Saturday arrived with plans for a camping trip as Silvia was able to divorce her work responsibilities and join us for the weekend. The truck was packed full of fishing gear, tents, sleeping bags, more fishing gear, cooking supplies, food and did I mention fishing gear? We were ready and off to the Oldman River with a quick stop on the Crowsnest River. Each river presented its own unique landscapes and new angling challenges. The Crowsnest River was nestled in a very intimate valley surrounded by mature trees in the foothills of the Rockies providing a feeling of solitude.
This beautiful setting was where I experienced my first Cutthroat Trout. These aggressive fish seem to have no inhibitions when a dry fly is presented and strike with reckless abandon. Blessed with another beautiful day, it was smiles all around. The Crowsnest offered gorgeous runs, deep pools, bedrock outcrops, and woody debris all of which conconcealed and harboured trout. We fished out the afternoon capturing a number of small Rainbows and Cutthroat before the grumbling of our bellies convinced us it was time to select a campsite and set up for dinner.
A short drive later we were on the banks of the Oldman River selecting our camp site. We were not the first ones to arrive as that location is evidently a well known and utilized camping destination accompanied by not only one but two outhouses. Altough outhouses are present I would suggest you enter at your own risk…or better yet, just don’t. Seriously. After quickly setting up Dave and Sil’s tent, my spacious guest room was erected and I was able to sit back and fully appreciate the surroundings. The landscape was drastically different than that experienced two hours earlier on the Crowsnest. We were now situated in the massive pasture lands of Waldron Ranch which spans over 60,000 acres backdropped by the foothills of the Rockies.
The open landscape did not provide much in the way of relief from the winds which were quickly intensifying as they gained force from the mountains. After a quick supper in camp, followed by proactively securing the tents and sheltering them behind the truck, we were back out on the banks of the river to fish out the evening. (Though the evening fish was less than productive, the sunset provided great photographic opportunities which are soon to be hanging on the walls of my rec room.) We closed out the evening reminiscing around the campfire while being entertained by a light show provided by a passing storm.
In the morning, we were greeted with cloudy skies and a damp chill but our spirits were high in anticipation of another day spent on the river. Silvia graciously offered to stay and pack up camp and urged Dave and I to hit the river. A man can only be told so may times to fish before he breaks (once) and within minutes we were on the hunt for trout again. The morning bite yielded a few nice fish, however, not as productive as we anticipated. With the weather turning we headed back to join Silvia at camp for a quick lunch before shifting our efforts upstream. A big thanks to Silvia for breaking down camp since the heavens unleased a furry of mothball-sized hail as we frantically packed up the few remaining items and leapt into the shelter offered by the truck. The thunderous sounds of hail smashing against the truck had us cringing as we left the site. When the hail finally subsided, the ground was white with ice reminiscent of a recent animated Disney blockbuster, however we managed to refrain from breaking into the chorus of “Let it Go”.
A few kilometers later we arrived at our next destination further upstream on the Oldman River. With free range cattle in the backdrop watching our angling techniques, Silvia managed to land our first Bull Trout of the day. Though not a monster it was a perfect specimen of Alberta’s dominant predator trout.
A few drifts later I managed my first Alberta Bull. The recent decision to relocate was reaffirmed by the flurry of Rainbows, Cutthroat and small Bull Trout. We even caught a glimpse of a badger (yes a badger) scaling the valley wall across the river. Though the periodic thunder and hail breaking the crest of the mountains kept us on high alert, we were blessed us with a “circle of happiness” which seemed to direct the storms in alternative directions.
This trip was full of exhilerating firsts for me! With yet another amazing day that will forever be etched in my memory, we loaded up the truck and traveled back to Calgary discussing the weekends events and wondering how the next couple days could possibly top it. Unbelievably they did.
Many thanks to Phil for taking the time to write this post, we look forward to the next adventure with you!