Alberta Fly Fishing Heaven: Part 2


It was cool and dry in the mountains when we arrived on July 11th, 2016 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 that 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.

The Crownsnest Angler

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 we did. 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. As it turned out it was a great decision. 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.

Phil with a beauty!

After that fish, I switched over to a Purple Haze dry fly with a black ant dropper. That was the tick on this day!  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.


A big, healthy cutthroat trout


Unfortunately my trip was cut short. Thursday morning after breakfast I became dizzy and weak. I barely made it to my bed in the tent to lie die. I called over Phil and Gerald Konrad, who is a doctor. Gerald took my pulse and immediately told me I was having a heart attack. He quickly went to his tent to get an aspirin while Phil emptied his truck. Ten minutes later I was loaded in the front seat. There was no cell service in the area, so after a stop at the fire control centre down the road, we headed over the mountain to Blairmore. A nurse was waiting with a wheelchair and after two hours in emergency I was on my way to Foothills Hospital in Calgary in the back of an ambulance.

One week and one stent later I made it back to Winnipeg. Fast action by my friends at the campsite helped limit the damage. Thanks Gerald and Phil for everything you did! Since that time my health has been excellent and I have enjoyed many more fishing adventures. Looking forward to another trip in the future to the trout waters of southern Alberta.


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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