There is an amazing brown trout stream that’s around a 2.5-hour drive southwest of Edmonton that rarely disappoints. Prairie Creek is one of those Alberta fly fishing streams that always seems to produce for us. Our favorite section to fish is referred to as “The Miracle Mile” and starts right by the Prairie Creek Inn just south of Rocky Mountain House.
From the moment we step out of the vehicle the excitement builds. As we’re paying attention to the bugs that are flying around, we’re putting our gear together piece by piece, anticipating the experience ahead. With a nice long look over the bank it often reveals some small fish rising in the slow-moving deep pool below the bridge. When no hatch is noticeable, we will typically start with an Elk Hair Caddis, Foam Hopper or a Stimulator. Often times we will attach a dropper such as our Beadhead Kaufman's Stone. As the browns at Prairie Creek seem to enjoy the dry flies more often than not, we rarely catch a fish on the dropper. Being a popular section of stream, we tend to go during the weekdays. On weekends it’s busier and there are almost always at least 3 other vehicles parked here. At times when we are by ourselves, we will tend to start upstream, work our way down and then fish our way back up. Once the first slow section is skipped, it seems that there is a pool around every bend and they almost always have fish.
The browns here can be very finicky but can also be convinced to rise by trying a few different techniques. One of the most effective is swinging a dry fly or a hopper. We will almost always start at the bottom of a run and work our way up making sure the line fully extends behind us at the end of every cast. A lot of the time the fish will hit as the fly moves across stream which gives it a bit of a life like appearance. Oddly not very often do the fish strike on a solid drift with the exception of one run in particular. The run has a lot of logs on the outside of it placed there by a landowner to protect from bank erosion. On that particular section cast as close to the logs as possible and try to drift the fly right along the logs to pull a brown out from underneath. Quite often the fish will also strike during the retrieval. After the line fully extends behind you make sure to hand retrieve a fair bit of it dragging it over the near bank in hopes of a rise. Just make sure to always swing the line completely straight behind you before recasting. When nothing else is working we like to tie on a Clouser Minnow and use a technique we learned while fishing for steelhead on Vancouver Island, swinging heavy flies. For this one, cast all the way across the stream to the opposite bank at a 45-degree angle upstream and let the fly sink, swing and fully extend behind you, then take a step upstream and try again. In order to change the depth of the fly, change the angle of the upstream cast. Cast further up to get the fly deeper and more straight across for a shallower swing. The browns at Prairie Creek generally only rise once, so when we miss a strike on our way downstream, we will make a note of the location and try again on our way back up stream. Often times the fish will rise again on the way back.
Prairie Creek is a dry fly stream that will often produce double digit numbers and usually one fish in the 18 to 20-inch range every time we go out. For these reasons Prairie Creek will always remain one of our favourite Canadian fly fishing streams.