By NEIL WAUGH
Passive-aggressive personality disorder – when taken to its outer limits – manifests the worst kind of human behavior.
Including “negativity, sullenness, resentment, procrastination and intentional inefficiency.”
And if allowed to fester can lead to “actual dishonesty and back-stabbing saboteurs.”
All the while maintaining a sunny smile and a positive, agreeable attitude. At least on the outside.
Much like the North Raven River.
The contrary personality of Alberta’s best and most-famous spring creek southeast of Caroline, as expected, features large in our fly fishing literature.
Longview angling writer Jim McLennan, in his breakthrough book Trout Streams of Alberta, describes the North Raven as “hell with mayflies.
“Though the creek looks innocent enough when you glance at it from your car at the bridge,” McLennan wrote, “don’t be fooled.
“Beneath that bright bubbly smile lurks a cruel, unforgiving heart.”
The late Barry Mitchell, in his epic Alberta’s Trout Highway, goes one riffle further.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a tough piece of trout water,” Mitchell admitted.
“But if you’re persistent and don’t mind thick willows, bottomless silt, innumerable beaver runs, and persnickety trout,” he added, “there’s no creek remotely like it anywhere.”
Even more important in a year when spring was on indefinite hold, “the North Raven is often a haven when every other stream in the province is high and dirty,” Barry noted.
So I made my second trip in a couple of weeks to the North Raven.
But not before visiting Alberta Environment and Parks’ river basins app – where stream flows on numerous Alberta trout and grayling creeks are displayed in real time – to get a feel for the state of the fishery.
Only to discover that most waters within day-trip distance of my Jeep were either blown-out and brown with run-off.
Or closed to angling while the spring-spawning species do their procreation thing.
The one exception being the North Raven River.
Like the gambler said when told that the card game he was in was rigged and he was about to get cleaned out.
“Ya, I know,” he answered. “But it’s the only game in town.”
On the drive down the aspens were frosted with catkins but on the shady side of the hedgerows remnant snow drifts still persisted.
At the bridge that McLennan wrote about the North Raven’s passive-aggressive personality was on display.
The creek was at summer flow level and with the exception of a tea-stained tint, eminently fishable.
I was not alone in that assessment. Fishing trucks were parked at all the access points.
And when my fox red Lab Penny and I inspected the surface a small dark stonefly was hatching.
More importantly, so was a larger version, that anglers call a Skwala.
This could get interesting.
But by the time I wadered up and found a cache of black Stimulators in a flybox, the bigger bugs had mysteriously disappeared.
Still, there might be an “echo” hatch – where the brown and brook trout conditioned to these large morsels – continue feeding on the artificials even though the naturals have stopped.
So I walked in beyond the big beaver dam and began running the Stimulator down the foam lines and along the under cuts.
Through the willow jungles, serious silt beds and knee-wrenching beaver runs that Barry and Jim wrote about, while a ruffed grouse cock somewhere back in the poplars drummed.
The river was running at chilly 10 C and other than a solitary rise in a corner pool slack, I never saw a trout.
At one point another angler emerged from the willows to say he’d caught a few on nymphs.
I switched to Lloyd Shea’s legendary Stauffer Special (the North Raven’s alternate name) under a low-impact yarn strike indicator.
Which the browns and brookies also ignored.
Back at the truck, while the dog ate and a Wilson snipe boomed overhead, I chug-a-lugged a jar of sport drink to ward off leg cramps.
Knowing that Alberta’s passive-aggressive trout stream had whipped me again.
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