So I'll start off by saying I first started talking to Chris, about a year ago or so. We found common ground in gossiping about someone we both equally shared annoyance with. How silly, two "adults" gossiping over the internet like a couple of high schoolers, really mature right? Well, fast forward about 6 months and we started talking about a trip over here in my neck of the woods during what I would deem primetime for Bulls in Alberta, and also a good time of year for trout that will never see a great lakes canal, or "river" or whatever you want to call those mud holes over there. Pissing a lot of people off as I write this I know and Chris is rolling his eyes as he reads through this because of the hard time I gave him all week for the "steelhead" they "slay" over there. It's okay Chris, I give west coasters just as much of a hard time about the silly fish they have that take ridiculous amounts of skill to catch..... But I digress.
Fast forward another 3 months after a couple phone calls, I was starting to have my doubts, thinking this guy was all talk and wouldn't really make it out here. Around May we started talking about dates, and by June he had his plane ticket booked. Albeit, the week before that I had actually booked off from work, which was a bit of speed bump, none the less it was actually happening. I did mention to Chris when he came not to bring any rain... We'd been experiencing a year where rain was something we hadn't seen in any large quantities, a drought some would call it, a lot of rivers were at September levels in early July. Frightening to say the least, because anglers all over were really anxious about our driest month of the year, August.
I have to hand it to Chris, I fish with some guys who at times seem determined, but he really stuck it through. I think what helped was he got his first bow river trout, a stunning upper bow river brown on a big foam dry fly on the first night, the pressure was already off. The following morning we headed west, to this fabled bull trout river that's now seeing what a northerner like myself and the original Calgary weekend warriors would call too much pressure, largely in part due to social media, and the fact that nothing down south is truly a secret anymore. You'll find some things still tucked away but for the most part, boots have already been put to the ground. Again only about a couple hours into the morning Chris stung his first bull trout, a pretty nice bull considering most peoples firsts are rarely ever a mature bull. Huge sigh of relief for me, all these guarantees I had made had already been met.
We spent the first half of the week chasing bulls in the south but got really tired of the crowds, even on weekdays counting upwards of a dozen vehicles along a stretch of river at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon we decided to make a run for the north country, gravel roads and less crowds, and waters that I felt needed a revisit, waters that I spent growing up on. I was hesitant driving into the huge black cloud that seriously looked like it engulfed all of Central Alberta and the entire valley we were driving into. The thoughts of blown out rivers really started to consume my mind, and as always, every time I manage to squeeze prolonged periods of time off for fishing, the weather NEVER cooperates. Of course, the one week I take off, we get this stuff called rain, which I explicitly told Chris not to bring with him.
But we got lucky. None of the rivers became un-fishable and we found fish everywhere we went. We managed to scare up some absolutely stunning cutthroat in a river that I actually caught my first cutthroat on, and from there the memories just came flooding back from my earlier days on the river with my dad. It was bittersweet, I totally gave up on this river mostly due to increased traffic and small fish, but what we found was much more than a pleasant surprise. The trout just could not leave my hopper alone. Every little nook I pulled perfect, fat, plump cutthroat out of, no smileys, no missing maxillaries, just perfect trout. However apparently they dont teach dry fly fishing over in Ontario, because this goof couldn't trick a cutt. Finally he managed to get one, in the most prestigious fashion. The purist definition of fly fishing, a bobber, 9' of leader, a golden stone trailed by a hares ear. He nabbed one, and it didn't take more than a dozen casts. He crossed bull trout, cutthroat, cutt-bow, and a brown trout off his list in Alberta. He deemed it a success.
After 2 1/2 long days on the river we were pressed to start making our way back to Edmonton, and sure enough we were greeted by more rain clouds, and with this infatuation of bull trout, we decided ripping streamers in the dropping visibility was our best bet, and to give them one last crack before Chris left, we showed up to about 1' of awesome visibility. I guess this whole visual bull trout attacking concept was gone, fishing blind was difficult, but with persistence we found 2 nice fish.
We really put on the miles throughout the week, on our feet and my poor ridgeline that is in desperate need of a cleaning right now. Chris was more than satisfied, you could barely wipe his ridiculous smile off his face every time we'd turn the corner on the trunk road with these massive hills in view we call mountains, and fishing with him really put things into a new perspective for me. That perspective is, we take Alberta for granted, we might have shitty winters, but the places you can spend the short 4 months of summer are pretty spectacular, and the fishing, well that isn't half bad either. I write a lot of this stuff with a tongue in cheek mentality, I find humour in pushing peoples buttons, but I keep in mind, its all just fishing, and we're out there to have a good time, something I felt that I was losing last year, but quickly regained those feelings this year. I titled this the futility of persistence, because usually at first sign of bad conditions I myself, begin to doubt our "assured" success. I learned a lot through this week, and our efforts were definitely greeted with rewards.