Three days in Alberta

Life has a funny way of repeating itself.

This summer, as I was getting ready to visit Southern Alberta for a fews days off fishing with my brother, my wife turned to me and said, “Do you know what you were doing on this day 9 years ago?”

After a moment, I remembered that I was, again, getting ready to visit my brother (although the early trip was for a month of sailing in the south pacific).

The Alberta trip was, like a lot of trips, a few years in the making. We had tried before to get together for a few days, but the timing was never great. This summer, though, it was happening. Plans were confirmed, tickets were booked and the fishing gear was packed up for a few days of camping, fishing and the occasional beer.

Following a morning of visiting fly shops and tasks like that, we finally got our chance to do a bit of fishing in the Bow River.

I’d heard a lot of good things about the Bow, although my brother had barely fished it in all the time he’d been there. He took me to a spot nearby that had produced some fish before, but after an hour or so we hadn’t caught any.

The next spot turned up one beautiful Bow River rainbow. There were actually a few fish in that exact spot, they were schooling up around the fish I had hooked. It was kind of a neat experience.

The trip really didn’t start until the next day, when we got up early in the morning and drove south. We hit our first spot a couple of hours later and geared up.

There were a few things I was excited about at this point. The first was being able to spend three days fishing and exploring with my brother, something we hadn’t done since having kids. I was also thrilled to spend three days fishing rivers. I never get to do this. Any time I end up getting spend on moving water is smaller creeks that don’t hold fish of any real size.

This was a full-blown river with (very) decent fish based on pictures I’d seen.

About an hour after we got there the fishing turned on and what followed was some of the best fishing I’ve ever experienced. We were fishing dry-dropper combos. I was fishing a grasshopper pattern with a hare’s ear nymph on the bottom and the flies couldn’t stay off that hare’s ear. Not only were the fish extremely active, but they were a decent size too.

 

After a day and a bit on the first river, we moved south and eventually settled on a slightly more off the beaten path system.

The fish weren’t as big but they were just as eager to take a fly.

For me, the most interesting part of the weekend was watching my brother fly fish. We hadn’t had a chance to actually fish together since really taking up fly fishing, only a few brief attempts here and there. When it came to fishing, we were very different people. I have a tendency to rush through, go for the obvious spots and move on down the river.

My brother is a much more careful angler. He slowly and methodically works his way through pools, fishing every spot of water he can, looking for fish in places I’d never think to look for fish. It was interesting because it seemed contrary to who he was as a person, at least the person I grew up with who was impulsive and always making fairly questionable decisions (as a teen, anyway). That person seemed to vanish on the water, replaced by someone who took their time and was careful to explore a run thoroughly before moving on.

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Similarly, while I’m a more cautious and thorough person off the water, I become impatient on the water. Eager to get to the next spot to look for fish, while knowing full well they’re in there. I just have to do the right thing.

More importantly, I have to slow down and think about what that right thing might be.

That’s what I love about fishing. It forces me to slow down. It forces me to think about something different for a while. Sure, I’m often thinking about writing when I’m on the water, but it’s different. It’s not the frantic, “I have a deadline!!!” writing that fills my day-to-day. It’s a more relaxed kind of writing. The kind I do here.

That’s what watching my brother reminded me of. That I needed to slow down a little more when I’m out there.

It was a good trip. We both caught lots of fish and explored some beautiful places. I’m looking forward to doing another trip to this area next year. We’ll explore slightly different spots and spend a little longer doing so, all with the intention of finding fish.

Or, at the very least, tossing flies into the water and hoping for the best.

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