On the Highway with Mike Drew: At the least I used to be fishing

On the Highway with Mike Drew: At the least I used to be fishing

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Wore the mistaken boots.

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Put them on, walked into the river to wade throughout, bought to the opposite facet and began to climb the far financial institution solely to find that my toes had by some means turned to guide. Each step felt like I used to be slogging by means of gumbo mud, the sudden weight making my toes drag and catch on the sticks and rocks alongside shore.

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However, hey, at the very least I used to be fishing!

It was a scorching day up within the Livingstone River valley, proper on the sting of being too scorching for fishing. Even now, at 4:30 within the afternoon, the temperature was pushing 30C. I had hoped that the later hours of the day is likely to be a bit cooler in order I used to be heading up there, I dawdled alongside, stopping right here and there at any time when I discovered something that caught my eye.

Just like the fireweed.

I’d determined to hit the Livingstone from the north, from the Highwood River valley as an alternative of my traditional route from Pekisko and over Hailstone Butte. It will add an additional half-hour to the journey however that was superb. No rush.

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So I lower south from Highwood Home over to the Cataract Creek valley after which adopted Wilkinson Creek upstream from there. Fireweed was all over the place.

Fireweed fluff caught dry flower heads along Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
Fireweed fluff caught dry flower heads alongside Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew /Postmedia

It’s a reasonably cool plant, fireweed. It likes open areas, particularly just lately disturbed ones like alongside roadsides and locations which have been logged. It will get its identify each from the truth that it is without doubt one of the first crops to look within the stays left behind by forest fires in addition to the color of the leaves once they start to die again in late summer time.

Their tall stems and pink flowers actually make them stand out however right now of 12 months it’s the streaks of scarlet and gold working by means of their lengthy leaves that catches the attention.

And the fluff.

At first I assumed that each one the stuff floating within the air and catching the solar might need been bugs. With Wilkinson Creek so shut by I hoped it is likely to be a giant mayfly hatch or one thing like that. In that case, that may make for wonderful fishing!

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However as I handed a giant patch of fireweed I might see that wasn’t the case. The blossoms have been practically all gone and turned to seed which the sunshine wind was choosing up and swirling by means of the air. It wasn’t bugs. It was 1000’s of sun-catching motes of fireweed fluff.

So I bought out for a better look.

Fireweed fluff flies in the breeze along Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.
Fireweed fluff flies within the breeze alongside Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew /Postmedia

It’s kinda like dandelion fluff made with spider silk, superb and gentle and tickly on the nostril. Mendacity all the way down to search for at it in opposition to the solar, I might see the tiny seeds hanging beneath the wispy filaments that have been shifting as little zephyrs of breeze moved them round.

Even the lightest gust despatched clouds of them into the air the place they rose and spun and scattered, using the wind currents and updrafts to their new houses someplace up or down the valley. Yet one more fascinating approach for nature to hold on carrying on.

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I suppose you could possibly say the identical factor for the fleabane.

Extra shade-loving than the fireweed, I discovered them among the many horsetails and mosses within the practically perpetual shade of the spruce forest alongside the Wilkinson Creek. Their yellow faces framed by pinkish petals stood out brightly in opposition to all of the inexperienced and made them simple to search out. Not only for me however for the droneflies, too.

Each blossom had at the very least one, a number of of them held three or extra. All of them have been coated with pollen which, after all, they carried with them from blossom to blossom. Insect pollination is clearly fairly widespread. Most flowering crops round right here at the very least partially depend on it.

Drone flies and a moth on a thistle blossom by Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
Drone flies and a moth on a thistle blossom by Wilkinson Creek southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew //Postmedia

However there have to be one thing on the blossoms that the droneflies actually like. There have been different bugs round, too, bumblebees, sweat bees, butterflies, a number of moths, however many of the fleabane’s guests have been droneflies. Attention-grabbing.

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As was all the things else on this shady little spot.

There have been loads of different flowers there, too, hawkweed, thistles, paintbrush, alpine fireweed — short-stalked cousin of the tall fireweed out within the open — and all of them had bugs of some type on them. Down nearer to the water, midges and some tiny mayflies hovered near the floor whereas at a tiny, algae-filled pond on the sting of the shadows, the extra carnivorous bugs have been feasting on fallen butterflies, craneflies and moths lifeless and floating on the floor.

A butterfly and other insects trapped by an algae-filled spring southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
A butterfly and different bugs trapped by an algae-filled spring southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew /Postmedia

However what have been conspicuous by their absence have been the mosquitos. By no means noticed a single one.

None over on the Livingstone River both.

However which may have been due to the warmth. Sitting on the again of the truck exchanging my good footwear for the boots I supposed to put on, I used to be sweating already and even down by the relative coolness alongside the water, there was barely a bug to be seen of any sort. Most likely not the perfect state of affairs contemplating I used to be going to be throwing bug imitations on the water to entice the fish however I had religion that the cutthroats would come have a look anyway.

