The St. Mary River (Corey Bullock/Kimberley Bulletin)

My spare time

A stream, a fly and a fish; an amateur angler’s thoughts on fly fishing

Standing waist deep in the cool water of the St. Mary’s River, feeling the rocks beneath my feet, casting out my line and splash; a cutthroat trout hits my fly from the surface of the water.

For me, fishing has become a time to connect with nature and my surroundings. It’s peaceful, quiet time; it’s introspection as much as it is discovery.

As J. Lukiwski once said, “each loop I throw out is a prayer, a forgiveness offered to myself for my own shortcomings, a hope for anger dissolved, gratitude for lessons learned, the stripping away of my fears. The river is the coolest, flowing-est, loveliest, most consistent thing in the valley and the fish give me something extra to tether my faith to.”

For someone who is relatively new to fly fishing, in just one year I have discovered a lot about myself, the fish and the river systems here in Kimberley.

Kimberley is a mecca for trout fishing. I believe we can learn a lot from fish and their habitat. Fly fishing can take you places you would never otherwise go. It allows you to connect with your body as well as nature. It is humbling and challenging and exhilarating all at the same time.

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after,” – Henry David Thoreau.

Wether you’re just starting out, or you’re an experienced angler, the St. Mary River is by far one of the closest, most beautiful and most abundant places to fish in Kimberley.

As the tourism Kimberley website states, “the St. Mary River is a classic free stone stream which flows gently for some 80 kilometres before joining the Kootenay River. Anglers consider it to be one of the finest dry fly-fisheries for rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout in North America.”

There is an overwhelming about of information about fly fishing out there. I have learned a lot from friends and family; they have realistically taught me everything I know about angling.

From finding a spot, to setting up your rod and tying on your fly, casting, hook setting, bringing in and releasing a fish, there are many different opinions out there on how things can and should be done. At the end of the day, it’s personal; it’s up to you and most of all, the fish.

Fishing can be a real test of patience; sometimes I get frustrated when the fish aren’t convinced, or my line gets tangled in the bushes, but for me it’s all about that time spent in nature.

“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.” – Paul O’Neil.

That being said, my absolute favourite part about fly fishing is releasing the fish from the net. There is something so satisfying about watching a fish go back to their home, to continue to grow and develop and be a part of the amazing ecosystem they live in.

There are a lot of important things to consider when fly fishing, which is why it’s helpful to go with someone who is experienced. Catch and release, using a single barbless hook, playing the fish for as short a time as possible, making sure they spend very little time out of the water and having an up to date classified waters license are some of the things I always practice as an angler.

If you want to find out more information, fishing regulations for the Kootenays can be found online at env.gov.bc.ca under fishing regulations for region four. It also helps to talk to the friendly folks at local fishing outfits as they have knowledgable and experienced anglers who can help you with virtually anything you need to know about fishing the local lakes and streams.

“Ours is the grandest sport. It is an intriguing battle of wits between an angler and a trout; and in addition to appreciating the tradition and grace of the game, we play it in the magnificent out-of-doors.” – Ernest G. Shweibert, Jr.

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