Monday, March 22, 2010

First Fish of the Season!

Last week saw me in Calgary helping prepare for the 2010 Trout Unlimited Canada Conservation Dinner and Auction. This event is the largest of its kind in North America and generates a staggering amount towards coldwater conservation here in Canada. The auction was held on Thursday March 18th. I had a number of tasks to complete on the Friday but did manage to get a few hours on the Bow River on Friday afternoon.

The weather was fantastic for March on the prairies, 8C, bright clear skies and no wind! Brian Meagher and I did a short walk and wade trip within the Calgary city limits and over two short hours landed a number of fish, both browns and rainbows and shook hands with a few others.  Right at the end of the day I lost a large brown that I too agressive with as I had to get going to meet some friends for dinner.  As it turns out I miss judged Calgary rush hour traffic and ended up 20 minutes late due to an accident.

I fished nymphs under an indicator as well as working a few runs Czech Nymph style.  My best fly was one I put together a few years ago when I was filming an episode of The New Fly Fisher on the Crowsnest River in Southern Alberta, the Stillwater Baetis. All of my fish came to this fly.

The Stilwater Baetis is a simple fly tied out of Stillwater Solutions (SWS) tying materials that good friend Brian Chan and I designed in partnership with Superfly International. My two favourite body colors are olive dun and light olive, for the light olive version use light olive SWS bleached pheasant tail and chartreuse wire ribbing. I am sure tying some out of the claret pheasant tail would work too. The tungsten bead is key, as the added weight tungsten provides gets the fly down quickly and keeps it.  Baetis nymphs are active swimmers and the Bow is home to probably millions of them. They are a constant component of the daily drift cycles on many rivers including the Bow. I would recommend you add a few of them to your fly box as well.

SWS Baetis-Olive Dun
By Phil Rowley

Hook: Mustad C49S #14-#18
Thread: 8/0 Brown
Tail: Stillwater Solutions Bleached Pheasant Tail, Olive Dun
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Shellback: Pearlescent Mylar
Body: Stillwater Solutions Bleached Pheasant Tail, Olive Dun
Thorax: Stillwater Solutions Soft Blend Dubbing, Dark Summer Duck
Bead: XS Gold Tungsten

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fortresss Lake School

In a previous blog entry I mentioned that I have been working with Dave and Amelia Jensen at Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat and Fly Fish Alberta regarding a stillwater fly fishing school at Fortress Lake.  I am happy to report that the details have been figured out and everything is a go for June 18-21.  Now all we need are a few individuals to join us for an educational four day stillwater fly fishing school amongst the snow capped peaks at Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Jensen

Draped against a spectacular and visually stunning back drop you will have the opportunity to hone your stillwater skills against some of the largest brook trout on the planet!

Photo courtesy of Dave Jensen

I will provide detailed stillwater instruction in a focused, almost one on one, environment.  The timing of this seminar is no accident and is intended to target the intense annual chironomid emergence Fortress Lake offers.  Here is a sample of some of what you will learn:
  • How to read a lake and locate trout on a consistent basis
  • Equipment requirements and preferences
  • Detailed leader construction techniques
  • Retrieves and presentation
  • How to fight big fish (Fortress Brook Trout range between 3-7 pounds)
  • Sinking line tricks, tactics and techniques
  • Chironomid techniques using both floating and sinking lines
  • Entomology
  • Tips on choosing the right fly for the right conditions
This unique four day package costs $2500.00* per person and includes the following:
  • Return Flight by scheduled float plane shuttle from the base near Hinton, Alberta.
  • Accommodations at Fortress Lake
  • Meals, snacks, and beverages
  • Use of boats, canoes, kayaks
  • Stillwater fly fishing instruction including comprehensive morning and evening seminar instruction prior to heading out on the lake.
  • Minimum of 2.5 days fly fishing Fortress Lake Memories and instruction to last a life time!

*Prices are in Canadian funds and do not include applicable taxes, alcohol, fishing licenses, gratuities and flies.

Space is limited so please book early by contacting Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat at 403 346 1698 or email

For additional course information please contact me at  I hope to see you there!

This past weekend I was presenting at the BC Boat and Sportsman's show in Abbotsford BC.  Abbotsford is located about 1-hour east of Vancouver, BC home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The show was well attended and the line ups to get in the show each morning was staggering. As a former lower mainland resident for over 25 years it was great to see old friends and marvel at the growth and urban development that has occurred since I left just over five years ago.

While at the show I based myself along with good friend Brian Chan at the BC Outdoors booth signing copies of my new book and the recently released Learning With The Pros, Stillwater Fly Tying, Volume 1, I completed with Brian.

We also provided fly tying sessions and stillwater seminars.  I even ventured up onto the casting pond to provide seminars detailing my favorite retrieves and tactics for both floating and sinking line presentations.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a Weekend!

Well I just returned from a fantastic trip to California where I provided my Advanced Chironomid Tactics PowerPoint presentation to members of the Mt. Tam Fly Fishers and the North Bay Trout Unlimited chapter.  Local guide and member Larry Lack picked me up from the Oakland airport and then drove me south to my next destination, the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show.

The Pleasanton show was an excellent experience and from the response I received there are lots of enthusiastic stillwater fly fishers keen on learning new tricks and techniques.  I provided tying demonstrations on my favorite chironomid patterns along with seminars on Sinking Line Tactics, How to Find Trout in Stillwaters and 10 Habits for Stillwater Success.  My seminars and demonstrations were well attended.  I always enjoy the interaction and the new fly fishing friends I meet at shows like this.  Often I learn as much as I teach.  I am already looking forward to the 2011 show.

Shows like Pleasanton also provide me with the opportunity to catch up with friends as our paths often cross through the show season.  I spent a lot of time with Jeff Currier once again who was kind enough to let me hang out at this table.  It is always nice to have a rendezvous location for people to meet me at once a demonstration or seminar is complete.  My latest book, Stillwater Selections and Quick Release Indicators were a huge hit.  Everything was gone by mid morning Saturday.  Friday was one of the busiest days I have ever experienced at a fly show.  In addition catching up with Jeff I also bumped into Ken Hanley and Jay Murakoshi.  Ken, Jay and I have been bumping into each other for many years now as our show paths often cross.  Both Ken and Jay have their own websites, Pacific Extremes and Flies Unlimited.  Ken has been a supporter of my efforts for a number of years.  We keep talking about chasing some of my local pike, hopefully one of these years it will come to pass.

Visiting new shows allows you to meet new friends as well, all crazy about fly fishing.  Chuck Echer was my roommate during my stay.  Chuck's Famous Grouse 'elixir' was a perfect a night cap!  Beside Jeff's table I had the pleasure of meeting and watching Phil Fisher and Dave McCants tie their favorite patterns.  I managed to coax them out of some of their unique designs.  Ben Byng showed me his damsel patterns as well. A few of these will be adorning my fly box this season. Ben and Jeff know each other well and to my relief Ben is a hockey fan.  Sunday was a unique experience as everyone knew I was Canadian and kept me on my toes with up to date scores as the gold medal game between Canada and United States took place.  The end result made their friendly jabs and sometimes exaggerated game reports memorable.

During the past two weeks I had become infected with the Olympic experience.  It was Canada's best performance ever.  In fact, we had never won a gold medal in any previous Olympics we had hosted.  Not in Calgary or Montreal.  To get an Olympic record 17 was unbelievable and made every Canadian proud.  Vancouver did a fantastic job.  A friend of mine sent me a link to a You Tube link that NBC put together about Canada.  I think it did an excellent job catching the essence of Canada and what it is like to be Canadian.  It was nice to let our normally subdued national pride out for the world to see!