Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Calgary Work Trip

You know how it is - work, work, work.

Every now and then though a work trip can have it's memorable moments.

I recently went to Calgary, Alberta to attend a work function and on one day of the meeting there was a choice between golf and a float trip down the Bow River with representatives from several companies.

I thought about golf and concluded that there were already enough golfers in the world.

Calgary is a nice city - too bad I'm not a city guy. I feel trapped when I'm surrounded by tall buildings, traffic, and masses of moving people.

I finally began to relax when we were on our way out of town to the launch site.

Our guides were organized by Bow River Hookers a guide service run by the Windsor brothers.

We saw some fish on the surface and offered them a Caddis imitation and a hopper or two but for most of the day we fished the "wire worm" below a strike indicator.

The three boats launched about 10AM with one guide and two fishermen per boat.

The leaves had already changed in this part of Canada but our weather was picture perfect.

The Hyde drift boats provide a stable fishing platform and the guides were knowledgeable and kept us in the fishy water.

We found lots of willing rainbows and a few browns during the morning float.

These fish were smart and experienced. When hooked, they would head straight for the shadow of the boat which made keeping them on the barbless hooks a challenge. "Strip! Strip!"

The shore lunch included a salad, rolls, and a hot meal (beef stroganoff) prepared by our guides. We had time to swap fish stories and compare notes before loading back up for the afternoon.

Bill Windsor had a well stocked fly box and the know how to go with it.

The scenery on the Bow was beautiful if you could pick your head up once in a while to see it. Since we were fishing subsurface most of the time we had our eyes glued to the strike indicator.

Our guide John took good care of the fish we caught even though he gave them a good talking to to convince them to stop falling for the wire worm. "Somebody will put you on the BBQ if you don't mend your ways!"

As the sun got lower in the sky, the scenery became even more stunning.

At one point in our journey down the river, John asked if we were up for a challenge. He said he knew a spot where the big fish lived but to catch them we had to get out of the boat and do a little wading.

My boat partner Darren and I were game so we beached the boat and headed out into the swift water. John lead the way breaking the force of the current and positioned us in the spot. "Now things get technical" he says. "Cast around me upstream as far as you can right into the swift water, then immediately throw a roll cast to get your line above the indicator, strip strip, strip, while keeping your rod tip pointed directly at the indicator and when you see the least little wiggle - set the hook. Oh yeah - all this happens in three seconds or less." He was not kidding. It took me three tries but when I finally got it all together I hooked up with this 21" rainbow.

After I landed my big one it was Darren's turn. The look on John's face tells it all.

Hooking a big fish in swift water can be challenging enough - fighting one can be a real test. If these fish make it to the main current it could be game over. Here Darren is trying to turn his fish towards the shore.

After a tough fight this beauty comes to hand - then is released to fight another day.

It was a tough day of work but we made the most of it!

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