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Jim Fox

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  1. This year's Alberta Conclave was held August 16-22 on the banks of the North Ram River. We had a good crowd out from both Northern Lights and the internet FF@ list.. Weather this year was mixed and we began the week under a fire ban. Luckily for us, we got some rain and were able to have several nice evenings under the stars with the fire that is a critical part of these gatherings. The fishing was OK, with a few hatches (flying ants, BWOs and something that brought fish to large messy white flies). Some real hogs were caught, including one reputed to be 24". I did not see that one myself but Michael caught it and Tyzun saw it so it has some provenance. Some pictures, mostly from Wally Lutz, can be seen here: https://flywing.smugmug.com/Fishing/North-Ram-2021/i-zhS9nXP I am bad at reporting the details of the event but you can see that those who were able to get out had a great time. Some gorgeous wild Alberta westslope cutthroat trout were brought to hand and released. Stories were traded, opinions were argued, and time was spent together among friends. As the discussion about vaccines, government actions from COVID, and other news swirls around us like wildfire, I can distance myself by thinking back a couple of weeks to chilly morning coffee with old friends, to the swirl of water around my knees and the adrenaline rush of a fish rising to the spot where I think my fly is. Nothing beats that. Here is a big thank you to everyone who came out and made this event a success, Next year will be, I think, the 25th Alberta Conclave that I have been involved in. Planning for the 2022 event will start in a couple of months and I will let you know then when and where. If you are a regular, mark your calendar. If you haven't come out in the past, maybe this should be your year... Jim
  2. One last message before I head out in the morning. Everything is set for our Alberta Conclave beginning tomorrow on the North Ram River. We are experiencing a lot of heat and smoke here in Calgary and I am hoping for a bit of cooler weather and maybe even a bit of rain to take the smoke out of the air. Recent reports suggest moderately good fishing and less crowd than in other parts of the Alberta backcountry. The company will be fantastic I am sure. Drive safe everyone and I hope to see you all. I should be rolling in mid=afternoon. Jim
  3. Hey everyone, two weeks out for the conclave. I've got a couple of things to update everyone on now: The weather has been hot with little rain for a month so hope for some rain between now and then. There is also an open fire ban in place right now and I would not expect that to change. If you have a propane "fire pit" bring it along and it will get good use. If nobody has one, we can sit around a lantern. The stories will still be the same and we won't have to cut wood. I believe people need to buy a Public Lands Camping Pass to stay at the site. Information can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/public-lands-camping-pass.aspx My intent is to come up Monday (I rented a trailer again) and I should be there by mid-afternoon. That's about it for now. I know from previous messages that some of you will be there. If you haven't already, let me know if you are going to attend and we can keep an eye out for you. Or, you can join the search party for me when I miss the turn, break down, or find some really fishy water I just can't leave. Looking forward to seeing you all! Jim
  4. I haven't been sending updates but I have heard a few questions so here is an update of Alberta Conclave 2021. We are on! August 16-22 at the Nice and Easy site on the North Ram River. To drive, go about 1 km west of the access road to Nordegg to get to the Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 40/734) and turn south. Drive down the FTR for about 36 km (you will cross the North Saskatchewan River - keep going) to the North Fork Road. Turn east and follow North Fork Road for about 10km to get to the Nice and Easy site (Google maps says it's GPS coordinates are 52.269793, -115.812253). If you start going up a long hill, you probably passed the turnoff. I will put up a sign when I get there. Chances are good that there will be others in the area along with us but it is quite large and naturally breaks up into several separate sites. The camping location is not serviced but still pretty nice. The last time I was there, an outhouse had even been built by someone who runs free-range cattle in the area. We are just back from the river but it is close enough for the sound to lull you to sleep at night. If you don't know it, the Ram River system holds abundant and sometimes spectacularly large Cutthroat Trout. Hiking is often required to get to the best spots but it is worth it! I would like to try some South Ram fishing this year, as well as hiking a bit further down the river than I've been in the past. I might even bring my mountain bike (I don't own a quad) to make that trip a bit easier. Other fishing opportunities within driving range include the upper North Saskatchewan River, the Blackstone River and Frenchman’s Creek. If you want to access this last bit of water, expect to supply Michael Dell with a really good bottle of scotch. To respect COVID concerns, I will not plan a potluck this year. Friday night is normally our big celebration night, to tell lies and remember friends who are no longer with us. Alberta conclave veterans, families, flyfishing newbies and everyone else is most welcome. Let me know if you are coming and we can be sure to stake out some space for you. Or just show up - we can always squeeze in a few more people. You can email me at jim_and_dorothy@hotmail.com if you have questions or comments. I hope to see you there! Jim
