St. Mary Angler

St. Mary Angler Professional guiding service in Southeastern British Columbia, specializing in dry-fly fishing for wild Westslope Cutthroat. Since 1992 the St.

Mary Angler has been introducing fly-fishing enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to the pristine waters of Southeastern British Columbia. We provide guided trips on the St. Mary, Elk, Bull, Skookumchuck, Kootenay, and upper Columbia Rivers, and feel truly privileged to refer to these tremendous fisheries as our "home" waters.

Temporarily closed

Kelly and I did get to fish a few times this summer on our Sunday's off!!Lot's if good memories!!Flyfishing in the East ...
09/13/2021

Kelly and I did get to fish a few times this summer on our Sunday's off!!
Lot's if good memories!!
Flyfishing in the East Kootenay's - what a beautiful place to be!!!

09/06/2021

Report #13 (August 31, 2021)

The water has cooled down, but the fishing has picked up!

The water temperature in the St. Mary River has now cooled right down as the weather has cooled off. The mornings are now quite brisk starting off at around 8°C (47°F), building to a high of 24°C (75°F) in the late afternoons. So, the recent lifting of the time closures on the rivers on August 26th was appropriate and welcomed.

In addition to the recent cooling trend in the Kootenays, we have had rain on and off. These factors have really helped suppress the wild fires and cool our streams. So, we are happy the weather is back to what it is normally like for this time of year.

Our floats are also back to their regular start times as we pick up clients and get out on the water by 9:30 a.m.

Today our destination was the Canyon section on the St. Mary River – from Wycliffe down to Sophie's takeout near the Mission.

The flow in the St.Mary has risen about a foot after the recent rain and the fish are more active and maybe even happier as well!

The approach today had the anglers fishing along the bank edges, behind rocks and beside log jams in an effort to pull up some hungry trout. It was like these fish had not seen a fly in a long time!

During the float the anglers landed 20 cutthroat each, ranging from 12 to 16 inches in length. They also landed a number of cut-bows at around 17 inches. One hybrid was 19 inches, healthy and strong. It jumped many times before it was landed and released.

The flies that worked best today included the Chubby Chernobyl, Fat Albert, Stimy Chew Toy, caddis patterns and Parachute Adams. Like we always say, you need a variety of flies to cycle through when you are out on the water. One day a fly is “lights out” and the next day it’s another, so you have to be prepared to cycle through your fly box.

On the float today, the guys came across a lot of wildlife. This included deer along the bank edges and a good-sized group of turkeys down closer to the take-out near the St. Eugene Mission. The turkeys were grazing heavily on the abundant grasshoppers along the banks, happy as clams! This was in addition to a wide variety of birds, from raptors to songbirds.

This is the time of year we start to see bears moving along the rivers. The kokanee are now starting to move up into the streams to commence spawning. The bears will be gorging themselves on the kokanee in preparation for their time in hibernation this winter.

The clients really enjoyed the scenery, as well as the fishing today. The River at this time of year is spectacular as the leaves turn colour and the whole mood of the River changes.

We have had many clients from the U.S. making their way up here to fish in the last few weeks. It is nice to see some normalcy again. Let’s hope the 4th wave of Covid does not knock us back to square one!

If you are in the Cranbrook area, please stop by the fly shop. You can find out how each river is fishing, what fly patterns are working and peruse all the flies and accessories to make your fishing experience a success.

Get out and enjoy the fall fishing as the weather is awesome and the fish are biting!

Tight Lines,

Kelly and Karen

St.Mary Angler

Ps Call us at 1-800-667-2311 to book a fall trip on the Columbia River!

08/25/2021

As of August 26th the hoot owl hours (time of day closures) are lifted!! With the cooler weather and increased steam flow the government has rescinded time closures on all streams including the St Mary River, Michel Creek, Sand Creek, Goat River etc
This regulation will soon be reflected on their in season change website.
Get out and fish---enjoy the fall weather!!

08/24/2021

Report #11 (August 11, 2021)

The Bull River has it all!

