Friday July 27, 2018

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Canada – Trout in the Rockies

Written by Alex Laurie

thumbJohn Kennedy and I went to Canada in August 2005 for a week. We flew from Glasgow to Calgary with Zoom and the flight was about 8 hours. We had booked a hire car over the ‘net, picked it up at Calgary airport and drove straight to Blairmore (maybe 2 – 3 hours) in the Crowsnest Pass in the foothills of the Rockies. Blairmore is only around 30 miles from the U.S. border in Montana.

Our ”standard” car (5.7L engine!) did OK but a 4X4 would have been useful at times.

We stayed in the Highwood Motel in Blairmore, Alberta. We chose Blairmore because we had a few rivers as options and also a couple of lakes as back-up.

wff-7-28-2012-1-48-16-PM-2007mar081173369273almost-thereHere is a link to accommodation in the area:

Eating out is cheap and there are plenty of places. Portions are immense in the Pure Country Saloon. John never finished one meal. Being a wee fatty, I did! The beer was crap, but we managed the odd gallon….

wff-7-28-2012-1-47-22-PM-2007mar081173369578whitefish-2 Blairmore is an ex-mining town and although the setting is good, the place itself is none too pretty. The same goes for the other towns in the Crowsnest pass, but we weren’t there as tourists!

The fishing was great. Not too difficult, with 99% of our fish (Cutthroat trout and wild Rainbows) taken on dry fly. I had around 150 fish in 7 days. Lots were between 1 and 2.5lb. I also had some Rocky Mountain Whitefish around 2lb 8oz, a Bull Trout around 2.5lb which grabbed a Cutthroat I was playing and a wee Brookie.

wff-7-28-2012-1-47-22-PM-2007mar081173369348bow-from-oldman We had our first day doing a float trip on an inflatable raft (with a guide) on the Elk River just over the state border in British Columbia. We had a great day in an 8 hour drift and I totally lost count of the numbers caught. I’ll definitely do that next time we go in August 2007, although to fish the Elk and some of the other British Columbian rivers designated as “premium waters” you need to pay extra.

We fished on our own after that on Albertan waters, which don’t require the additional permit.
We fished the Oldman (excellent and scenic), its tributary the Livingstone (full of good fish), the Racehorse, Castle, Crowsnest. They all have high populations of very good fish.. We had considered doing a float trip on the Bow River, which is world renowned and flows through Calgary, but decided against this in favour of spending more time in the Rockies wff-7-28-2012-1-47-22-PM-2007mar081173369441colourful-livingstone-cutt
For anyone considering fishing in the rivers which rise in the Rockies, be aware that the water-levels have the biggest effect on the fishing. July can be dodgy, because of the snowmelt, or run-off. We went for the 3rd week in August and had blistering sunshine for most days, one day of torrential rain, and sub-zero temperatures some nights. They had a heavy snowfall in the Crowsnest Pass within two weeks of us coming back to Glasgow on 20th August.

We got our permits from Vic Bergman at the Crowsnest Angler tackle shop in Bellevue, near to where we were staying. Vic Bergman was really nice and helpful and we arranged the float trip on the Elk through him.

wff-7-28-2012-1-47-22-PM-2007mar081173369500elk-cutt I did this via email and also got him to order some spare spools for my Lamson reel. I saved a lot on UK prices.

The annual Alberta licence was around £30 and you need a WIN card (Wildlife Identification Number) also at around £5. (see link)

If you want to fish the Elk or its tributaries, you need a BritishColumbia day ticket for it separately. It costs around £10.

Useful Links

Alex Laurie , now into his 50th year, has been fishing since the tender age of 12. He used to do a lot of coarse fishing and, until last year, held the Scottish bream record with a 10lb 4oz fish. Alex has fished all over the world, including Alberta Canada and has cast a fly in New Zealand for 5 out of the last 6 years. He prefers rivers, but loves our wild highland lochs too.

Alex works in property management, says he is a frustrated blues guitarist and lives with his very understanding partner Linda in Cambuslang near Glasgow.


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