  5. Friends, here is your first notice about our FF@/Northern Lights 2021 Alberta Conclave. We will be gathering again in central Alberta to fish on the Ram, Blackstone, North Saskatchewan and tributary streams. Our dates are August 16 to 22. The current plan is to camp along the North or South Ram River somewhere. Our last conclave on the Ram was at a spot referred to as "Nice & Easy" and that is one option in the running. Another was suggested and I want to check it out before settling. Off-grid camping was amazingly popular in Alberta last summer and spots were hard to secure. I will finalize the specific location closer to the actual date. Look at your calendars and ask if this is your year to join our gathering. There will be westslope cutthroats, bulls, rainbows and whitefish if you travel a bit, and the best company you could find. I hope to see you there! Jim
  6. The clavemaster skill that I am worst at is writing up a summary of the trip. When the event is over, I start thinking about next year, not reminiscing about this one. However, only a week late, here is a bit of an overview of the 2020 Alberta Conclave. We had a great turnout, considering the pandemic situation that is affecting us all. Attendees included: Irene & Dan - thank you for saving the site! Terry Michael Karen Ervin Alberta Al Andrew Zach Farrah and Pau Dave R I don’t think I have forgotten anyone but if I have, please forgive me. I arrived on Monday afternoon and found a crowd there already. I got a couple of hours on the Blackstone before dark and after dinner enjoyed a sip of whisky at the fire. The rest of the week went about the same - drive over a better or worse road to a fishing spot; endure sun, rain, hail, sun, repeat all day; fish in tough conditions and head home ready to sit down and jaw around the fire. Our “COVID Clave” camp was not that different from normal - just a bit more distance around the fire (which means it had to be bigger!). Fishing was slow, though I caught a beautiful bull trout on a dry fly and we saw some fantastic cutthroat taken from deep pools. I think the water was still pretty cold - insect life seemed to still be in a June mode in mid-July. Friday night, around another fantastic campfire, the whole group shared in a memorial to Scott Rowan. Scott was a long-time FF@ member, Alberta Conclave attendee, and my friend. I first met met at one of the Cataract Creek conclaves in 2001 or 2002 and he was a regular attendee thereafter. We fished together many times and shared many fires. My heart is sore at Scott’s passing. The 2020 Alberta Clave celebrated our memory of Scott with a very fine Irish whisky and great reminiscing. Saturday dawned with the same rain and sun mix that we saw all week. Karen and Ervin had already left by the time I rose and I took that as a sign to head back to civilization. On my way home, a tire blew out on the rented trailer I was towing and I did not have the right lug wrench. A friendly tow truck driver from Rocky came out to help and I was back at home in time for dinner. Another Alberta Conclave under our belts. 2020 has been a devil of a year. Our Alberta Conclave on the Blackstone River reminded me how important it is to be in contact with friends, old and new. That is what this is all about, our FF@ and NLFTF participation - the opportunity to bond with other fine people, to broaden our outlooks and deepen our friendships. My soul is fuller for having been part of this event. Thank you to everyone who did get out. For those who wanted but could not attend, you were missed but we will have another trip next year. The “COVID Clave” reminded me what an important event I have the honour of planning. I hope to see you all in 2021 with the sun warming our backs and rising trout before us. Jim Fox
  7. Last week, heavy rains in the area have raised the North Ram River enough to actually wash out part of the road, leading to the camp site we have used for years. I do not have enough time to re-scout for another option so I am officially changing the location. Mike Dell confirmed that the road to the site we camp at on the Blackstone River is open so that is where the Conclave Headquarters will be located this year. To drive, head west on Highway 11 from Rocky Mountain House. Go about 1 km west of the access road to Nordegg to get to The Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 40/734). Turn north (right) and drive to Chungo Road - a major road peeling off to the left. Drive up Chungo Road until you cross the Blackstone (it will be the first decent-sized river you cross) and up the little hill. There is a fairly large field on both sides of the road. If all goes well, we should be camped on the left side of the road. However, this is random camping and can't be reserved so it could be either side. Therefore, if you do not see a sign that says FF@/NLFT Alberta Conclave, look on the other side of the road. We have camped in the same location on several occasions before. There are numerous creeks in addition to the Blackstone in the area. Some are fed mostly through muskeg, meaning they stay clean during hard rain. I will bet someone will even take a side-trip to drive down to the Ram, though I have heard that it is quite dirty still. Google Maps says the site is here: 52.615902, -116.327583 This is the first time we have ever had to change the location of a conclave so close to the date. Share this with anyone you think might be interested in attending. I am making a large-ish sign so people can see our location easily. If there is no sign, I am driving a grey Toyota Highlander with the license plate SGX 814. You can also call me before about noon on July 20 at 403-471-3108 as I will be within cell range until then at least. If nothing else, COVID has taught us to be resilient. This minor change won't kill the conclave of 2020 for me. See you there! Jim
