A Close Encounter


dsc_2375It was cool and dry in the mountains when we arrived on July 11th for our semi-annual fly fishing trip to the Crowsnest Pass region. Two years ago the streams and rivers in the region had been fairly high and fast. Totally different conditions greeted us this year and that was a good thing. Water conditions were relatively benign, with lower water levels and medium flow. In fact, when talking to Vic Bergman the first night, he said he was hoping for rain for the next couple of weeks in order to increase the flows a bit. Vic owns “The Crowsnest Angler” fly shop, a must stop in Bellevue. I have known Vic for years and he was to recommend us five key dry flies for our adventure.

After spending some money, we headed back to the Highway #22 turnoff and away we went to the Livingston River. Here we would set up camp for the next few days of fishing in the region. Our first day of fishing saw us try “The Gap”, a very famous upper middle section of the Oldman River. Unfortunately angling pressure, along with rain and severe wind gusts limited our effort that first day.  Any attempt to get a dry fly into the wind was usually rebuffed in the section we were fishing. Our other team of anglers had picked a section in which they could cast down wind into the current. As a result, they caught more fish than us. Still, another lesson learned and adjustments made so we were ready for day two.

Friend Phil Brake and I headed out to a different section of The Oldman, one in which we really hadn’t tried in previous years. Wow, did we make the right call. In our second pool, Phil hooked a real nice cutthroat in the 20 inch range, that gave him a battle right to the end.  He was using a Pale Morning Dun, with a black ant dropper off the back. After that fish, I switched over to a Purple Haze dry fly with a black ant dropper. Wow, did that ever work!  Now both Phil and I had pretty much non-stop action for the rest of the day.

While we still caught some fish on a couple of the other dries, this one proved to be number one this week. Unfortunately for me my trip was cut short. Thursday morning I suffered chest pains and had to make a trip to the hospital. One week and one stent later I made it back to Winnipeg. I should be back on the water shortly though. Fast action by my friends at the campsite helped limit the damage. It also helped that one of my friends on the trip is a medical doctor. He got me aspirin and on the road to the hospital in five minutes after recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack. Thanks Gerald and Phil for everything you did!


About Author

Don Lamont - The Complete Angler Don Lamont has been a full time professional angler for 34 years, hosting and producing the award winning “The Complete Angler” television series for fifteen of those. Don has received several awards for his commitment to public education and the future of recreational fishing in Canada. Those include a 2000 Canadian Recreational Fisheries Award for his work with Manitoba’s Urban Angling Partnership. In 2003 he received a Manitoba Tourism Award for his promotion of Manitoba and western Canada. In 2004 he was a finalist at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada National Award for Tourism Excellence, presented by The Globe and Mail. Don has been a regular fishing columnist in the Winnipeg Free Press since 1992 and is currently editor of Hooked Magazine.

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