Sep 1st, 2016
In the heart of the rolling farm and ranch country of southwest Alberta lies a relatively unknown region with impressively large trout, wide open country and surprisingly little angling pressure. Here Cam Jensen has set up his Eastslope Adventures. Eastslope Adventures guides a host of productive and unspoiled trout fisheries in southwest Alberta, including the Castle, Oldman, Waterton and St. Mary river drainages.
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Eastslope Adventures, Alberta
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Expert Interview with Charles Gehr
Top 5 reasons to go:
1. Fish a variety of walk/wade streams in an un-pressured environment.
2. Catch hard fighting, Alaska-quality rainbow trout on small dry flies and nymphs.
3. This is a unique angling experience reminiscent of New Zealand-style fishing in a region similar to the high plains of Wyoming.
4. Fish with a colorful and, at times, demanding outfitter that has dedicated his professional life to his home waters.
5. The combination of large hard-fighting rainbows targeted with relatively small flies makes this a challenging and incredibly rewarding fishery for intermediate to advanced anglers.
Where is the lodge?
Eastslope Adventures is located in southwest Alberta, approximately 30 miles west of Cardston, Alberta.
How do I get there?
To get to the lodge you will need to make flight arrangements to Kalispell, MT (3.5 hours drive time) or Calgary, AB (2.5 hours drive time). From there you will need to rent a car and drive to the lodge.
When should I go?
June 16 – October 10 is the season. The first two weeks of the season offer great fishing, but the conditions differ from year to year. You may be fishing small mayfly dries and caddis patterns or deep nymphing under an indicator. In either situation you’re casting to fish that haven’t seen flies in over six months. The first few weeks of July are usually the time for indicators and streamers during runoff. By the end of July the water has dropped and dry fly season begins. Hopper and terrestrial season can be impressive and usually lasts until mid-September when tricos and blue-winged olives become the main fare.
Where do they fish?
The Waterton and St. Mary Rivers are the main venues. Anglers also owe it to themselves to fish the Oldman or Castle Rivers.
Who is best suited to the destination?
Anglers that prefer to fish while wading for strong, robust rainbow trout. Anyone who wants to improve their trout game, can take some constructive criticism and aren’t overly concerned with creature comforts.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
The lodge is a comfortable, rustic log building on the banks of the Waterton River. The facility is basic and utilitarian. Your room and bathroom will be cleaned before you arrive but do not get serviced throughout your stay. Meals are hearty and home style.
Describe the atmosphere and style of the lodge?
Relaxed, comfortable and focused on fishing as opposed to amenities.
Is the owner on-site?
Cam Jensen is the on-site host as well as head guide. It should be noted that Cam’s focus is heavily weighted towards the fishing. His feeling is that the purpose of the lodge is to provide a dry place to sleep and a warm meal. Each evening he spends his time taking notes on how everyone’s day went and talking with you about your best options for the following day. Cam is a skilled and seasoned guide whose communication style is brief, direct and honest.
Is there internet and cell service?
There is spotty cell phone coverage at the lodge, provided your carrier allows coverage in southwest Alberta. The lodge has a land-line telephone for emergencies and wi-fi is available throughout the property.
How do they fish?
July is dominated by nymph fishing. August and September offer your best shot at fishing dry flies. Some floats are available throughout the season but the majority of the fishing is walk/wade.
What fish will I catch?
Rainbow trout, brown trout and cutthroat trout depending on the systems you fish.
How many fish will I catch?
This is a truly wild trophy trout fishery and catch rates vary from day-to-day and system to system. On the best days you can hook serious numbers of fish but this is best thought-of as a quality, not quantity destination. Anglers can expect to hook 10 – 15 fish per person per day. Note that the larger fish on the St. Mary are very hard to land!
Will we see other anglers?
You may see other anglers at parking areas and access points, but generally not while fishing.
Is there wade fishing?
Over the course of the season 80% of the fishing is done while wading.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
Depending on where you’re fishing each day, drives are 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
What are the guides like?
Personalities will run the gamut from intense to jovial. All the guides are professionals and know their waters and fish intimately.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
The lodge can provide rods and reels if necessary. Anglers should be prepared with their own waders and boots.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
Bring a 6-weight for the St. Mary. It’s also nice to have a 3 or 4-weight rod for the cutthroat streams.
Are there other activities?
Eastslope Adventures offers Cast & Blast trips in September for upland game birds and waterfowl.
What are the physical demands?
Although the wading is not difficult anglers should expect to spend the day on their feet with a fair amount of hiking.
Are there other special skills required?
A willingness to improve your trout game. If your cast lands 14″ off of the target the guides will ask you to pick it up and re-cast.
Dangers and annoyances?
Mosquitoes at the lodge in the evenings can be a little aggressive.
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
My first trip to Eastslope Adventures I was the only angler in the lodge that brought a 5-weight and not a 6-weight. In three days of fishing I couldn’t land a fish over 22 inches even though I hooked bigger fish everyday. They were simply too hot for me to handle!