Stream Tender Magazine

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December  2019

This giant brook trout was quickly released back into the creek, after this photograph was taken.

Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly

Pattern tied by

Guy Woods

The Crisscross Nymph

    This little beauty is called the Crisscross nymph, due to the two ribbing wraps that are wrapped in opposite directions on the abdomen. This wrapping helps streamline the narrow abdomen and it adds some intriguing colors to the choice of dubbing that is used. The rib is copper wire/Mylar.

    The dubbing on the abdomen is a mixed grey/tan/brown blend of wool and poly. The thorax is a mix blend of squirrel and mink dubbing, with the guard hairs included.

    The tail feather is a lemon yellow, teal flank feather bundle, pinched from the quill. The legs are Indian hen fibres and the wing case is bleached Canada Goose quill, but a section of pheasant tail will do.

    All of this is put together on a 2X, size 12 or 14 nymph hook. A tungsten or brass bead is used, either gold or copper works fine. You can fish this pattern on a long leader with a dry fly line, for lake fishing. I like to strip it in in either short or long pulls.

Crystal Clear Waters And Brook Trout Spawning Over Clean Gravel

    It was one of those overcast skies that help make the clear water of the stream easier to see into. Just upstream of my approach, another pair of good size brook trout are in spawning mode. When I first spot the two trout, I knew it was time to go into a slow stealthy move into position, for a photo or two.

    These type of experiences are memorable for me and I love when they happen. After all, beautiful healthy trout, spawning in a pristine spring creek, is a wonderful thing to witness. It would be a shame to loose this, and deprive future generations of similar experiences. This is why it is so important to protect our home waters, and other local trout streams now.

    There are many impacts that are slowly killing our trout streams in this province, it is time to act. Water quality and habitat are key factors in the survival of wild trout, so this should be addressed. Secondly, we must protect all wild trout, so that they can fulfill their important role in the natural eco-system of a trout stream.

    It is wonderful when local grass roots organizations help along the way, but the protection of the wild trout needs provincial involvement. The best way to protect these trout is enforcing a total zero harvest on all streams and rivers in the province of Alberta. This is the only way to protect what is left of our wild trout populations. Total catch and release!

 Big Trout Stand Out —— Over A Fresh Redd

    This large brook trout was holding over a freshly dug redd (egg nest), in the gravel bottom of a crystal clear creek. The picture was taken thru some dense stream bank cover, so a few twigs got in the way. These spawning trout can reproduce without the harassment from humans or livestock. It truly is a wonder of nature, to see such color on wild trout, during their spawn.

    I only pack my cameras during the spawning season on this particular stream and on any others. Most responsible anglers that I know, leave the trout alone during spawning season. They recognize the importance of conservation of our wild trout.

    Sometimes I wonder if future generations will have the opportunity to experience nature as I did. I’m hopeful they will at least experience some of what we have had, enjoying a little bit of nature and seeing some of the things that we have had the good fortune to see.

    Only those that are careful observers will understand the true meaning of what nature has to offer. The wildlife, both above and below the water’s surface are what makes nature so attractive and necessary for  humans to experience and enjoy. Wild trout and the clean waters in which they live, are an important part of our natural experience.

    The warming of the earth’s atmosphere is a global  threat, but if we can’t manage to take care of what little nature is surrounding us on a local level, we are truly doomed. If you are prepared to do something to stop global warming or climate change, try looking into what you can accomplish on a local level. Protecting and enhancement of natural areas in the neighbourhood is a good place to begin. If you are fortunate enough to have a river or small stream in your area, these make great places that you can start  to protect.

Bighill Creek In A State of Eutrophication This September

    When levels of nitrates and phosphorous   are excessive in a flowing stream, the result will be higher than normal weed growth and algae blooms that turn the stream green. This is described as “being in a state of eutrophication” and it is not a healthy state for any flowing spring creek to be in. This was the case for Bighill Creek this late summer and into the autumn and early fall this year.

    It all happened on the lower reach of the Bighill Creek, where numerous storm drains dump street and lawn runoff into the creek every year. It also demonstrates how much we over fertilize our lawns and flower beds in the central core of the Town of Cochrane, in both commercial and residential areas.

    There are no storm drain ponds for this area of the town, so ground runoff goes into the creek without primary treatment. This is all really bad for the resident trout population in the creek and all of the other life that depends on clean water to survive. The need to be more vigilant about what goes into the creek is not a new concept, so this should not be an issue in modern times, but it is.

    It is time to start experimenting with using less fertilizers and letting the mulch from cut grass maintain the soil nutrient. Recently, there was some press information on leaving dead leaves on the lawn to help enhance the soil, but people have a hard time changing old ways. Think about this before you spread or pour!

Illegally Built Bridge —Washed Out On Bighill Creek

    Volunteer groups are very gung-ho about getting right to work and doing some good around the community. However, their good intensions can some times cloud better judgement. I recently came by a washed out bridge on the Bighill Creek.

    A local volunteer group built a few of these, with the intent of creating better access along the stream. There are a few problems with this however:


·                 The bridges were built illegally, without the necessary permits or permissions.

·                 The design of the bridge was amateur and the bridge’s were poorly built.

    The result is that now we have a pile of wood that needs to be cleaned up by someone. Any construction along a flow stream needs a review and lengthy approval process, which includes permits from both federal and provincial authorities.

    Bow Valley Habitat Development has had to do this many times over the years, but it is the law and I can understand the rational behind this process.

    I always question the validity of any protectionist group that has a main objective of opening up the access on a trout stream, by building bridges and creating more path systems. Why not leave a natural space, natural?

Left: A spawning brook trout holds close to the stream bank, hoping to stay partially concealed, in the crystal clear waters of a spring creek. This is why shoreline cover, such as willows is vital for cove habitat during spawning rituals.


This photo shows the excessive weed and algae growth in Bighill Creek in September. The first snow arrived early this year, but it makes the green stream channel stand out in the photo. There is too much nutrient entering the lower end of Bighill Creek, causing pollution which promotes weed and algae growth in the creek.

Right Photo:


    Close-up photography is a great tool for the fly tier. You can take a picture of your fly patterns and see what you can do to make your fly patterns even more neatly tied. A magnifier also does the same job, but it can get in the way at my fly tying station.

    On the pattern shown to the right, I can see that my rib wrapping needs a bit of attention. The pattern will still catch trout, but I prefer to tie something that will also catch the eye of the customer. A well tied fly shows that each pattern is getting the attention it deserves. Critiquing your own fly patterns will make you a better fly tier.

Take a closer look with a photo to improve your fly tying.

Below: This nymph pattern was tied without the extended wing case covering the bead head. Most of my nymph patterns have an extended wing case, the fly shown below is what I would call a “Clean Head”. The fly is a neat version to have on hand in a few different patterns. On this batch of nymphs I was using copper/brass beads and tungsten gold color. The tungsten is great for getting down fast in fast flowing rivers and streams. The brass is perfect for Stillwater fly fishing on a dry line.

A magnifying glass is a handy tool for the fly tier. I have a light positioned on my fly tying bench that has a magnifier attached to the lamp. A inexpensive hand held magnifier is also used. These can be purchased for a few dollars and have other applications.