I have fished all my life, and started fly fishing around 1990. I fished Hasse Lake because it was convenient to Edmonton and had good trout back then. I thought I could save money by tying my own flies so my wife bought me a kit. I learned to tie flies from books; one of the best was Paul Fling and Donald Puterbaugh’s Basic Manual of FlyTying.
Being a librarian I read everything I could find about fly fishing and tying. The cheap vise lasted me for about 300 flies before it wouldn’t hold a hook anymore, so I upgraded to a Thompson Pro A vise. (Since then I have bought and used many vises, and currently have 4 of them set up in my tying room, and another one in my travel kit.)
The first trout I caught on a fly I tied myself was a brown from a small obscure stream near Rocky Mountain House. The fly was a Mickey Finn. Several people have since told me, authoritatively, that brown trout can’t be caught on such a fly. So much for expert opinion. The first heavy hatch that I encountered was Blue Winged Olives on a September long weekend on the North Ram River. Between my friend and I we had nothing small enough to match this hatch. We caught a few on larger dries, but we were frustrated because the trout were rising everywhere and we could not consistently catch them. Our trip ended the next day with a snowstorm. I thought I would be able to buy flies to match this hatch, but my trips to the stores were unsuccessful. Nothing was small enough to match the size of these BWOs.
The place I learned to fly fish was Stauffer Creek. This is not someplace I would recommend to someone starting out, but it was there that I met Don Andersen, the split-cane rod maker from Rocky Mountain House. He took pity on me, and showed me what to use and how to fish this challenging spring creek. The first fly he gave me was a size 18 parachute BWO. Though Don I met Barry Mitchell who also showed me Stauffer Creek, and re-introduced me to the Blackstone River which I had first fished in 1966 with my family. Through Don and Barry I met more people and expanded my fishing throughout Alberta and into BC.
I fished Stauffer intensely for several years, and still go there a couple times a year to remind myself to keep my backcasts out of the willows. I prefer stream fishing over lake fishing by a large margin because it is easier. I go lake fishing when I have to, but I would rather be walking up a stream and fishing the likely holding spots than rowing around a lake.
Since the mid 90s I have been involved with Trout Unlimited Canada Edmonton Chapter and I was one of the founding members of Northern Lights Fly Fishers in Edmonton. When the two clubs merged in 2010 I stepped away for a while, but have been more active in the last few years.