  8. Four weeks out and it is time for an update. With all we are going through, I am very much looking forward to this trip. First on location, I will be heading up to the site on Monday, hoping there is sufficient space for us. I was up on the Oldman River a week ago and the camping sites were very full. If we can't get the planned-for site (location below), I will find another one that works and post a sign on the road. I will also try to head to cell coverage Monday night or Tuesday morning and post something to these lists. In whatever case, look for the sign with the FF@/Northern Lights logo. One change will have to be made from previous years. A highlight of the Alberta Conclaves past was the pot-luck dinner on Friday or Saturday evening. I do not know a way to do this and deliver a measure of safety so I am going to cancel the pot luck. We can simulate that fun time by all cooking our own dinners at the same time and eating together. I think we will also need to be careful about car-pooling to spots but we can probably deal with that on the spot. It is probably a good idea to bring masks to wear if sharing rides. In this challenging time, it is very important to me to make this trip. Not only to cut into the stress I am experiencing (and I am sure everyone else is) but also to remember Scott Rowan - long time Alberta Conclave participant and good friend. I look forward to seeing people coming out. All are welcome! The fishing will be as it is but no matter what the company will be great. At an appropriate distance of course. Please let me know if you are thinking about coming - you can email me directly at jim_and_dorothy@hotmail.com. Jim
  9. For those of you who do not follow the FF@ listserve or Facebook page, I am sad to pass along the news that Scott Rowan passed away a couple of weeks ago in Victoria. Scott was a regular attendee at the Alberta Conclaves and met many of you on our lovely Alberta waters. Scott was a good fishing companion for me for over 20 years. He is missed... Jim
  10. I normally send this announcement out early in the new year but 2020 has offered up many challenges so far. Now that I have time on my hands thanks to Coronavirus, I am making the formal call for the 2020 edition of the long-running Alberta Conclave! We will gather again on the North Ram River at the Nice & Easy site (located at 52.269793, -115.812253 according to Google Maps) from July 20 to 26 2020. This timing gets us later in the summer but away from the long-weekend crowds. The location is the same as last year. It is a great site, directly on the river with abundant space for a large group. There was even an outhouse, with a lovely view. The site is located about 10km east of the Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 40) on the North Fork Road. When we get closer to the time, I will supply easy to follow directions. The Ram River system holds abundant and sometimes spectacularly large Cutthroat Trout. Hiking is often required to get to some of the best spots but last year a 20" cuttie was caught within sight of the campsite. Other options in the area include the Blackstone, the Upper North Saskatchewan, and Frenchman's Creek (though you might have to bribe someone to show you this one). There will be a pot-luck on the last or second last night, good company, some fly-tying, some BSing around a fire and fine fishing in a beautiful location. Newbies, partners, kids and dogs all welcome! I will send out some more information and reminders closer to the date. Hope to see you there! Jim Fox
  11. Heading out this morning and I'll see you all there! Jim
  12. Thanks for this Dave! We will see you next week. Jim
  13. So just a week to go before our Ram River gathering. I got a question about how to get there and here (thanks to Michael Dell) are a couple of options: From the east, the North Fork Road turns off Hwy 752 at the Strachan campground. There is pavement for 8 km, then gravel for the rest of the 54 km. Some sections are good gravel, some are rough. Watch the signs as there are a couple roads which fork off. The Nice & Easy site is at the bottom of a long hill just after the road takes a 90 degree bend to the west. I think it is the first place you can see the river for quite a long time. One alternative way to get there is to take highway 11 to Nordegg, and then go south on the Trunk Road to just before the bridge over the North Ram River. Then east on the North Fork Road. The amount of gravel is about the same both ways, but the North Fork Road from 752 is an hour long trip, whereas it is an hour to Nordegg on 11, and then another 1/2 hour down the Trunk Road, and another 15-20 minutes to km 62. Another alternative is to take 752 all the way to the Trunk Road (732) and then up the Trunk Road to the North Ram. This is the longest and has the most gravel, but you cross over Elk Creek (4 or 5 bridges) , the Ram River, Lynx Creek, and Cripple Creek (3 bridges). I go this way sometimes for the extra fishing. Last time I was there I drove in on the North Fork Road from Strachan and it was not in good shape. It may have been upgraded at some time but it gets a lot of people pulling trailers along it and is very potholed. I find the route through Nordegg to be a more comfortable drive. Barring any issues, I will be arriving Monday afternoon. I will have a sign made up that you will be able to see from both directions. Look for my grey 2018 Toyota Highlander (license PFN 857). If there is no room at the Nice & Easy site, I will find an alternative so just keep looking for the sign. See you all there next week! And don't forget to bring your barbecue recipe for Saturday evening! Jim
