A Day Chasing High Mountain Cutthroats

In Flyfishing, Image by rge1960

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August 23rd 2014


Damn poor selfie

I set out in the morning headed for one of my favorite westslope cutthroat rivers in SE British Columbia.  The weather was a little overcast and the morning temperature was around 15°C as I left Edgewater and headed south on Hwy 95  and the further south I traveled the better the weather became.  Along the way I was thinking about the day and where I should set my destination on the river to be. 

Should I start in the canyon and work my out into the open and the big bend? 

Should I start at the confluence of one of the main tributaries? 

Then I remembered a rumour that I had heard.  It involved quite a bit longer trek up the FSR to a kilometre board past 50 to a smaller creek that flows in and was rumoured to have cutts in excess of 18″ and the odd one over 20″.  I had never been up this far before and was unsure of the access roads and if they were still in service.  It was at this point that I wished I had brought my Garmin Montana GPS with the latest topo maps.  I mulled it over for a few more miles and before leaving the pavement and hitting the gravel of the FSR I had made up my mind to spend the first half of the day exploring and see if the rumours were true. 

While working my way up the FSR the cloud cover increased just a bit and the temperature settled out at 22°C.  A perfect temperature and cloud cover for the day that may induce a nice drake hatch.  One could hope. 

As I approached where I thought the creek entered the main river I started looking for a logging road that entered the notch in the valley.  The road was in OK shape and there was a section that had been repaired from a washout but nothing that the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATroutchaser Jeep couldn’t handle. Now, where to go on the creek?  I drove for a while and looked for a location where I could park without being on the main road and not require a lot of bushwacking.  Sure enough about 5K up the stem road I found my spot.

I put on my gear, rigged up my 7′ 9″ 5wt based off of a Perfectionist taper with my older Hardy Perfect lined with a 5wt Terenzio silk flyline and headed out onto the water.  I looked around and didn’t see any bug activity at this time but hey, they’re cutties so I tied on a tan parachute hopper in a size 10.  Once the fly was attached it was time to approach the water.  First thing I noticed was how slippery the rocks were compared to the main stem of the river.  I have a good pair of rubber soled Simms wading boots and I was still slipping and sliding as worked my way down to the first run. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The run was a beauty as it tumbled over some rocks at the head end and worked into a nice pooled run before tumbling over the next set of rocks.  I took a look at the run and targeted a fishy looking spot just of the head of the pool and at the edge of a large boulder that created a soft backwater spot.  I made a soft 20′ cast to just off the leading edge of the rock and as the hopper landed and made its way just past the nose of the boulder it was whacked hard by a cuttie so aggressive that the fish came at least a foot out of the water.  The fly held and after a dogged fight up and down the run a beautiful 15″ pure strain westslope cutthroat came to hand.  

After bringing 4 more clones to the first cutthroat OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto hand I decided to move up-stream and fish the next holding spot. While on the move to the next small run I dropped my fly behind every rock and dimple on the stream and was rewarded with more fish.  Each of these was of a smaller size in the 11″-13″ range which was encouraging to me that there were smaller juvenile fish in the system.  When fishing I have a personal rule that after 3 or 4 fish out of one section of water I move on to the next and let that area rest.  I continued to do this for the next 4 or 5 runs and pools until I came around a bend and found a very nice pool that was alive with rising fish. The parachute hopper was still on the end of my tippet and was getting rather tattered at this point and since the fish were rising but no adult OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdrakes were on the surface I decided to go to the old stand-by, the Woven Klinkhammer in black and grey. On the second drift thru the run the biggest fish of the day rolled on the fly and I was into 18″ of magic.  The fish came to the net and was quickly released back into the run after a quick picture. The hatch continue for another 45-50 minutes and then slowly tapered off.  I broke my fish on rule on this pool and put 6 or 7 good fish either in hand or in the net and had a wonderful time as the fish became more and more picky as the hatch died off.

All in all I spent about 5-6 hours on the water of this smallish creek and lost OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcount of how many fish I had the pleasure of hooking into.  The afternoon was winding down and the shadows were getting long in this narrow valley so I decided to move down the valley to one of my favorite runs on the main river, have a BBQ smokie and then enjoy the night fish before the longish drive out to the highway which would take me back to my home away from home.

Some times the rumours payoff and sometimes they don’t.  This is one of those days where the perseverance to pursue paid off.