nakiska Ski Area. Both sites were part of the 1988 Winter Olympics and there is also the Alpine Club of Canada. These are only just a few of the amenities attracting travellers to the area. Canmore shares it's Northwest boundary with Banff National Park with the Banff town site being a 20 minute drive west on the Trans Canada highway. Other mountain parks - Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper - are all within a few hours' drive.
A strong and talented cultural and art community provide a variety of quality local works displayed in private galleries, unique retail outlets and public exhibitions. Canmore's appetite for culture & heritage also lays claim to the reputable Heritage Day Folk Festival - Alberta's longest running folk-music celebration every August, the Canmore Highland Games in September and the International dog Sled Races each January.
The Rocky Mountains
As the oceanic & continental plates shifted, millions of years of sedimentary accumulation eventually gave shape to the Rocky Mountains. On the south & west side of the Bow Valley, mountains such as Three Sisters, Lady MacDonald, and Rundle Mountain are carved limestone and shale formations containing fossils of sea creatures that lived over 325 million years ago. When the ice retreated, life came to the valley. Over 50 species of wildflowers, native grasses and shrubs, stands of poplar, Douglas fir, spruce, and pine. The ecosystem supports elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, deer, wolf, cougar, black & grizzly bear, plus countless smaller species while other feathered friends such as golden and bald eagles, horned owls, osprey, and a sea of songbirds patrol the mountain lakes and valley floors. Rainbow, cut-throat, grayling and brown trout make their home in the Bow River and its network of streams.
Canmore's abundant natural and scenic resources are matched by the spirit and energy of it's people. The invigorating surroundings and friendly atmosphere of the town make it ideal for people of all ages. The community is a diverse mix of age groups, cultures, occupations, and talents united in a commitment to the town and the environment. In its delicate setting in the ecosystem of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is the perfect place for the fly fisher and family to stay. I have listed some of the events that take place in Canmore because not all the family fish and we fly fishers like to enjoy other interests.
During my stay in Canmore I stayed at the Best Western Pocaterra Inn. The staff and local residents were wonderful. I needed their kindness to get me through a week when Northwest airlines, having lost all my luggage, just didn't care. I had to telephone Northwest airlines in Calgary two, three, sometimes four times a day to see if my luggage had arrived. Sadly the answer was always no. In a time of heightened security one would think they would know where all the luggage was. Not Northwest airlines. They didn't know and they gave me the impression they didn't care. Thankfully the people of Alberta did care as did all the girls at Alberta tourism offices. To them all I say a big thank you.
There's a big difference between the upper Bow and the lower Bow. Above Calgary there are fewer fish and they are smaller. The upper river is a mountain freestone river. It's scenic but doesn't have the fish that the lower river has. The lower river below Calgary flows through the prairie land. The Crow's Nest and the Oldman are two other excellent rivers in the Calgary area which you should try and fish. The best advice I can give is to book a guide for at least one day. You will learn so much. All this in the world-famous breathtaking Rockies of Alberta which are legendary for their spectacular scenery.
In Alberta there are big tracts of wilderness where human beings still play second fiddle to the wildlife. The five national and sixty six provincial parks contain a healthy population of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, bears, wolves, bison and woodland caribou. Alberta is a mixture of prairie, boreal forest and mountains. It contains some three hundred bird species, ninety mammals, fifty species of fish big and small with one thousand seven hundred flowering plants.
The southern part of Alberta will impress you with its natural and cultural wonders. The heartland is magnificent with its prairies, grassy foothills and most of all, its sparkling rivers and lakes where you can get your string pulled on numerous occasions. Wherever you are in Alberta my advice is, take a canoe onto one of the wilderness lakes along with your fly fishing tackle, where I can guarantee you a beautiful day in the real wilderness with peace and beauty all around you. No mobile phones, fax machines, busses, trains or planes. You will have just the sound of the wilderness, the wind murmuring through the trees and the sound of your reel as another big fish bends your stick while you and other members of your family who fish enjoy some great sport.
The rest of the family will find plenty of things to do. Bird and wildlife watching, sailing, white water rafting, cycling, swimming horseback riding tennis or just a slow ramble through the wilderness. One attraction I would recommend is a three day canoe trip which involves sleeping in a "tepee" foraging for natural foods and a session of Native cooking. Alberta is one of those spectacular places that you as an angler will want to return to often. Casting a fly on one of the delightful rivers or lakes is certainly a pleasure indeed.
Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is another one of those places not to be missed by any fly fishers family, though I don't think it's the place to choose if you're a dry fly fisher just there for the fishing on the rivers. It's a place for all the family to enjoy. It's where I met Krista Roger of Jasper Tourism and commerce. What a kind, knowledgeable, efficient and helpful lady she was.
Jasper gets its name from two small trading posts. One of these posts was under the charge of Japer Haws, a Northwest Trading Company clerk. In 1817 he gave his name to this post, which first become "Jasper's House" and finally "Jasper House". This name was also given to the community around the post and eventually to the National Park. The post was moved in 1830 from Brule Lake to what is now the Devona Siding. The name "Jasper House" moved with it, although Jasper Hawes was long gone. This post was used until 1884 then abandoned. In 1927, Jasper House was declared a site of National historical significance, although only the ruins of several abandoned buildings remained. Because of the sites location, a plaque located on Highway 16 East was erected across the river from the meadow where Jasper House once stood.
Many people told me Jasper National Park is how national parks were meant to be, before traffic jams and tour buses took over. It's situated three and a half hours west of Edmonton or three hours north of Banff. You won't end up wondering what it must have been like 100 years ago because, apart from tarmac road and the other tourists, it's still exactly like it was. Only the town of Jasper has changed.
