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By markl
The Wine, The Beer, The Whiskey

All trips start with the same key ingredients. Five in my books – 1. Some people you want to spend time with; 2. Stories about the ‘last time’; 3. Wine, beer, whiskey and cigars; 4. Some good food, ideally cooked over a BBQ; and lastly, 5. Water you believe holds some fish and runs through beautiful real estate. Everything else is pretty much gravy.
This trip started with all these key ingredients. As had each and every one for the past 17 years. But, like a street hooker from the wrong side of town, this one also came with a nasty disease. Covid had already spread its tentacles through our Spring trip and cratered it. We were determined not to let it happen in the Fall. We are all Canadians – at least by birth. Most of us growing up in the same hometown of Calgary. But, some had drifted south. One even stayed. Sadly, especially for him, he would not be making this trip. That aside, we were committed.

Not that we weren’t already stuck in Groundhog Day, but we all agreed in the run up to lay low and keep our bubbles small. Sadly, not really an issue.

For those of us coming from far, we boarded planes and prepared for 2-4 hours of masks and no booze. A grim start. BTW, there’s no way Jason wear’s that goalie mask for days on end. I call bullshit on that. Anyway, two of us are flying from Toronto to Calgary and the flight is full. Seriously. Six empty seats. WTF?!?!? I mean, where are these people coming from? It’s not like it’s Stampede and they’re all heading to Cowboys.
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Anyway, we land, and so does all our gear. Not always a given. I’m grateful to get out of the airport and remove my mask. Just as I do, my brother rolls up in his little Audi wagon. Thankful to see him. Though, as I crouch down and squeeze in, I grumble, as I do every year, why he can’t have a truck like every other Calgarian. Maybe the rolled up cuffs on his skinny jeans are the answer. I don’t know. Though I may have had more leg room on the flight, at least my mask is off.
We are now on our way here. But, still no booze. That is to change in about 2 hours.
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We have our first routine, which is to stop in at the Frank Slide liquor store. Which is open 24/7. Sometimes you have to wait for the owner to wake up and come down. We’ve arrived as late as 2am some years and still had service. Ya just gotta love it.
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Wine, beer, scotch. All is good. One of us arrived early and did some grocery shopping, so no more stops. Even better. He’s a foodie. So, we will not go hungry, and there will be no weight loss this trip.

Day 1
As always, the first stop is the Fly Shop to see Al and Suzie and for advice from whatever young punk of a guide is there and doesn’t know us and that we will milk him for everything he’s got. As a fee for the advice, we buy flies and at least one of us makes some manner of major purchase. Even if we don’t need it. This year, it was several of us getting new ‘vests’. For me, I have this ongoing test of trying new carrying strategies. I am now on a bit of a Spartan kick. I dumped my old waist pack for a sleek sash style one. Is there a big difference? Well, my wife (and most of my group) would say no. But, Suzie and I quite enjoy my game. Besides, she says we all carry way to much shit.

We used to have a cup of coffee and snack when at the Shop, but between the size of our breakfasts and our age-related issues with too many coffees in waders, we now just shop.
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It started off well.
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We had to fish here.
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And here. BTW, that’s Peter. He says he is retying. But, we all know he’s really just getting ready for a nap. Which he does.
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And here.
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And here.
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For more of these.
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And all in gin clear water. Yep, it sucked.
Eventually, we called it a day and headed back to some of this.
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I’d drop in a couple of pics of the steak, wine and scotch after this. But, I can no more do that than I could take the pics once they all hit the table. I’m pretty sure you can imagine what they would look like anyway. If you can’t. Envision a puddle of steak blood, several empty wine bottles, and a seriously dented bottle of scotch. My only complaint is that I got voted down on the Lagavulin. Apparently, ‘too peaty’ for some. I managed.

[More to come]
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By markl
Day 2
We hire Al to guide us Day 2. We tell ourselves it is because he takes us to new water that we can add to the list of spots. Which is true. But, we all know that it is because of his lunches. We bring the beer, scotch and cigars. He brings the lunch – and, a new spot to fish.

Day 2 starts with a bit of a hike. So as to lose the toy hauler crowd.
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And drop down into this.
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For some of these.
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And these.
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Lunch is curried chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, bean salad and cold beer. Al does not disappoint. It was finished off with a shot of scotch and a cigar. It was OK 😉
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As you can see, had we made it to a bar (and not had to wear masks), we would be no threat to the local female population. If we gave a shit.
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We hiked back out.
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Dinner that night was local hot Italian sausage and pasta. Always a night 2 meal as we get back late. I think there was something green with it too. Can’t recall. Everything else was pretty much the same as the night before. Thankfully.

[More to come}
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By BigTimber
Canuckian guide lunches are the best!

more please.
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By stillsteamin
Oh hell ya. Love that country, missed it this year. Bet it's nice and quiet this year too without all the hosers from down south gumming up the works
User avatar
By markl
Day 3
Another hike.
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To drop into this. You can’t see it well. But, that’s over a 60 foot drop down to a sweet pool at the edge of the tail water.
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This is it from down below.
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We had some company. How they get up and down some of those hills is amazing. Maybe that’s what makes Alberta beef so awesome.
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We took a bit of time to smell the ‘roses’.
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{more to come]
We managed to dredge up a few of these.
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After lunch we fished our way out through this.
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Having brought a respectable number of fish to net, we decided it was time to wrap with scotch. But, being Covid and all, elected not to share flasks. The kids old glassware came in handy.
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As any trip should have it, there was a last cast. OK, more than one. But, the ‘last’ one resulted in this.
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Day 4
Day 4 was a trip back to Calgary to celebrate my mom’s 81st birthday with both my brothers. Something that rarely happens these days. She only feels comfortable heading out to the ‘Country Club’ and eating on their patio. Not having planned well, this meant a trip to the Bay for pants and a blazer, as I only had jeans and old shirts. The things you do – when you don’t plan ahead. No wet waders or fishy smelling hands, but not a bad way to end a trip.

I can’t begin to describe how elated we all were to make this happen this year (well, except for ‘the American’), and we’re looking forward to next year. Next year’s Spring and Fall trips are already in the calendar. We’ve even included ‘the American’. Let’s just hope some sanity prevails, we get the numbers down, and we can get back and forth across the longest undefended border.

These trips aren’t about fishing. If they were, we’d have quit long ago and it would be with very different people. Hell, I wouldn’t be included. But, they are about time with those that matter. Well, some of them anyway. Oh, and the wine, the beer, the whiskey.

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