Special Christmas Post 2019

Creeks Still Flowing Good

There are still open sections on the Bighill Creek, as of yesterday. This gives the viewer an opportunity to see that plenty of flow is still traveling down the stream channel. It is comforting to know we still have good flow this time of year in the Bighill. Water quality and its volume of flow are major concerns these days, with so many flood events happening on this continent. Our wild trout populations are dependent on a good supply of flow coming out of the ground and its water table and aquifer.

This particular reach of the Bighill Creek is open and free from ice for most of the winter. I know that there are some ground water springs feeding into this section of the BH Creek. On bright sunny days, the water and streambed appears so dark on a snow covered landscape.

December’s Crispy Cold Mornings On The River

A icy cold morning on the Bow River in Cochrane. The frazil ice is flowing downstream, where it will collect at the Bearspaw Dam and form larger chunks of river ice. This river ice will slowly work its way back upstream towards Cochrane. On really cold winters the ice build up in Cochrane will travel further upstream. I recall really cold winters with huge ice build up near the mouth of the Jumpingpound Creek.

Double Ribbing Nymph Patterns

Using just silver wire for ribbing on your nymph patterns works great, but if you would like to add additional sparkle to your flies, try double ribbing with a flashy Mylar to enhance your silver wire rib. This is a technique that has been used by tiers of Atlantic Salmon Flies and Steelhead patterns for many years. The wire is wrapped over the smaller more fragile tinsel or in this case, Mylar. The double wrapping helps prevent sharp fish teeth from snapping your sparkle ribbing.

The fine Mylar ribbing, with a purple hue, is covered with a wrap of silver wire to help re-enforce the ribbing on this durable nymph fly pattern for trout.

If you use this method of double wrapping, you will get more mileage out of your nymphs, with a little added sparkle. The Crisscross nymph uses the same double wrap, but the wire is over wrapped in an opposite direction. On some days, while fly fishing the Bow River, I will use a little extra sparkle in my nymphs, to entice a take.

This dark brown double rib nymph is another sample of a multi wrapped rib pattern. Brass Mylar and wire is used. I like to use a variety of wire sizes, but the one shown is a 34 gauge brass wire.

The Fence Bank Stabilization Site

There are some key bank stabilization planting sites that are a little more important than others, the fence bank stabilization site is one of those. Since our planting of native willows along the water’s edge at the site, the new growth has definitely stopped further erosion at the site, even after a major flood event this summer. Over the next few years, the planted willows should shoot up in height and thickness.

This is a photograph of the fence bank stabilization site, before we planted native willows along the water’s edge.
This is the site, after a few years of growth along the water’s edge. You can see the native willows that we planted are really starting to take hold on the creek. These kind of stream bank stabilization sites are proving that native willow planting is a viable option, when stream bank stability is the objective.

Since our first planting, the end of the fence was moved back slightly, to insure that it would not collapse into the creek. Now the growing willows should stop future toe erosion on the high stream bank. We get fish habitat and erosion prevention, all from our planting efforts over recent years. The planting was part of the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”.

This is a closer look at the bottom end of the stabilization site. You can see that stream bank further down has collapsed and will need a future planting. The collapsing section was already like that when the original planting took place. If a bank is on the verge of collapse, you don’t plant on it. It is also dangerous to attempt to plant a collapsing bank. This unless it has been dry for a long period of time and the conditions are right, for a trained professional planter to complete the task. This is where I step up to the task, when necessary.

New Article On The Jumpingpound Creek Stream Bank Stabilization Project 1996

I have just added an article update on the 1996 JP Creek stream bank stabilization project. This project was designed by Alberta Environment, River Engineering Branch, and implemented by Bow Valley Habitat Development, of Cochrane. Just scroll to the top of the page and click on the link or title.

It is amazing how the deflectors changed the course of the JP Creek and stopped an unstable steep stream bank slope, from continuing to slide into the stream channel. This has reduced the annual silt loading on the lower reach of the JP Creek and helped improve spawning conditions for the migrating rainbow trout that move up the JP to spawn every spring.

The success of this project demonstrates how landowners, NGO’s and provincial government agencies can come together and work towards resolving negative impacts to our local trout streams. The Jumpingpound Creek is the only spawning tributary for rainbow trout, for the Bow River, between Ghost Dam and Bearspaw Dam.

New Willow Trout Habitat – Immeasurable!

Over this past summer, it was really nice to see that some of our first plantings along the streams in our program, were starting to provide incredible fish habitat. The willows on the stream banks, were now overhanging the surface of the stream, with some submerged cover as well. These habitats are hard to access, but experience thru fly fishing, tells me the overhead cover of willows is being used to the full extent.

This pool cover of willow plants, were all planted as part of the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”. They are now providing excellent overhead cover for the stream’s resident trout population.
This riffle run has adequate depth to hold trout, all it needed was the planted native willows that are now growing along the stream bank’s water’s edge. BVHD volunteers did all of the planting. It is a great location for a hungry trout, with a current to bring down any tiny morsels that the creek has to offer. A stone-fly, mayfly, caddis or midge, would all drift under the cover of willows where trout can feed safely.

Fly Fishing – Thoughts of Bye Gone Days

Days gone by, rainbow trout like this were once a common catch for the keen fly fisher, on the Bow River near Cochrane. The rich green algae on the rocks has now been replaced by “Diddymoss” a.k.a. “Rock Snot”. The aquatic invertebrates were once plentiful enough to sustain a relatively good rainbow trout sport fishery.

At one time, I thought it maybe impossible to ever see rainbow trout spawning on Bighill Creek, in Cochrane, but now my expectations have changed a bit. The lower reach of Bighill Creek has cleaned up so much in recent years that rainbow spawning, in the future, maybe within the realm of possibility. Rainbow Trout need cleaner flowing streams in the spring of the year, so that their eggs will not smoother or asphyxiate under a thick layer or film of silt. The Jumpingpound Creek is ideal for spawning rainbow trout, but it is the only spawning tributary on this particular reach of the Bow River.

It would be nice to have a backup stream, where the rainbow trout could spawn, somewhere between Bearspaw Dam and The Ghost Dam. The spring runs would always provide some very pleasurable fly fishing, during the spring migrations on the river. This was the time of year when you could hook into a large Bearspaw rainbow trout, but poor fisheries management, with liberal harvest limits on the Bearspaw, resulted in a diminished stock of the JP Strain of rainbow trout.

I remember back when we were radio tracking the spawning migration up the Jumpingpound Creek, some rainbows would travel 35 kilometres up into the forestry reach of the JP Creek. It is doubtful we will see that kind of activity during the spawning season, in our present day fishery. Hardly anyone still fly fishes during the spring anymore, because there just isn’t the number of trout that there once was.

This is a photo of some migrating rainbow trout that were caught on the JP Creek in the spring. The fish were captured during a trout trapping project on the JP Creek, in the spring of 1993. I was part of a spawning study that was being carried out on the creek that year. A few years later, a radio tracking project was completed, using radio transmitters in rainbow trout and an airplane for tracking the fish. It was during that study, when a trout was documented to be 35 kilometres upstream.

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