Today is the day many southern Alberta stream anglers have been looking forward to since the end of last October when the 2016 fishing season came to a close. Their long 7-1/2 month wait is finally over. It’s opening day of the 2017 fishing season!
Although it’s possible to fish a couple of local trout streams year-round, there are a lot more options available when everything is open. A number of rivers, including the Crowsnest and some of the nearby headwater streams, are in good shape for opening day. It’s not unusual for everything to be high, discoloured, and unfishable on June 16th, but that’s not the case this year.
Despite the above-average snowpack in the mountains, the spring runoff has been gradual on all of our rivers. We didn’t receive excessive amounts of rain in May or early June, as we sometimes do. Warm temperatures, heavy rain, and melting snow can lead to serious problems. This combination of events did not materialize, and that’s a good thing. Water levels went up on all the streams in the area but nothing out of the ordinary occurred, and they are receding and clearing nicely. As long as there are no surprises around the corner, fishing conditions will only become better with each passing day.
This past Monday, I had the opportunity to spend the day on the Crowsnest River. I fished the lower reaches, downstream of Highway 3, a section which remains open to fishing year-round.
The salmonfly stonefly hatch has been in progress on the river for a couple of weeks and I was hoping for some dry-fly action. Unfortunately, there were no salmonfly adults to be seen anywhere, at least not where I was fishing. My only decision now was whether to start off using a dry fly or nymph pattern. I chose the latter.
Nymph fishing was productive from the start, and almost every run held an eager trout or two, waiting to grab a stonefly pattern drifting deep in the current. Near the end of my outing, I switched to a dry fly, a large, orange-bodied Stimulator. Within a few casts, a decent size fish rose to the surface and took the bushy fly. I landed the rainbow trout and then realized it was time to head home. As I was walking back to my vehicle, I wondered why I hadn’t tried a dry fly sooner. Next time!