A Diamond In The Rough
Sometimes by chance, or on purpose we stumble along what I refer to as diamonds along our life’s journey. Some don’t look down and even see them sparkling right under their noses but some are aware, look down and pick them up putting them into their pockets. One such diamond is my good friend Dwayne Parsons. A true diamond, that I have had the blessing to establish a life time friendship with. I found this man, or rather he found me, via my Blog. At that point in my life I was just starting out as a guide. My writing was less than par, substantially less than par. I had not written anything really since high school, my life as a collision painter never required written and published articles of high quality.
Back then I had a plethora of information to share with other anglers who spin fished the bow river, so my articles were usually rushed and lacked the proper quality of an author. All I wanted to do was help others and put up what was working for me on the river at the time. My intentions were good, but my writing, spelling and grammar, were not so! I am still far from the best, and I make mistakes like everyone else, but by having those diamonds in your pocket, I can be teachable and open to serious critique.
I remember around the time I first met Dwayne, my ego was running a little wild and I thought I was the best spin angler on the Bow River! After all, if you fished the river every day after work, and on both days of the weekend, you would be the best angler in the city as well right? I was catching fish and big fish, but I definitely needed lessons in ego deflation as well as producing high quality web content.
Then along came Dwayne. An author, writer/editor and publisher of several fly fishing magazines in Idaho, U.S.A. His comment on my blog post was kind, but was also somewhat of an ego deflator! He spoke of how he loved the fact that I had passion, and the fish I was catching were “amazing” but the way I delivered the article needed “lots of shoe polish”. I never really understood what he meant by that, but he did offer to edit my articles for me. He instructed me to send the unpublished articles to his email address. My first thought was “How much is that going to cost me“. Usually when people you don`t know offer you a service, they intend on charging for that service. Dwayne happened to be one of those rare diamonds that never asked for a dime to help me. So I chicken pecked my way through another article about my fishing adventures along the bow river. I did my best to make the article interesting and informative and sent it away for the “shoe polish“ to be added. I think he went through a couple cans that Saturday!
After a few days of anxiously awaiting his reply, I finally received the article back on the Wednesday evening after work. I could not wait to read the article, however I was a tad bit nervous as to his critique. He showed me where I was redundant, where I had make punctuation mistakes and when I was just plain rambling on. I was a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but I must say it made me grow as a writer. He became much more than a coach to me; he became an eternal friend and fishing partner.
I am grateful this diamond has never lost its sparkle and we remain in touch as often as we can. I am humbled by all the lessons Dwayne has taught me. Who is your diamond in the rough? Who has offered their time and or services free of charge. Whom have you met in your fishing community that inspires you and teaches you to become a better human being, a better angler, a better fishing guide? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!
Tags: Trout Fishing Stories
The first fish always tells a story
And if you listen closely, or look at the image, it will have a picture perfect ending to a 34 fish day. The day started out early and needed two large Tim Horton’s to get me motivated, but once the caffeine kicked in, it was go time. It was 5:45 and we launched out of Policeman’s Flats before any other boats even touched the surface of the low, clean slow-flowing water. I figured getting out extra early would pay off, and boy was I ever spot on. We originally were set to launch at 8:00am but I am sure glad I changed my mind. Off we went backing into the old boat launch area. I rowed us out into mid-current, with cloudy skies to the south west. The weather man never called for rain so we were in good shape for the day’s trip. John had his son Tyler up from Louisiana and wanted him to experience a day on the river with yours truly. Not many folks get the chance to fish a river like the Bow, but when they do it is an experience they will never forget. Tyler had stated he had fished Bass at home, as well as Catfish but never had the privilege of river trout.
As we rounded the first corner after the launch, the bite was on and John had his first fish of the day on the end of his Rapala. Not long after, he latched into another scrappy trout and I knew we were in for a good day. As I mentioned earlier, where you catch the first fish, the type of water I mean, will set the stage for what to look for on the day. Our first few fish came out of choppy fast moving water which told me that the trout want high, oxygenated water to hold in. The heat of the day will drive both the rainbows, and browns into fast moving cooler water where they sit and wait for prey to ambush. We were dialed in and ready to make the best of these prime locations in the river. It was not long and John had landed his third fish of the day, behind a rock pile that was causing a big disturbance in the river. We landed him and let him go straight away. Remember, when the water is warm you need to get the fish unhooked and released very quickly. It is always better to keep the fish in the water at all times to avoid killing the fish. You will also need to revive the fish properly before letting the fish go; otherwise the fish may die as a result of improper handling. [Read more →]
Tags: Fishing Trips
In the pursuit of happiness.
In big sky country, where the sunsets are as red and beautiful as they come, we have been rising before the rooster crows. Four o’clock comes early for a six year old; well it’s even too early for this old man! There are not many things in life that get me out of bed at that ungodly hour, but sport fishing is one of them. To me there is something magical about the sun slowly rising above the horizon casting glorious colors of red and orange on the clouds above. The last few weekends I have seen that magic before most people are enjoying their first morning coffee. My daughter Paige has been quite the trooper, she has been getting up without incident and helps daddy pack up all the fishing gear for the days trip. I think she must like catching all those mammoth Alberta Walleye, and do you blame her, what angler doesn’t?
We usually leave at four thirty and hit the Tim Hortons coffee shop before the long journey east to the water. Daddy needs his coffee to wake up and she sure does love those bacon and egg sandwiches they sell. Once we hit the road, it does not take long for her to flake out in her car seat. At least someone gets to sleep more. Once we arrive she wakes up and helps me unpack all the gear and lawn chairs. I love to get her involved with the whole process explaining the details of why we do what we do. First the lawn chairs go up, followed by the cooler placed close at hand. Then we put the rod holder in the perfect spot together. She gets the frozen minnows out of the cooler and removes the lid placing them in the water, to get them to unthaw while I string up the rod with a pickerel rig. The other rod gets a lure of choice for the weather conditions that day. I always bring two or three rods with me just in case something breaks while fishing. Once all the gear is set up and ready, the only thing left to do is cast the minnows out and wait for the bite.