Today the smoke moved into the low-lying areas around Cranbrook and Kimberley. So, we decided to go towards the mountains to float the Bull River. This turned out to be a wise move as the skies were much clearer near the mountains.

The day started early as we headed up to fish on this scenic little river! The temperature in the morning started off at 10°C (50°F) and it warmed up nicely to around 28°C (82°F) in the late afternoon.

As we drove toward the put-in we spooked a mother whitetail deer and her 2 fauns. They ran down the road in front of us then deked into the bush. And then just before our destination, another whitetail and set of fawns popped out of the bush and ran down the road again. It’s so cool to see all this new life around us!

This trip was dry fly setups only. As soon as we hit the water we started to cast along the bank edges and behind the boulders. The Bull River runs pretty fast and has a lot of rocks to maneuver around, so the guides have to be on the oars all the time! When a fish is hooked on this River, the guide has to find a spot to pull over and drop an anchor so the angler can land the fish. So there is always lots of action on these floats.

Today the cutthroat trout were up and feeding aggressively. In terms of flies, the trout were mostly drawn to foam patterns such as; Fat Alberts Hoppers and Chernobyl Ants of different colors. They also hit the H&L Variants, Sparkle Caddis, Purple Haze, Parachute Adams and Stimulators - in Orange or Yellow.

During the float the anglers caught and released around 20 fish each, mostly in the 12 to 15-inch slot. That said, they did land a few cuts in the 16 to17 range. All the cutthroat trout were healthy and vibrantly coloured and fought well.

The Bull River is in such a beautiful setting. It flows down from the mountains, through a canyon and eventually meets up with the Kootenay River. It is absolutely gorgeous country, pure eye candy.

Bringing anglers up into this area always has an element of true adventure for everyone. Some of our clients love this River so much, they fish it every time they visit us.

The wildlife is abundant up on the Bull, from the deer and bears to the birds. Coupled with the scenery and fishing it creates a true wilderness adventure.

Just a reminder that if you are heading out to fish in this amazing part of the back country, be sure to know the regulations before you go.

If you would like to know what flies are working on the rivers in our area before you head out, visit us in the fly shop before you go and we will help you out.

We have been seeing some of our American clients now as they can cross the border. As long as they have both Covid-19 vaccine shots and a negative Covid-test before crossing, they are welcome into Canada. They are happy to come to British Columbia and we are very happy to see them!

August is moving right along now so get out into the backcountry and fish.

Tight Lines,

Kelly and Karen

St.Mary Angler

Ps drop into the fly shop, or call us at 1-800-667-2311 to book a trip today!

Report #10 (August 8, 2021)Elk River Report; what guides do on their day off.We have been waiting and waiting and finall...
08/11/2021
COVID-19: Travel, testing, quarantine and borders - Travel.gc.ca

Report #10 (August 8, 2021)

Elk River Report; what guides do on their day off.

We have been waiting and waiting and finally we got rain yesterday and today! It’s exactly what we need, a couple of days of constant rain!

Our destination today was the Elk River. The temperature in the morning was a cool 13°C (55°F) and warming up to a balmy 18°C (65°F) by the afternoon…what a change.

Today was our annual “busman’s holiday” to the Elk River. As Karen and I were working in the morning, we did not get onto the Elk until just after lunch. Our plan was to dump the raft over the bank and float down to the Morrissey takeout. As soon as we started the float, the rain began! And, oh how we really wanted that rain!

On the float we changed flies multiple times in search of a dry that that would produce more than a couple of fish. This went on throughout the day. As floating and drifting the fly was not working early on, we stopped and fished the runs. This is what we did to fool the fish at the beginning of our float…

The foam patterns were working best including the; Chubby Chernobyl, Fat Albert, Purple Haze, Stimy Chew Toy, as well as the smaller patterns like the Swisher Caddis, Adams and ants/beetles.

Like I said, we needed to cycle through the fly box to find what they liked, and believe me it changed all afternoon. So once again, it was to our advantage to have a wide selection of flies to draw from.

