Fall Season Update – 2019

As the cooler mornings bring the first tell tale signs of a fast approaching fall, the change into the autum color of leaves is coming soon. It is a time that some of us look forward to, as a favorite time of the year. Fall is a great time of the year to get out and enjoy the last of the warmer days, before the snow flies and time spent outdoors may be limited. Fall is also a great time to fish local trout streams, to get enough fly fishing in to last until mid-winter thought turn to spring.

This past week, I saw the first “Great Late Summer Sedge” or “October Caddis”, while walking along a local trout stream. This caddis or sedge is a member of the large fall sedge hatches that happen on both lakes and streams. The “Dicosmoecus” and “Onocosmoecus” sedges both hatch in the fall. The Dicosmoecus is the stream version and the Onocosmoecus is found in local lakes. These large caddis flies are both members of the¬†Limnephilidae family.

The orange color of this caddis makes it easily identifiable, especially on its abdomen. They are also large in size and the trout love to eat them, mostly when they are in the pupal stage, darting about under the water. The hatch will linger into the month of October, on the Bow River.

As soon as the October Caddis shows up in late August, my thoughts are usually turned to fall fly fishing, mostly on the local Bow River in the town of Cochrane. I can walk to the river or drive further upstream or downstream to fly fish. The fly fishing doesn’t compare to the lower Bow River, but the crowds are not a worry out west of the city of Calgary.

In the fall, you can cast a dry fly to the end of September or fish other wet flies deep or shallow. The fall is a great time to fly fish! I love the fall colors that enhance the river valley in the fall. Ocassionally, you will see an Osprey flying over the river, looking for unsuspecting trout that might be holding in the shallower areas of the river.

Lush Growth Into September

Here it is, on the verge of September, and probably the greenist start to the fall that I have witnessed in a number of years. All of that rain that we had this summer has clear benefits to the natural landscape around these parts. The 11,200 native plants from our riparian planting program had a great chance for their first season of growth this year, growing well into and past what would normally be the end of the growing season. The new plants won’t be noticable until they have grown a few years, but it is nice to know that they will. A large crop of new plants will definitely make a real difference for the riparian zone on a few local creeks, over time.

This year, it was nice to see how our past plantings from the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” have really started to make a difference in the amount of in-stream fish habitat that there is. Our plants are now restructuring the in-channel flow dynamics and adding cover where there never was any. Willows growing along the water’s edge are now providing shade and overhead cover for trout, along with a new beauty to the stream channel.

In the photo above: All of the native willows that you see in this photo were planted years ago, and they are now starting to play an important role in improving the quality of a natural, native riparian habitat, along the stream’s flowing channel. As a fly fisher, this scene typlifies a perfect spot for a trout to hangout in. The trout would be holding in the deeper water, in the shade, where the flowing surface water hugs close to the right side of the stream bank. This is where I would float my dry fly on a drift.

Soon, Bow Valley Habitat Development will be starting to organize the 2020 riparian planting season plans. The goal for next year will be to meet our typical 10,000 plant objective for the three local streams in the program. Those streams are the Bighill Creek, West Nose Creek and Nose Creek. I look forward to another great year of planting next season!

About Guy Woods

I am Director of Bow Valley Habitat Development, based in the Town of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. I love to fly fish and it is this past time that prompted me to get involved in the field of riparian and fish habitat enhancement. I have been working in this pursuit for over 40 years!
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