Jim and Lynda McLennan
McLennan Fly Fishing
Jim has been active as an outdoor writer for over
40 years. He is the author of four books on
fly fishing and frequently contributes to
numerous outdoor magazines, including
Gray's Sporting Journal
Pheasants Forever Journal
Pointing Dog Journal,
The Alberta Fishing Guide and more.
Living and Writing the Outdoor Life
A Writing Weekend with Jim McLennan
A Weekend Writing Retreat August 20 - 22
Not: This event has been canceled. Jim is preparing a six-session Zoom writing course that will take place in November. Watch for more info.
A weekend in the Crowsnest Pass, dedicated to writing about the outdoors.
Join Jim McLennan for a full-on weekend, talking about and thinking about writing.
This event was a success last summer so we're offering it again. Jim will lead the discussion
and instruction, and encourages anyone
who wishes to begin writing or to improve
their writing to join him.
Current Books Available
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Trout Streams of Alberta
Jim's best-selling book and a Canadian best seller, Trout Streams of Alberta is a winner of the
Andy Russell Nature Writing Award. The book was out
of print for a number of years, but is now available again in a revised, updated edition.
Contains information on Alberta trout species,
trout habitat and requirements and fly patterns. There is a chapter on each watershed in Alberta, highlighting the history, fish, fishing methods, and access. Includes colour photos and a hatch chart for each watershed.
Cost: $26.00 Can. (including gst)
Thirty Years of Fly-Fishing Insight
Water Marks is a collection Jim's best writing between 1981 and 2006. Drawn from his magazine work
in that period, there are essays on the
Where, Why, How, and Who of fly fishing.
Filled with colour photographs by
Jim and Lynda McLennan
Cost: $26.00 Can. (including gst)
Fly Fishing Western Trout Streams Now available as e-book
Jim's book dealing with the types of fish, rivers, hatches and methods that are essential for fly fishing the rivers and streams of western North America in both the U.S. and Canada. It deals with freestone streams, tailwaters and spring creeks. There are hatch charts, fly photographs and discussions of essential tackle.
The print version has been unavailable for some time, but you can now get an electronic version. Visit your favourite source of e-books to get your copy.
For more information, send Jim an email.
Out of Print Books
Two other of Jim's books, Blue Ribbon Bow (Lone Pine, 1987) and
Fly Fishing Western Trout Streams (Stackpole 2003) are currently out of print.
You might find copies online, at used bookstores or at your nearest library.
Articles and Stories by Jim McLennan
By Jim McLennan
“The fishing was fine, but the catching was a little slow.” How many times have you heard that old saw after asking someone how the fishing’s been? While the answer may be both clever and accurate, it’s amazing how many people actually expect a day on the water to have little in the way of “catching.” But it doesn’t have to be that way—finding success is often as simple as knowing what it is you’re not doing. Here are five of the most common sins of omission.
1. NOT treating fish as wild animals
From a fish’s perspective, you are the predator and it is the prey. And since fear always trumps hunger, a fish will consider it a life-threatening situation if you suddenly appear on the scene. This explains the one rule of angling that can never be broken: If you scare fish, you won’t catch fish. So, don’t barge into their world with noise and commotion. Instead, approach the water slowly and quietly, doing everything you can to avoid alerting the fish to your presence. On moving water, this might mean approaching from downstream to stay behind the fish, out of their sight. On still water, it often means shutting off the motor early and rowing or paddling quietly into position before casting.
2. NOT using the proper presentation
Many anglers just grab a lure or fly that appeals to them, or one that worked the last time they were out, and start randomly firing it into the water. This is what makes fishing a hope-for-the-best proposition for so many people. But you can vastly improve your chances for success by first gathering some general information about your quarry’s habits and habitat, and supplementing it with specifics on what the fish are likely to be feeding on when you’’re on the water. By consulting magazines, books, DVDs, friends, fishing shops and the Internet, you can then make an informed decision about what fly to use, and where to use it.
3. NOT fishing deep enough
If the fish are feeding on the surface, you’ll know it by the disturbances they make. But if they’re not up top, it’s a safe bet they’re on the bottom. A general rule in fishing is to make it easy for the fish to eat what you’re offering, so if the fish are deep, do what you must to get your fly down into their dining room. You may need to use a heavier fly or add weight to your leader. Whatever the case, you’ll have far more success putting your offering right in front of the fish rather than expecting them to swim up through the water column to take it.
4. NOT paying attention to conditions
Water levels and clarity play a large role in determining where fish will be found and when they will feed. And because fish are cold-blooded, water temperature is the one factor that trumps nearly all others—fish feed very little if the water temperature is significantly above or below their happy zone. The weather also affects the behaviour of fish, as well as their prey. For example, certain aquatic creatures that trout eat are more active and available on cloudy days than on sunny ones. Remember, though, that weather and water conditions affect different species of fish in different ways, and a little research into this will pay dividends.
5. NOT switching things up
The worst thing an angler can do is stay in one spot for hours and repeat a method that’s ineffective. If what you’re doing isn’t working, change something. Try switching flies, or varying your retrieve or the depth you’re fishing at. You can even change your tactics altogether and move to a different part of the lake or stream. If the fish are going to respond to what you’re offering they’ll usually do so within your first few casts, or not at all. Long-term repetition rarely changes their minds. Trying something new, however, just might.
Illustration by Lynda McLennan