Later in the afternoon, we came around a bend in the Elk to see a bald eagle swooping down over a run on the River. So, we took its que and thought this would be a good section to work for a while. The rain was coming down harder now, but the fish were still up and feeding! When we presented the fly properly, getting a good drift, we could actually see the lips of the fish come up, break the water surface and take the fly! When we dragged and dropped the fly as we floated, some of the fish would jump out of the water to take it. What fun! As we continued down the Elk through each run the fish began taking the fly more and more aggressively!

By late in afternoon the fish were up feeding on midges, Blue Winged Olives and Pale Morning Duns, so there was plenty of bug action. On the afternoon, we caught and released around 20 cutthroat each. The average size was 13 to 15 inches and we released a couple in the 16 to 17 range! All the cutthroat were very healthy and aggressive.

What a fun day on our annual busman’s holiday to the Elk! Life in this business can be rewarding!

As for the reopening of the Canada/U.S. border, we received our first Americans in the fly shop. It was great to see their faces!
As long as Americans have all their paper work showing both Covid-19 shots, and a negative Covid test in the 72 hour window before arriving in Canada, they are good to get in. Click hear for more details… https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid?utm_campaign=hc-sc-phm-21-22&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=ggl&utm_content=ad-text-en&utm_term=covid%2019%20travel%20restrictions%20canada&adv=2122-0008&id_campaign=12663296824&id_source=122009186524&id_content=529268567240&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6s2IBhCnARIsAP8RfAgReoxlYcXpah22CTh2nCnNsVVE3lZLbntBx1Fb6j7xG8hH8tJNPAcaAhe4EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

It is wonderful to see the Pandemic starting to come to an end…what a crazy year we have had! Let’s hope we learn something from it all!

If you do plan on coming up from the U.S. to fish with us, we are waiting to welcome you!

Take care and tight Lines,

Kelly and Karen

St.Mary Angler

Ps call us at 1-800-667-2311 to book a trip, or discuss your fishing options with us.

Travelling to, from and within Canada, immigration, passports, transportation regulations and the movement of goods.

A day on the Elk and day on the Mary's awesome father daughter day outings  -- love it!!😀👍
08/07/2021

A day on the Elk and day on the Mary's awesome father daughter day outings -- love it!!😀👍

If you lost a fly rod on the Bull River it is here at the Fly Shop Just tell us the make of the rod  and what weight👍
07/26/2021

If you lost a fly rod on the Bull River it is here at the Fly Shop Just tell us the make of the rod and what weight👍

If you lost a fly rod on the Bull River it is here at the Fly Shop Just tell us the make of the rod and what weight👍

Report #8 (July 19, 2021)The Border is Reopening Soon… and the Fishing is Fine!Well, as everyone has likely heard the Ca...
07/23/2021
Government of Canada announces easing of border measures for fully vaccinated travellers - Canada.ca

Report #8 (July 19, 2021)

The Border is Reopening Soon… and the Fishing is Fine!

Well, as everyone has likely heard the Canada/U.S. border will be reopening to American anglers on August 9th, 2021.

Wow, can you believe it? The Border is reopening and there is still enough time for Americans to come summer holiday in B.C.!

The timing is right as the fishing has been quite good this past week and it will only get better as we move forward.

The weather has also been pretty good with daily temperatures starting out at 16°C (61°F) and reaching the low 30’s°C (86°F) by mid afternoon.

The smoke from fires from around the Province, Montana and Washington State is travelling in and out of our area. One day it is clear blue skies and the next smoky. We just need some rain!

Now that the summer heat has arrived, we are starting our float trips earlier in the day. The early start is cooler for us and finishing by 4.00 in the afternoon is easier on the fish. We are also focused on reeling in and releasing fish quickly to reduce their stress.

Today we floated the Elk River down to the Morrissey Bridge. The Elk is shaping up nicely, dropping and clearing every day. The anglers only used dry flies today in an effort to entice the cutthroats to the surface.