  14. Good morning everyone! I have been away from my planning for some time but now that July is here I am back at the planning for our 2019 summer gathering. Winter and spring were difficult at work this year but now that I've had a bit of a vacation, I am re-energized for our get-together. Just a reminder that we will be gathering on the North Ram River, at the location in red below. It is easy to find and I will put a sign up when I get there (likely on the afternoon of August 5). I will make a more visible sign this year. The site is very level with room for RVs large and small and lots of nice tenting places. When we were last there, we even had the use of an outhouse. I decided to forgo making pizza this year - it is too much work and extra cargo. We will still try for our normal Saturday night pot-luck. I will encourage everyone to consider the theme of "Barbecue" - bring something that typifies what that word means to you. Or not - there will be no enforcement. Bring your dry-fly gear, your bear spray (though we've seen more bulls than bears here) and be ready for a fantastic fishing get-together! Contact me if you have questions. Jim
  15. Tired of winter yet? I sure as heck am. While the sun is shining brilliantly outside, the mercury is hovering below -25C. It is time to start thinking about summer and fishing! The combined FF@/Northern Lights group has had great luck the past two years located on the Blackstone but I like variety. This year, we are going back to the North Ram River, just a short drive south from Nordegg. We will camp at a place I think is called Nice & Easy, located at 52.269793, -115.812253 according to Google Maps. We camped here when we last stayed on the North Ram in 2015. It is a great site, directly on the river with abundant space for a large group. There was even an outhouse, with a lovely view. The site is located about 10km east of the Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 40) on the North Fork Road. When we get closer to the time, I will supply easy to follow directions. The conclave will be held from August 5-11. The Ram River system holds abundant and sometimes spectacularly large Cutthroat Trout. Hiking is often required to get to the best spots but it is worth it! I want to try some South Ram fishing this year, as well as follow Tyzun one day to see if his stories are true. Other fishing opportunities include the upper North Saskatchewan River, the Blackstone River and Frenchman’s Creek. If you want to access this last bit of water, expect to supply Michael Dell with a really good bottle of scotch. Let me know if you are interested in coming out, or just show up. This year, I promise the sign will be more visible. Jim
  16. Flyfishing Conclave 2018 - Update and PotluckJust about a week away from our meeting on the Blackstone River. I hope everyone is still able to show up. I haven't heard any reports from the area but the weather has been fair throughout Alberta and we are not seeing the fires or other inclement events we have in previous years. Flows in nearby rivers seem normal or a bit high for this time of year. Higher-than-normal water may mean colder water and maybe even better fishing than last year. Should be a great time. Last year we made pizza for a social meal on night and I was thinking about that again this year. However, I am back in a tent this year with no way to keep dough frozen so I think we should go with a potluck. Saturday night, bring a dish that you love and want to share with others. Don't bring too much - most times we end up with way way too much food. Pot-luck drinks also welcome! Let me know if you have any other questions before next Monday. See you there!Jim
  17. Kos, bring whatever flies you have and people will help you out I am sure. Seriously, what I focus on (that you can get in a fly store) includes mostly attractor patterns like stimulators, foam hoppers, and other large floatable dry flies. Not too large, though the biggest fish I saw caught last year was on a monster foam hopper on a #6 4xl hook. We don't chase hatches so some standard caddis and mayfly patterns will also work. Snowshoe hare Usuals, purple parachute mayflies (#12) and cdc & elk are some of my go-to patterns when things are difficult. You may want to bring a few streamers to go after bull trout but they came well to dry flies last year. Bring your tying stuff too, if you can. There will be some master tyers there, ready to give you tips. Jim
  18. Well we are about a month away from our 2018 edition of the Alberta Conclave from August 7 to August 12. As a reminder, we are meeting in the same location as last year on the Blackstone River, just north of Nordegg Alberta. To drive, go about 1 km west of the access road to Nordegg to get to The Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 40/734). Go north to Chungo Road - a major road peeling off to the left. Drive up Chungo Road until you cross the Blackstone (it will be the first decent-sized river you cross) and up the hill. We should be camped on the left side of the road but this random camping can't be reserved. Therefore, if you do not see a sign that says FF@/NLFF Alberta Conclave, look on the other side of the road. Google Maps says it is here: 52.615902, -116.327583 I have not really thought about a potluck yet but I'll mull it over and propose something in the next week or so. Maybe pizza again... Hope to see you all there! Jim
