Snow Storage – Along Creeks

One of the most critical areas for snow collection on stream watersheds, during the winter months, is the riparian zone and beyond. Willows allow snow to fall and collect around their base, on the ground. The snow falls through the leafless branches in the winter and slowly builds. In shaded valley bottoms, this snow will stay until spring. The sun’s arc across the horizon is low, so valley bottoms don’t get much of the sun’s heat, on those warmer Chinook days. Once the frost is out of the ground, the melting snow will percolate down into the ground and eventually into the creek.

The snow that falls thru winter poplars does the same, but there are a good bed of leaves on the ground, where the accumulating water freezes and can be stored as ice until spring. The spruce and pines will eventually shed the snow in the form of melt, the melting snow will flow as water into the ground cover of moss. The melt water will also form ice in the moss and be there for the spring thaw. The spruce trees in our area are mostly on the north facing slopes, so there is always lots of moss to store water in.

This photo shows a perfect snow shed, holding lots of snow in the winter months. The creek is now covered in snow.

It is now only a few days until the new year and we have huge amounts of snow in the bush, along the creeks. If this keeps up, we may see a banner year for flow in the streams, come spring thaw.

This will be the first time in memory that I have witnessed open water at this time of the winter. I believe that the full water table, with plenty of flow coming out of the ground springs, is responsible for this. The warmer ground water is opening up ice cover on the lower reach of the creek.

Using Permanent Markers For Fly Tying

A neat little trick for tying multi color thorax nymph patterns is to use a permanent marker for color effects on your tying thread. The wing case on a nymph pattern is usually darker than the thorax underneath, so by darkening the thread with a marker pen, you can tie a more realistic pattern.

The thread has been darkened on the top of this wing case, using a dark brown permanent marker.
The thread underneath, on this pattern, has been left to match the color of the dubbing.

The marker pen ink should be left to dry a bit, before the head cement is added to the top of the wing case. After application, I leave the head cement a few seconds, before I blot the top of the wing case with my thumb, to take away any shiny cement. This leaves the top of the wing case with a more natural texture on the finished fly pattern.

This method of putting color permanent ink on the thread will save you having to change thread color for some patterns. I always have multiple color ink markers handy, when I am tying flies.

West Nose Creek Brown Trout – Moving Upstream

There is now a growing population of brown trout in West Nose Creek. In recent years, the spawning on West Nose Creek has occurred on the bottom reach, which includes about 10 kilometres of stream channel. This area is also populated with a growing number of brown trout. In the last few years, I have learned that other fly fishers have or are exploring the stream with their fly rods. This is great news, because now there are a few other anglers that can help keep me up to date on how the fishery is doing.

A few years ago, I was able to confirm a successful hatch of spawned brown trout eggs from the previous fall. This occurred when I actually caught a juvenile brown trout from the previous fall’s spawn on the creek. The trout was only 80 mm in length and I caught it on a size 20 nymph. The catch was made, just downstream of Harvest Hills overpass, on West Nose Creek, in the early fall of 2016.

You can see the Harvest Hills overpass in the background of this photo. The tiny brown trout was 80mm in length.

A monitoring of trout populations on West Nose Creek will continue in the future. There are good spawning habitats further upstream, but it will take a few years before the trout can migrate up into the upper reaches, within the city of Calgary. I know that our willow and tree planting efforts will help create the well needed habitat to enhance what already exists, in pool and deep run habitats on West Nose Creek.

These willows, that were planted right along the water’s edge, on West Nose Creeks upper reach, will help provide the well needed habitat that brown trout love.

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