Michel, ma belle!


Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to spend a day on the water with my good friend, Herb Vitale, of Lynchburg, Virginia. It had been a year or two since Herb fished for cutthroat trout in BC, so we headed over to one of his favourite streams in the area, beautiful Michel Creek.

Over the years, Herb has fished some of the finest trout streams in the U.S. and Canada. As a young boy growing up in New York State, Herb spent many a day fishing the waters flowing through the Catskill Mountains, including the fabled Willowemoc and Beaverkill rivers.

Later on, Herb moved to Virginia and quickly discovered all of the wonderful trout waters flowing through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The San Juan River in New Mexico was another place he frequented. Herb also made treks to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, where he fished some of the most highly regarded trout streams in North America – those in and around Yellowstone National Park.

During the summer of 1984, Herb travelled north of the border to Calgary, Alberta, to fish the renowned Bow River. Herb arrived a couple of days early and thought it would be nice if he could find a small stream to fish while waiting to float the Bow. He visited a local fly shop and spoke with a helpful fellow by the name of Jim McLennan, working behind the front counter. Jim suggested he try the Crowsnest River, about a two-hour drive southwest of Calgary.

Herb took Jim’s advice and made the trip to Crowsnest Pass. He fell in love with the place immediately and returned the following year. Herb’s wife, Linda, joined him in 1986 and they have been coming back each summer, ever since. This year (2017) marks their 32nd annual fishing trip to Crowsnest Pass, and it’s the 34th time Herb has visited the area. That’s an amazing accomplishment, if you ask me. Herb and Linda have many friends around these parts and we hope to see them for years to come!

I have not had the pleasure of fishing in the Catskills of New York, but have seen photographs and images of some of its legendary trout streams, such as the Willowemoc, Beaverkill, and others. Some of these waters appear similar in size and character to ours, and are every bit as beautiful as the Crowsnest River and Michel Creek. I suspect this is something Herb has known for many years, and perhaps it’s part of the reason why he enjoys fishing our waters as much as the ones he spent time on in his youth.

Below are a few photos of Herb fishing for cutthroat trout on Tuesday.



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  1. Jim Impara September 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Hi Vic,

    I just talked to Herb and he directed me to your blog. My wife, Barbara and I along with Herb and Linda fished with you on the Castle way back when. Herb also took us to Michel in the early 90s. A truly beautiful spot. We have retired in Colorado (from Nebraska) and now get to fish some really nice water on a regular basis.

    Thanks for the blog and posting the photos of our longtime friend and those beautiful cuts.

    • Vic Bergman September 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi Jim,

      It’s nice to hear from you. It had been a while since I was able to spend a day on the water with Herb and we had a great time. I’m glad to hear you’re getting out fishing regularly. Thanks for commenting.

    • Bob Vitale September 5, 2017 at 8:57 am #

      Dear Vic & Jim Impara,

      Since I know him much better than both of you I can tell you that Herb is a mean and terrible person as well as an awful fly fisherman. Obviously I am just kidding and glad as he is that you guys spent some quality time together. My only wish is that it continues for many years. I know that is asking a lot when you get older but I still want it to keep on keepin’ on for all of you. I will always miss Michel but I have a beautiful picture of myself fishing alone on a great pool hanging in my hallway thanks to Herb. I am all by myself and Herb says that would be quite unlikely nowadays. I can believe that and it is all Bob Redford’s fault for making that movie which got a gazillion people fishing with a fly. My best to all. Bob Vitale

      • Vic Bergman September 5, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

        Hi Bob,

        I’m looking forward to seeing Herb & Linda again next year!

  2. Terry Maurer August 21, 2017 at 11:41 pm #

    Vic :

    Glad to see someone has the timing down on when to skip across the border to the Michel; I never seem to hit it right on that very pretty stream. And, even when I’m there near the right time, and fish logjams like your photos …. the cutties seem to be napping.