  19. It seems like everyone loved last summer's Blackstone gathering so much, they want to try again. Once again, the FF@/Former FF@/NLFT/Whomever shows up will gather on the Blackstone River the week after the August long weekend - August 7-12. The Blackstone is a beautiful central Alberta stream with cutthroat, rainbow, brookies and bulls. Last year we caught a surprising number of bulls, possibly because of a hot summer and low water - they start heading upstream towards spawning grounds months before the event. In addition, there are lots of other waters that can be accessed a short drive up or down the road. Overall, this was an excellent location for fishing last year and I expect this year to be great as well. As a theme, a picture Alberta Al posted on facebook a few weeks back makes me think about hats. Bring your best fishing hat - be it weird, wild or just plain lucky. If it is a beret, you and Al will match! Last year, we had a very large group come out and everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I hope that some of you come back and others, who haven't traveled to an Alberta gathering may make this your year. Let me know if you are interested or need any more information. An make your travel plans soon! Jim
  20. So I am not much of a conclave report writer, nor picture taker. However, from the organizer's standpoint this was one of the most successful claves we have ever had. A world-circling crowd showed up, lots of new friendships got started and lots of old friendships got renewed. Nobody seems to have divorced anyone, though I know several people who will chip in to get a "snoring tent" for one participant should he choose to come again. The weather was wonderful and the fish were willing. How could it have been better? A set of pictures of both action and people can be found at Wally's site here: https://flywing.smugmug.com/FamilyandFriends/Fishing/AlbertaKlaveBlackstone-2017/ What makes a clave for me is the people. This year was great because of the people who came, and those we took time to remember. We can't have provided a more fitting event to remember Dell, Paul, Dave, Tom, Jim and all the other friends we have lost over the years. I would like to say a great big thank you to everyone who came out. You are the event and you made it wonderful. Also thank you to those who tried to come and were prevented by immigration law, work realities, and superb fishing elsewhere. I hope we get to see you next year. Jim Fox
  21. OK, so one last note from me before heading up to the river. It looks like we will have a good turnout, though a couple old friends will be missing. If decides they are interested, by all means head out. We will sort out a place for you to sleep, a meal to keep you sustained and a drink to keep you warm. Bring your own sleeping bag because there are limits... The weather seems promising with only a bit of cloud and precipitation forecast. One night we will be doing pizza so feel free to bring a topping of your choice. Wally and I will bring crusts and sauce and a cooking method. It is refined from last year so we will be faster. On Saturday, we typically have a potluck. Bring something share-able but not too much. There is often enough to feed twice the number who show up. Finally, take care in travelling up. Southern Alberta is tinder dry right now and there are fire bans and OHV restrictions all over. Things are a bit better in central Alberta but there is always a chance that it will change. I will watch emails until Tuesday so feel free to shoot me a line here if you need to catch up. My cell is 403-471-3108 if you need to talk directly. See you there! Jim
  22. This is a cool series Dan!
  23. We are just over 2 weeks away from the conclave. We have people planning to attend from around the world so it should be a fantastic time. This is going to be a bit bigger event than I though but we will still keep it in the style that everyone knows and loves. Fires will be visible from space (as long as we are allowed fires) and we will ensure a significant acreage of tarps is available in case it rains. This year we are trying to have a class affair so there will be a tweed dress-code (meaning wear it if you have it). There may be a prize for the best tweed outfit. Saturday is traditionally pot-luck so plan on something to share. I will also bring my pizza oven so one night we can bake pies. I'll bring fixings too but if you have a favorite topping, bring it along. Just to recap: Alberta Conclave Date: August 8-13Location: Blackstone River, where it is crossed by Chungo Road. This is about 15km north of Nordegg, AB. Google Maps coordinates are 52.615902, -116.327583. Let me know if you need directions.I will be there on the afternoon of 8 August. Normally, Wally Lutz gets there first (being retired and all) so look for his camper on the west side of the road. When I get there, I will put up a sign. Let me know if you need any info, directions, or whatever. Looking forward to seeing those who have confirmed. Everyone else, feel free to just show up. Jim
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