Text and Photos by Bob Sheedy
The Southwestern Trout Streams, Part 2
I had to return.
Under Rick's expert tutelage we arrived at the Second Bridge on Battle Creek, slightly
south from my former haunt and hosting a deeper run. We half crawled to the edge and,
kneeling, began slinging flies into its hatch-less October depths. After the nymphs of summer
were again ignored, I knotted on a Psychedelic P-Quad and began hand twisting it along
the bottom. The third cast resulted in a tussle with a fourteen-inch brown which was followed
by another. This convinced Rick to join me in using this incongruous fall stillwater pattern.
Soon he was posing with a foot-long specimen and we moved to tackle other areas. After
spooking a horde of brookies from the redds, we probed roots, undercut banks, and tangles
of driftwood until quitting time. Most fish taken were under a foot, for the larger specimens
were hormonally over-charged, but it was the best day I had on a stream since I left Ontario
twenty some years before. Battle Creek is a gorgeous place, with an insatiable appetite for
devouring film - and flies that tend to cling to the pines in the process of steeple-casting in
the tight overhanging environment. It is a model creek, a text-book environment- challenging,
but easily walked as it lacks the impenetrable willows of Belanger Creek and other creeks
I first discovered the Cypress fishery in 1997 when I was invited to participate in a trout-fishing
seminar along with Mac Warner. There, I first met Dale Wig, our guide for the pristine
environments of Calf and Conglomerate Creeks. Dale turned eight that first year and had
saved his money for tuition to attend the annual Trout Festival hosted by the park. Today,
at the ripe old age of eleven, he's an accomplished fly caster. Like us, he was disappointed
to find that the sizeable trout were procreating in an off-limits area. Since the fishery is
replenished largely by natural reproduction, we gave up after only one fish, caught by
Rick, and headed across pasture and meadow to the brookies of Calf Creek.
Calf is a series of beaver dams surrounded by towering spruces. Walking was good,
but the sizeable brookies were occupied elsewhere. We splashed around, cast and
stripped and fed flies to the spruces. We did catch and release numerous smaller trout
and enjoyed watching Dale's expert streamcraft. As we returned near dusk we spooked
a herd of 18 elk from the meadow and watched them run into the coulee. And on the
drive back to Cypress, we had difficulty negotiating the back roads, which had been
claimed by hordes of mule deer that stood and watched as we motored slowly past. I
have never seen so many deer in my life, or so many trophy racks attached to their
Other than the Bone and Frenchman, normal stream patterns are applicable in the region,
save for spawning times. The Gold-ribbed Hare's ear is a favorite, especially when supplied
with a gold bead head and perhaps a few micro shot for the swifter sections.
Once the grasshoppers mature and begin to plop onto the surface, fly box speculation
narrows to a food group of one.
The big, wary fish of the Bone and Frenchman Rivers take more preparation, although
knowing locals simply whisper "Dragonfly nymphs". Of these, the most knowledgeable
tells me, "Tie them big, dark and ugly." Looking around the rivers I'd have to agree,
although on the swifter sections of the Bone I'd like to try some large stonefly nymphs.
All the streams have abundant populations of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis.
Rick, a repository of knowledge for the area and former Conservation Officer, is now the
assistant manager of Cypress Hills Provincial Park and is largely responsible for most of
the improved fisheries in the area. He hosts the annual Cypress Hills Trout Festival.
Battle Creek Flies
An excellent map and guide pamphlet (including phone numbers of landowners),
Trout Streams In Southwest Saskatchewan is available by phoning (306) 662-3606.
~ Bob Sheedy