In the excitement of hooking my first fish, I forget what I’m supposed to say to alert our guide.
I wave frantically while standing in the peaceful deep blue pool. As I remember to cry “fish on!” the owner of Trout Tracker Guide Company and fly fishing aficionado Jarett Black comes to help.
My husband Colin is also learning to fly fish under Jarett’s tutelage and he wades toward me, as well. We both sport matching grins. Outdoor enthusiasts, we have long wanted to try fly fishing in Alberta.
As my heart beats wildly under my grey chest waders, Jarett grasps my fly rod. I’ve hooked a cutthroat trout, he confirms. With the struggling fish pulling the line taut, bringing it in is slower and more difficult than I imagined, even with his help. It’s close enough for me to see its black spots and bright orange-red streak under its mouth.
Then the line suddenly goes slack.
Learn with an Expert
For a moment, I am disappointed. It was about to be my first catch and the first of our private half-day lesson with an expert guide. Setting the hook and then learning to play the fish while bringing it in are some of the trial and error skills that novices learn, unless they have beginner’s luck. So far, luck has not rewarded me.
Colin and I had been eager to cross fly fishing off our list of adventures. Alberta is one of the world’s premiere fly fishing regions, especially for stream and river trout. The Livingstone River in the southwest corner of the province is nestled below tall pines in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is one of the best streams for cutthroat trout – and a perfect place for a fishing holiday.
Cutthroats are the best trout to learn to fly fish on, Jarett explains, because they like to eat the plentiful flies on the water’s surface and are not as picky as other trout species about what they eat.
Catch and Release Best Policy
Although I’d like to parade a tasty trophy back home – should I actually catch one – cutthroats are threatened, so it’s catch and release only. This way, you can continue to enjoy fishing while the many species of sport fish that live in Alberta can thrive.
More determined, we continue to practice casting – back to six o’clock, pause, stop at three o’clock and pause. Within minutes, we both get bites. Jarett jumps in to assist. This time, I joyfully bring my fish in. Jarrett photographs it before setting it free. Colin is not so lucky. But not to be outdone, he soon has another and proudly reels it in.
“Everyone’s like a kid when they first catch a fish,” Jarrett says with a smile, clearly enjoying teaching the sport he loves. By afternoon’s end, we’re hooked. We each caught six fish, not bad for beginners.
The fishing season for trout at the river generally lasts between mid-June and late October. We’ll be back.