    Have a great wind down to your season and I’ll see you next year.

    Re: s to all


    • Vic Bergman August 22, 2017 at 7:33 am #

      Hi Terry,

      We had a fun day on Michel. There was a green drake hatch going on and the cutties were coming up for them. Wherever you find logjams on Michel, you usually find fish. You just have to keep them from trying to go under the logs when you have one on the end of your line. Hope your summer is going well. Look forward to seeing you next year!

  3. Bob Vitale August 20, 2017 at 10:37 am #

    Dear Vic,

    You probably don’t remember me as I’m very unmemorable, but the first two or three years we met with you and fished the Crow, Bow, and other rivers. It was me with Herb, since Linda was still working and had not yet become the monster fly fisherwoman she is now. I even floated the Castle with you the day after a guy was mauled by a silvertip. Luckily, he made it. I live on Longboat Key on the west coast of Florida and still catch a few fish. My wife catches many more and my holiday gift to her a few years ago was to keep her rods rigged and fillet the ones (such as grouper) we wished to eat. Can’t claim it is total catch and release. Thanks for showing my gimpy brother a great time on MC which I have a great photo of me fishing the same water from 1998 on the wall. At that time we had the stream all to ourselves and no fees were charged. Things have changed ever since Bob Redford made “A River Runs Through It,” based on Norman McLean’s novella which I read 100 years ago. (please excuse any spelling mistakes) Yours truly, Bob

    • Vic Bergman August 20, 2017 at 11:30 am #

      Hi Bob,

      Sure, I remember you. How could I forget! I remember the float trip you guys made on the Castle River. That was quite a few years ago. Herb and I talked about it the other day. We had a great time together on Michel Creek and the cutthroats were very happy to see your brother. He sure knows all the best places to find fish over there. I’m sworn to secrecy!

      The book, “A River Runs Through It,” is a classic. Everyone should read it, or at least watch the movie. Thanks for commenting. It was nice to hear from you!

      • Bob Vitale August 20, 2017 at 11:57 am #

        Dear Vic,
        Thanks for the quick reply. Glad to hear you still remember me as I certainly remember you. Glad Herb is still able to move a bit, although it’s not like the days when we fished from 10 to 10. Afraid those days are over but I’m happy that Herb & Lin can keep their streak at the Sara’s going. Have to say I miss all you guys (you, George, Eric, etc., etc.) Still, I am looking out the window for manatees and looking forward to an 80% solar eclipse tomorrow afternoon. I’m afraid I can’t get it in gear to go up to North Carolina for the full solar but I have seen one or perhaps two in my life. My daughter saw a total from the top of a Mayan pyramid in Mexico a while back. That must have been quite special. Say hi to the fish from me. Bob

        • Vic Bergman August 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

          Hi Bob,

          Tomorrow’s eclipse will be a partial one here, too, around 80% – about the same as what you will see. We have family in Charleston, SC, where they will see it at 100%. People are going there from all over to watch. Apparently, all the hotels are booked solid. You must have a nice view from your place if you can see manatees from your window. Take care!

  4. Jody Hauschild August 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

    Loved your voice and photos, as you told a beautiful story of how my Dad has hooked many spectacular fish & wonderful people, while fishing his way through life! Thank you for sharing!

    • Vic Bergman August 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

      Hi Jody,

      You are very welcome. I’m glad you liked the post! I almost didn’t bring my camera to Michel Creek, but I’m glad I did take it. The first time I met your Dad was when we bumped into each other on the Crow. I believe it was 1988. He was, and still is, as nice a guy you could meet. I met your Mom a year or two later. She was, and still is, equally as nice, and is a really good fly-fisher, too! I wish she could have joined us on Tuesday. Your parents are an amazing couple and I’m sure you are very proud of them. They are always friendly, appreciative, and complimentary when talking about the fishing in Crowsnest Pass. If it was up to me, I would bestow them honorary Canadian citizenship. Thanks for your comments!

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