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So after a number of exploratory casts, I stepped into the water to cross to the opposite facet seeking contemporary swimming pools to attempt.

The cool water felt nice because it swirled round my legs and into the boots. You already know that feeling you get when your toes are scorching and drained and the air hits them whenever you peel off your footwear and socks? Yeah, that’s what it felt like.

And it nonetheless felt like that after I climbed onto the far shore. However with step one, gravity took maintain.

Ya see, what I had executed was placed on a pair of spare winter boots that I had at the back of the truck. They’re waterproof, I assumed, in order that they’ll be good for this. And so they have been. Till they stuffed up.

What I hadn’t paid consideration to was the truth that waterproof boots are nice at retaining water out however as soon as they refill, they’re additionally nice at retaining water in. Correct wading boots are made to be worn moist. They refill, after all, however as quickly as you get out of the stream, the water runs proper again out once more.

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Not these boots. Along with the impervious, ankle-high, rubber, these winter boots are lined with thick insulation. Insulation that soaks up water like a sponge.

However I carried on, my toes dragging like I used to be sporting the underside half of a nineteenth century diving go well with, till I reached the subsequent gap the place I plunked down on the shore with my toes raised on a rock to let boots drain. It wasn’t the perfect place to make a forged from however I attempted it anyway.

And instantly caught a fish. Flopping round much more than the little cutthroat was, I managed to get my toes again beneath me to face up so I might land it. They’re so fairly, these mountain jewels. I took an image of it and put it again.

A chubby cutthroat trout about to be released on the Livingstone River southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
A chubby cutthroat trout about to be launched on the Livingstone River southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew /Postmedia

Three casts later, I had one other one, a chubby bronze and gold fourteen-incher. One other image after which again into the water for this one, too.

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Stumbling alongside, I hit one other run the place the fish ignored me and a 3rd one the place they teased however didn’t take. However I used to be getting a bit winded by dragging my heavy toes among the many stream facet boulders so I sat all the way down to let the boots drain once more.

Why not simply take them off, dump them out and put them again on? I actually don’t have an satisfactory reply for that.

It was nice sitting there watching the river move by however I nonetheless had one other two river crossings to make earlier than I bought again to the truck, so I began stumbling my approach again. I’d barely walked a kilometre however by the point I put my dry footwear again on, I used to be pooped. However I needed to take a look additional down the river anyway, so I rolled on.

Unusually, I had the place just about to myself. The Livingstone is without doubt one of the most well-known cutthroat streams within the west and often will get whipped to a froth by fly casters however on at the present time, there was nobody there. There have been vacation trailers parked in all places, a number of with autos close to them, however I by no means noticed a single fisherman on the water.

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And the water regarded good. The river within the canyon part was low, because it at all times is right now of 12 months, however the swimming pools within the bends nonetheless regarded deep and trouty. The spring-fed creeks that add to the move have been all trickling alongside and the late-summer grass within the meadows nonetheless had a whole lot of inexperienced.

I discovered a momma grouse and her brood alongside the street, mother clucking at them after I stopped for footage and the infants, all practically grown, scattering unhurriedly to get out of sight within the brush. A whitetail and her fawn darted throughout the street and disappeared among the many aspens.

A momma ruffed grouse keeps watch over her brood in the Livingstone River valley southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
A momma ruffed grouse retains watch over her brood within the Livingstone River valley southwest of Calgary, Ab., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Picture by Mike Drew /Postmedia

At a pond shaped by a spring blocked by the street, I parked and watched the water to see if there have been any fish cruising round. Nope, none that I might see. However a tiny noticed sandpiper strutted alongside one of many fallen logs and spider silk hung from the drowned timber shimmered within the late-day gentle.

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Late-day gentle that caught me a bit abruptly.

The day was nonetheless scorching and the sunshine was candy. There have been bugs buzzing and the air smelled of pine and mud. However at 7 p.m. the solar was already about to drop behind Cabin Ridge and lengthy shadows have been spreading throughout the valley. So I aimed the FJ north and headed again towards city.

The summit at Hailstone Butte was in deep shadow by the point I bought there and the sunshine was dim down within the Willow Creek valley. However over by Stimson Creek, I discovered one other patch of fluffy fireweed that was simply catching the final rays of the day so I ended the truck and stepped out for an image.

My head mentioned sure however my toes mentioned no. They’d gotten so sore whereas I sat within the truck that after I stepped out I might barely stroll. By the point I made it over to the fireweed, a frightening distance of perhaps 50 steps, the solar was gone.

So I hobbled again to the truck, bought in and continued on down the street.

Sure, it had been an exquisite day surrounded by the fantastic thing about the mountain valleys and catching these beautiful fish.

However subsequent time, I’m bringing a unique pair of shoes.

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