One of my favourite outdoor activities is Fly Fishing. It has taken me all over the backwoods and back-roads of Alberta, searching out the nooks and crannies of small creeks in hopes of finding uncharted waters.

Spending my time poring over topography maps, back-road atlases and Google Earth has become an exciting pursuit as I plan future excursions. My bookshelves are lined with hiking books that take me to remote lakes and far off creeks, bug entomology, bug-hatching charts, and more. Every time I drive past a creek I immediately research the water shed it originates from and dream about the fish that could be holding in the pools… 

Many of these experiences have been shared with friends and family, and have brought people together in a way that nothing else can. Being able to connect with my Dad by reminiscing over past fishing trips is something him and I both enjoy.

Fishing these fragile ecosystems has taught me to have a healthy respect for the precious waters and land that we are so lucky to have in Alberta. When we explore these creeks, we get to see what so few people have the opportunity to witness firsthand. Every turn on a new river is something that provides a unique challenge to be able to catch the fish there. If I don’t say it, my fishing companions definitely will say, “Let’s just see what’s around the next bend…” And it goes on and on and on. 

While fishing is seemingly easy to learn, fly fishing has its own skills that are required to be successful. Knowing which bug is hatching, matching that hatch and placing the fly where fish are actually holding takes a great deal of research and expertise. Executing all that without spooking fish away is also something that takes much dedication and practice. However, as time goes on these skills come more easily and culminate when the fish takes your fly. The elation in that moment, when all of your hard work comes together, is something that can’t be described! While catching a big fish is satisfying, it is equally as exciting to catch small fish out of small creeks hiding in unlikely places. 

Jamie's good friend Andrew and his catch - Photo by Jamie Kotlewski

Jamie's good friend Andrew and his catch - Photo by Jamie Kotlewski

There are a few organizations of outstanding people in this fly fishing community. These groups of fly fishers want to see the waters of Alberta preserved in a way that allows the generations ahead of us to have the same incredible experiences that we currently get to enjoy. These groups are an inspiration to the rest of the fishing community and provide common goals that everyone can work towards to protect our land.

However, there are also times when one just needs to get away, far from noise, people, distractions and the challenges of real life. To be able to wander up and away, casting to riffles and pools alone, without anyone asking you questions, or discussing the next strategy, and to just be alone in nature is one of this sport’s rarest gifts. To enjoy the thrill of the take and catch the big fish alone is a feeling that nothing else can replicate. This sport really brings together so many exciting things about the outdoors: adventure, exploration, conservation, companionship, solitude and just plain ole fun. 

Tight Lines, 

Jamie Kotlewski

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