The sport fish we are after is large walleye. There are some big Pike in this location but my heart is on them monster Walleye. The common name, “walleye”, comes from the fact that the fish’s eyes point outward, as if looking at the walls. This externally facing orientation of the eyes gives anglers an advantage in the dark because there is a certain eye shine given off by the eye of the walleye in the dark, similar to that of lions and other night dwelling animals. This “eye shine” is the result of a light-gathering layer in the eyes called the tapetum lucidum, which allows the fish to see well in low-light conditions. In fact, many anglers look for walleyes at night since this is when major feeding patterns occur. The fish’s eyes also allow them to see well in turbid waters (stained or rough, breaking waters), which gives them an advantage over their prey. Thus, walleye anglers will commonly look for locations where there is a good “walleye chop” (rough water). This excellent vision also allows the fish to populate the deeper regions in a lake, and they can often be found in deeper water, particularly during the warmest part of the summer.
Today the water was stained out more then we experienced last weekend, most likely because of some rain that had fallen during the week. I like fishing walleye when the water is a little stained up, they seem to be on the hunt more than in clear water conditions. We launched the minnows out and waited patiently for the first fish to take hold. It was only twenty minutes and we were reeling in our first fish of the morning. Paige spun the reel as I held the rod for her. I feel it is important to keep her entertained and happy; after all it is about her getting involved and having fun. The important part for me is to teach her how to handle fish when she is young. To make her aware of the fact that fish do not breathe out of the water, to help her understand that you do not “throw” a fish back into the water, you must gently rock it back and forth until it swims away on its own steam. She is also aware of what parts of the fish can hurt her and what parts of a fish to keep her hands clear of, such as the gill plates and spine of the walleye. We noticed a few people literally throwing the fish back into the water which to me is a shame. I also noticed a couple, man and a woman leave the fish out of the water for over three minutes while the guy went to his truck to grab his camera, then proceed to leave the fish out of the water for another minute for the photo shoot. I am not against taking a few quick pictures of your catch; I do it all the time! What I opposed to is killing a fish because you can’t get organized before your line hits the surface of the water. So please if I may offer you some simple advice here.
1. Have your camera ready to take pictures before you catch your fish. My camera sits on the cooler right next to me within arm’s reach. If possible, have someone take your pictures for you which will save time and keep the fish in the water where they belong.
2. Have your pliers ready to go before you land your fish! Why would you spend time fumbling for your gear when all you need to do is get organized before you fish?
3. When you release the fish you catch, bend your knees and gently rock the fish back and forth in the water until the fish starts to kick its tail a few times. That is when the fish is ready to swim away and has been properly revived after the fight.
4. Keep the fish in the water at all times except when you gently pick it up from the tail and support the body of the fish with your other hand. Do not pick the fish up through the gills, as touching the gills will most often lead to the fish dying after release. Take a few quick pictures of your catch and then revive the fish properly. Less time the fish is out of the water, the more chance it will have of surviving after it has been released.
My daughter is already learning these simple techniques so many other generations of anglers can enjoy fishing as much as we both do. To me it is heartwarming to see the big smile on her face when I hook the fish and she helps me reel it in. Thanks to all the other anglers who came before us, and did their part to ensure we have fish in our rivers and lakes here in Southern Alberta. For that I am eternally grateful! I am joyful my daughter has caught the fishing bug like her daddy has. Many, many more fishing journeys to come in the very near future.
Tags: Alberta Walleye Fishing
It was a cool and brisk morning as we arrived at Policemans Flats on Saturday. The forecast called for plus 12 and mildly windy weather. In Calgary, we all know that can change in the blink of an eye. As we say here, “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour”. The sun wanted to come out between thick scattered clouds but that was not to be for several hours later. We bundled up with several layers applied pre-launch. Lucky I brought extra clothes with me. You can take the extra layers off but you sure can’t put them on if you don’t bring them with you! The thermostat on the dashboard of my truck read 5 degrees celsius, but with the 25 kilometer an hour wind, it felt like minus 5. Nothing was stopping us today, barring a tornado or a hurricane!
We loaded up the boat and off we went into a narrow opening between a small entrance from the back pool to the main channel of the river. Lucky I brought my waders as the water is very shallow which required me to get out of the boat to drag it through the narrow opening. The Good thing is we made it out of Policemans Flats safely and without getting my feet wet. That would have made for a long cold day of misery and pain. I rowed us out from the bank we launched from and we were away for another six hour journey down the slow flowing chops of the Bow River. MacKinnon Flats has been closed for the past few months and finally opened Wednesday April the 15th, making the lower stretch of the Bow River completely accessible to anglers. Another good thing is we can now float to the Carseland Weir, which happens to be my favorite section of the Lower Bow River.
The bad part of our trip started early. I had some serious issues with the line getting all caught up under the spool of both my clients reels. Sometimes when it’s windy, the line can do some really weird things. It is important to have the right tools with you to deal with all types of issues that arise on the river. A cigarette lighter was the tool of the day for me. Instead of wasting valuable fishing time on the water, I was able to solve the line issues with simply burning the line with the lighter. This happened three times in less than an hour but the lighter saved me from wasted fishing time. Everyday is a new adventure out on the water and things do not always go well for even the most skilled anglers.
[Read more →]
Tags: Fishing Trips Gone Bad