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Needles in the Haystack

"Think again buddy, that creek's loaded with fish," a friend told me, about what I considered a write-off piece of water. The reason that I never considered fishing this creek is the fact that, where it forms a confluence with the river near town, it is dried up during the summer. What I was told is that it flows quite well above town, but it takes an underground route, rather than flowing straight into the river, therefore producing what appears to be a dried up creek bed near town.

Tim casts a fluffy dry fly at some unsuspecting victimsSo we headed up that familiar gravel road and stopped at the bridge that crossed the creek. I had my 3 weight strung up with a short, stubby, half-used leader of about 12 lb. test and on the end of it, I tied on a #10 Royal Wulff. Not exactly a Stauffer Creek setup, but I thought it would do on this creek. I scouted out a nice spot right below a small waterfall and punched out my line for the first cast of the day. "FISH ON!" I heard coming from upstream. It was obvious Tim caught one first cast, before my fly even hit the water. Right when he said that, I saw a little splash right at my fly. BOOM! Double header on our first cast each. A dynamite creek it was indeed. The average sized fish was around 6-8 inches which was expected, but the neatest part of that day was this decent, fat lil' 10 incher, sitting right against one of the banks. This fish was doing a perfect imitation of a monster brown.

First cast, my fly went over it; it changed feeding lanes and non-chalantly sipped down my #10 Royal Wulff, like it was a small midge. Damn fish! I missed it and stung it too. All of a sudden I see Tim over my shoulder firing a cast at it. Obviously Tim wanted a piece of the action. It's little shadow moved from under the bank and like a bat out of hell, it smacked Tim's offering. It's sad to say, but we lost that fish another 3 times and then it gave up on us. I didn't mind because every pocket we fished had 2-3 fish in it. I finished my day at a nice corner pool, where I pulled out about 10 trout on 10 casts. I think that was a pretty good way to end the day.

Andy fishing a corner pool that was loaded with troutTwo other creeks that we discovered last summer were ones which we would have been embarrassed to be seen on, had they not had trout. They were on the way to a popular tourist area, but no one ever would have thought of stopping to fish them. The first one we fished had some very nice pools that contained some of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. They had a nice bluish tinge to their sides, as well as amazing bright red bands along them. We caught so many unsophisticated trout on this creek, it was just plain silly, especially after fishing some of Alberta's small brown trout streams earlier in the year. This was my redemption. The fish gods had been punishing me for so long, it was my turn to punish them. (damn brown trout)

One of the many beautifully coloured rainbows taken from a small creek One of the biggest surprises of last summer was on the drive down from one of our favorite lakes. This lake is stocked, but it has limited reproduction as well, producing some huge trout. We were driving with the windows down, until I demanded that we stop. I heard some flowing water deep down in the bush and with lots of time on my hands, I wanted to investigate. There was an extremely tiny creek that was so thick with bush we almost immediately wrote it off. The only places I could cast were pretty close to the road and even in these spots I had to do an awkward sideways roll cast/dabble with my fly. My rod tip was pretty much touching the water on the first cast, when an all too familiar event happened. As I skidded my dry fly against the current one trout grabbed it, no wait two, actually three. Oh look, there's a fourth. Hey, it's a fifth skulking in the shadows. Wowsers, five trout battling for my fly! I could live with that any day of the week, especially on another creek that I guarantee no one ever fishes. Just another day at the office in the west.

Obviously this place wasn't on the list of places to fish last summer, but sight fishing to little trout with dry flies was sure a blast These creeks were such a blast, that we needed to share the experience of fishing them with Nick and Trevor. As they met up with us, there was no need to fish these creeks because we discovered another one with them! This one was by far the best of the bunch, and the most unique as well. It had awesome pocket water that a creek fishing guru would drool over, and enough fish to provide any angler with hours of excitement. The water changed from deep, log covered pools, to undercuts and side channels that you could walk over. And yes, these side channels were loaded with trout too! Trevor decided he would call this one "yankee creek" because it reminded him of some of the picturesque New England trout streams, or the nice free-flowing brooks of the Catskills. We agreed, because of the diverse water and the banks covered with dark green foliage and moss.

Andy fishing some tiny waterAll four of us found a way to fish this creek at the same time, but Trevor was especially excited to get to the next pools. I picked up the scraps after all three of them, which produced a fish a cast anyway. All in all, we probably landed close to 80 a piece in a little over two hours. (not too bad!) This creek was now engraved in all of our hearts as being a truly special place. The fish were all forgiving when it came to taking flies and they were some of the nicest, if not the nicest coloured rainbows I have ever seen. Trevor could only compare one of the bigger ones he caught to a golden trout because of its brilliant gold and red sides.

Trevor delivers a delicate cast over a fish infested run

Previous to Nick and Trevor's arrival, we headed out to the headwaters of one of the area's small creeks. The nice, slow water meandered it's way through meadow surroundings up high on the mountain. This was completely different than down below, where the creek tumbles over boulders and a gravel bottom. We fished the upper reaches by pounding hopper patterns against the tall grass banks. This produced some nice fish, and a bunch of them too. The funniest thing happened when Tim cast a Chernobyl Ant near the bank. The fish boiled for it : it missed the fly: Tim popped it back towards himself like a bass popper, it smoked it again, and Tim had this fish smash the fly 5 times on one retrieve!

This was again a unique place, that not many people would consider fishing. So if you're driving out to your favorite hot-spot this summer with your windows rolled down, and you hear flowing water in the bush, stop and have a look. You might find yourself a piece of hidden gold in the west's treasure box. Better yet, if you find yourself off the beaten path, go explore some bush. You might just find a needle in the haystack.

Andy Tchir, WesternSportfishing.ca

Written by: Andy Tchir

Email: andy@westernsportfishing.ca