March 7, 2016
By Richard Burke
I’ve lived in Lethbridge off and on since, well, let’s just say Kennedy was president and Lester Pearson was Prime Minister. This week, as another president and prime minister meet, I fished the Oldman as it flowed through the city. For the first time. Not sure why it took so long, but I guess I had just associated fishing with the mountains and headed in that direction whenever the urge hit.
It’s the second new experience on the Oldman in the past two weeks, the other about five or six clicks upstream of the Highway 2 bridge west of Fort Macleod. Friend Dean and I took up another friend’s invitation to try our hand at the river as it ran along land he owns. He was most encouraging.
Both sections have beautiful water. Not a surprise. And others certainly had reported you could catch fish, brown trout or rainbows upstream – I landed one whitefish – and everything from browns to rainbows to gold eye, pike, walleye and sturgeon at Lethbridge. The city stretch also held ling cod, Morris told me as we chatted briefly in the A and W before friend David and I geared up in the river valley.
David had called a few days earlier and said he’d never fished the river here either. But, he’s only lived in Lethbridge five years. I had no excuse.
He had done well on the Bow last week, but the Oldman was a new game. He, too, had heard of pike and walleye, so brought his eight-weight, seaworthy Sage rod and Hatch reel and an impressive array of streamers, every colour and size. He tied on something large and pink.
For no particular reason, other than laziness, I usually fish with the fly I had used on the previous trip, in this case a double bead-head stonefly nymph. But, I changed to a streamer, a Mickey Finn, actually. Why not?
With great anticipation, we started our casts downstream of the pedestrian bridge alongside the Whoop-Up Drive crossing. We’d heard good things about the water just downstream of the pedestrian bridge. . . .
Well . . . after that setup, I can’t, in good conscience, go further. I can say it was nice water (said that before), a beautiful day, good company and I’m glad I took my camera along. We did fish up to the bridge then hiked upstream to the weir, where we spent the next couple of hours.
I’ve said many times, I go fishing not (necessarily) to catch fish, but just to enjoy the day, the river, and everything around it. That way, when I get skunked, it’s OK. It really is.
As we walked back to the vehicles, parked just west of Fort Whoop-Up, we passed an older gent, carrying a couple of spinning rods and a lawn chair, headed for the weir. He’d done this many times before. You could tell.
He asked how we had done. I showed him the waterlogged driftwood under my arm I was lugging back to place in the flower garden. We wished him luck and he said over his shoulder, “Well if these don’t work, there’s always dynamite.” Hadn’t thought of that.
I’ll be back, to both sections of the river and many others – we only scratched the surface here in the city. And then there’s all that river between here and Fort Macleod and beyond.
So much water, so little time.