Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Cranbrook’ category

Fishing St. Mary’s River

Sunday, August 27, 2017

We fished St. Mary’s River from the first bridge to the second, probably the most fished section of the river. It takes at least an hour to get to the bridge from Jimsmith Provincial Park, a wonderful park and campground. A fellow and was camped by the river on the near side of the bridge. His little girl, maybe 4 years old, was lying on the top of the cab of the truck when we drove up. We talked about the river, the fishing and where everyone was going. He had just moved from Golden, where he took people heliskiing. He showed us an old bamboo fly rod he had picked up. It was a beauty that had been well-used. Someone had driven their car onto the gravel next to the river. Then they must have thought the water was shallow enough to cross, but it wasn’t. Their car was stuck in the river, surely ruined. The new name for this spot is now The Carpool:}

By the time we got geared up, it was 11:00. We didn’t do anything for the first 45 minutes. The St. Mary’s is known for dry fly fishing, but they didn’t seem to be working, or maybe this area has been fished out, despite the law that you can’t keep fish. The reputation for cutthroat trout is they will hit anything, but this didn’t seem to be the case today. Then i caught two very nice trout on a black grasshopper. Our usual strategy is for one of us to fish dry flies while the other fishes underneath. I stuck with the grasshopper for almost two hours with little luck while Kelly started catching a fair number of fish on a dry fly. I switched at a big pool to one of the beautiful stone flies that Rod tied. That was the ticket. As usual, Kelly caught more fish on the day, but I was back in the game. In one gorgeous pool, probably a bull trout hit the stone fly like a ton of bricks. All I did was get a feel of how big he was before he broke the 4-lb test tippet.

When you fish this river, you know you are not in Disneyland. Every corner we walked around, we were conscious of what might be around the bend. On long gravel bars, we scanned for possible bears, elk, cougars or wolves. It’s not like we were scared, but more alert as we walked further upstream. by 4:30, we began to wonder where the bridge was, or if there really was a bridge, or could we plow our way through woods to the road. Finally, we passed up some very nice pools, and walked upstream in search of a bridge. Soon enough we found a dry wash that gave us a clear track to the road. Whew! It was still a 40 minute walk back to the truck, and we were tired and sore when we got there. After a 75-minute drive back to Jimsmith, we crashed on the couch. It was a good day, but we are not as fit as we were four years ago when we fished this beautiful river.

Castlegar to Cranbrook

August 25, 2017

Everyone except Rod told us to take the ferry across Kootenay Lake instead of crossing the big mountain at Salmo. As we checked out of Castlegar RV Park, Kim recommended taking the ferry. I’m sure the truck would do the job fine, but it is such a beautiful drive down the other side of Kootenay Lake, we opted to take the ferry. Kim and her husband do a great job running this RV park. I hope we get to come back.

We were very lucky to make the ferry, having only a 10 minute wait. This is the prettiest lake I have seen in Canada, with 10,000 foot mountains surrounding its crystal clear waters. Today it was clouded with smoke from distant fires. It’s only a 35-minute ferry ride, and they are very efficient getting cars loaded and unloaded. The drive down the east side of the lake is gorgeous, but today with all the smoke, it wasn’t so great, and Cranbrook is 165 km away on a twisty, winding road.

Unlike our trip four years ago when so many rivers were flooded, every stream we crossed was extremely low. We needed special regulations water permits, so we had to get to St. Mary Angler Shop in Cranbrook by 6:00. We barely made it. A nice young man named Gabby greeted us and helped with the permits. He said the St. Mary’s River and Skookumchuck are in good shape and have lots of fish. What a relief! We bought some flies and fly boxes and thanked Gabby. This is a great fly shop with all the equipment and guiding services you need, and they are all really nice people.

Now, could we find a campsite in        Provincial Park? Lucky again! We pulled into the same site we camped in four years ago. Bob, the camp ranger, came to collect the money and talked for a while.