Meeting My Headwaters

KevinCutthroat, Fish, Foraging, From The Wild, Greens & StuffLeave a Comment

A candid moment on the cliff our camp was on, photo by Jeff Senger.

Some topics the internet does a fine job of covering, and the Ram River fishing experience is not one of them. Way back in season 2 of From The Wild, we fly fished the Granby tributaries and fell in love with fly fishing. Ever since, I’d wanted to have a similar experience, but it made no sense to me to drive super far to find a stream with trout. I live in a river city – the North Saskatchewan. And every river has headwaters. I wanted some intimacy with the tributaries that sent water past my house. And thus the Ram River.

We were supposed to fish the river in S3 with Brayden Kozak from Three Boars/Wishbone, but got rained out and never left home. It wasn’t on the schedule for S4 because we had just come off a big pacific trip, but Hank Shaw was incoming, wild fires were burning near Kananaskis, and trail heads were closed due to Grizzlies. Options narrowed, and the Ram was in an area not inundated with smoke, closed, burning, or under fire ban.

Senger’s tent on the right, Hank and I tucked a few feed into the trees. One of the most stunning camp locations ever.

Some information you should know if you’re headed to the Ram. There is some climbing to do. See above photo. It is no leisurely stroll through a braided stream system, and box canyon segments are frequent. See photo of Hank below, fishing a pool below camp. Access to pools was not easy, nor frequent. Doable, but challenging. Hank did particularly well in settings like this with his spincast gear, our fly set ups let us down over and over in this water. You might want to bring both setups. Hank would often latch onto a fish or two right off the bat, but then they’d get wise. Then off to the next pool, which was never an easy task.

Hank fishing the box canyon, sitting on icy cold rocks after a horrid overnight in the backcountry.

Because the river narrows so hard, and there’s some serious waterfalls, you get to know the horse trails in the bush that will guide you upstream. Handy, but the horse trails also tend to stray quite far from the river…most of the time. So we’d hike, then at some point decide to make our way through the bush to see if there was a fishable pool yet. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We walked a lot of miles on those horse trails, and from time to time would be rewarded with a spot like the one below – this one’s up Ranger Creek. Ranger Creek seemed to have a good reputation online, so I had high hopes, and I also thought it was going to be a super long hike. It was neither far, nor a big difference from the Ram. Kind of more of the same, really.

Hank & Jeff fishing one of the best pools we found up at Ranger Creek, which flows into the Ram

Hank with one of the bigger Cutthroat

I left the Ram with a strange array of feelings. I left a piece of me there, and it certainly took some of my gear by force. It offered some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve encountered in our home province, and holds beautiful fish – but on this trip, all undersized for the pan. Having just come off an intensely productive trip to the pacific, the scarcity of food in this alpine region was humbling. The place is austere. And hard. And stunning. And unforgettable. And it’s my home turf.

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