Revered as the largest tract of wilderness in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park has earned it's reputation by claiming the most extensive back country trail system in any Canadian park. Plus it's less developed. An absolute haven for wildlife. Elk, moose, mountain goats, woodland caribou, lynx, cougars, bears, coyotes and some 248 species of birds have been recorded in Jasper at various times of the year.
It's not all undeveloped wilderness. At it's very centre it's an unpretentious town loaded with cappuccino bars, bistros, great pubs, a pool hall and recreation centre, art galleries, a sushi joint, bakeries and boutiques full of affordable gear. Not the place for me but its certainly popular with the non fly-fishers. The flavour of Jasper's rich railway heritage is evident as the Heritage Railway station occupies a major portion of the downtown core. The Railway continues to employ many residents and the camaraderie of this small town is apparent to all visitors.
In the summer, the recreational opportunities are as endless as the nearby thunder of the Athabasca and Miette rivers. However, apart from the obvious heart-thudding adventures like rafting, caving, mountain biking, hiking (for weeks on end, if that's your fancy), climbing, even scuba diving - the No. 1 jaw dropper that actually forges the two historically rich parks of Jasper and Banff together is the 230km long Icefields Parkway, considered one of the world's most scenic drives. Don't forget the must-see Columbia Icefield Centre. Want to feel the earth move? This is it! Hop on board a Snocoach and glide up the tongue of the Athabasca Glacier for unparalleled views of Mother Nature.
My view was the very same view that struck awe in the railway workers, miners, explorers and Swiss guides who criss-crossed these valleys in the late 1800s. Today, you can follow their footsteps or blaze a new trail because they have left lots of the park alone. You could make the next bit of history, meaning there's history to made and things to do other than fly fishing. Why not take a look at the Travel Alberta Web site, www.travelalberta.com, there is also a free Alberta information pack available by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I received this from a friend of mine who, having heard about the loss of my luggage, told me about a guy who, having retired from one of the local industries in Oregon, was given 2 Loomis rods and a trip to Alaska. The rods were placed in a secure locked tube. When he arrived in Anchorage, the rod tube looked just fine. But after he got to the lodge, he opened the "lock" and found out that his rods had been replaced by a broom sticks. It was obviously a new rod carrier and some airline guy spotted it and guessed correctly that there were new fishing rods inside.
Many fly fishers in the north of England and Wales didn't get the chance to cast a fly on their rivers for salmon, brown or sea trout during 2001 season. Most of the game fishing waters on the rivers in the north of England such as the Aire, Ribble, Hodder, Lune Wharfe Swale Ure have been closed, as have many streams and rivers in Wales. At this time of the year many of us like to go out and cast a fly for grayling, sadly that's off limits for many of us.
If you're looking for some good fly fishing with lots of sunshine why not visit Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Jebel Ali hotel is one good place to stay. It's excellent beaches swimming pools, golf course, shooting range horse riding and much more. All the family will be happy while you're chucking flies in the ocean. Jebel Ali also has its own sports fishing boats. On my first ever trip some years ago all the fishing was done by trolling. On that first visit I showed the locals what great fly fish angling there was available in the Gulf by catching lots of hard fighting fish including a big jacks to 25lbs plus.
Apart from the boat fishing, there are many miles of sandy beaches and rocky outcrops, all are worth fishing. The Dubai creek is another venue. If your partner doesn't fish, they can explore the various souk's (markets) while you cast a fly for the many species of fish that inhabit the Dubai creek. There are also many small fishing harbours offering good fun fishing. All you need is a 9 foot rod matched with 5 or 6 weight floating line and a selection of bright coloured flies on hook sizes 10's and 12's.
Word Of Warning
A word of warning. Because of the disaster on September 11th we cannot now take our very costly three, four or five piece fishing rods on board our aircraft as hand luggage from the UK. Though the America air travellers can still do so in the States. If you have a costly fly reel, I suggest you take it in your partner's handbag. If that is allowed. Otherwise you have to trust all your costly equipment to the airlines and baggage handlers. Make sure you have plenty of insurance cover that will cover the cost of replacing your equipment. If you do lose your luggage, I hope you will be treated better than I was. I got the feeling that many of the airline staff didn't really care. They didn't call me. I had to call them. When I asked for a supervisor they gave me the telephone number of a supervisor who was away for the next three weeks. But then, many of them were probably losing their jobs because of the downturn in passenger traffic. I am lucky I have a job. I will pose a question. How are today's rod companies going to sell the four and five piece rods Now we cannot take them as hand luggage. It's much cheaper to buy a two piece rod.
I believe we owe it to the memory of all the victims of September 11 to keep on flying, keep on taking fishing holidays in the warmer climes, and not let the cowardly terrorists think they have won. As you read this I will be out in the Middle East fishing the Persian and Arabian Gulf. I will not stop flying around the world. If I did the terrorists will have won.
Next month I will take a look at the grayling and getting started in stillwater trout fishing. I will have some ideas for Christmas and tell you what it was like fishing the Gulf.
If you live in Lancashire, Cheshire, North Wales, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester or Merseyside tune in to "At The Waters Edge" programme on BBC Radio Lancashire Thursday evenings at 7-30pm Sunday afternoons at 5-30pm on 95.5, 103.9 or 104.5 FM. If you have any questions please E-mail me email@example.com Have a good month's angling and the tightest of tight lines to you all.