The fishing started with a bang as a cutthroat grabbed a foam fly and took off with it! After that the fishing was steady. A couple cutthroats took the fly right along a log jam and almost got off. The angler managed to lay the rod low and pull the fish around the structure to save his fly and land the fish… nice work!

The average sized cutthroat landed on the Elk today was a little smaller than usual, between 11 and 14 inches. That said, they did catch a few nice fish up to 16. The cuts provided to be a lot of fun throughout the day as the anglers landed around 15 fish each.

It was a day that required a lot of switching up of different patterns to find the one that would work for a while. Getting the right fly is important, but making sure the fly floats naturally with zero drag is also critical to fooling the cuts of the Elk on the surface. The best producing flies included; Fat Alberts, Purple Haze, Chernobyl Ants, Stimulators and Sparkle Caddis.

There was a lot of active bird life on the Elk today. The most noteworthy were the ospreys and eagles hovering around their nests of chicks! Nice to see.

The rivers in our area are all in great shape now. When coming to the Cranbrook area, drop into the fly shop and check out our extensive assortment of flies. We have everything you need for your dry fly adventure!

July is almost done so get out there and enjoy the backcountry and stay fire safe.

And to our American anglers…see you soon, for real this time!
Tight Lines

Kelly and Karen

Ps call us at 1-800-667-2311 about booking a float trip this summer and into the fall.

For more information on the Canadian border reopening go to:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/07/government-of-canada-announces-easing-of-border-measures-for-fully-vaccinated-travellers.html

The Government of Canada is prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in Canada by taking a risk-based and measured approach to re-opening our borders. On September 7, 2021, provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable, the Government intends to open Canada’s borders ...

07/13/2021

Report #7 (July 6, 2021)

St.Mary River Report; lots of cutthroat trout are being caught on the dry!

It’s the first week of July and the rivers are shaping up nicely. The St.Mary River has been dropping daily and has completely cleared up. The Elk is also dropping and clearing up steadily, as are the Bull and Skookcumchuck rivers. Things are rounding into form.

Presently we are focused on the St Mary River, guiding it daily with our eager clients!

The guides are still running two sections of the Mary on each float, as the flow is still moving along fairly quickly. Today the guys floated from Wycliffe down to the confluence with the Kootenay River.

The temperatures started out elevated at 25°C (77°F) and reached a high of 35°C (95°F) by mid-afternoon. The skies were blue and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Thunderclouds formed in the afternoon and by later in the evening a storm had cruised through. It’s very warm for this time of year!

The anglers dry fly fished all day with their 4 and 5 weight rods setup with dry lines and 9-foot leaders. During the day they hooked into many wild Westslope Cutthroats, as well as a few cut-bows. The cut-bows always jump like crazy no matter their size. So, if you hook one of these fish on the surface it is a great rush! They averaged 20 fish apiece with the average size in the 13 to 15 inch class.

Fishing big terrestrial patterns at this time of year is so much fun. You cast upstream, mend the line so you have no drag on the fly, then give it a pop on the surface to look like it is jumping around. The cutthroats can't refuse these bugs as they look so realistic… just like a stone fly!!

The anglers used a wide variety of flies including; Stimi Chew Toys, Foam Patterns, Chernobyl Ants, Fat Alberts (in red, black or tan), Purple Haze, Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Caddis patterns.

The guys spent most of their time fishing the runs, behind rocks and along the bank edges. At the lunch spot the guys needed to cool down so they jumped in the water for a swim, and that did the trick. You definitely need to hydrate and cool yourself down in this weather.

The wildlife along the St.Mary River is abundant now with deer and their fawns roaming the bank edges and lots of bird life. The ospreys are now busy in their nests with their chicks and seem to pick the best fishing holes as their territory.

We are already cruising into summer so make sure to get out and fish and enjoy the backcountry as much as possible.

Before you head out to fish your favourite stream in our corner of B.C., drop into our flyshop in Cranbrook to check out the latest products. Also, be sure to ask what is working on the various rivers and streams as we have a lot of knowledge to go along with a wide selection of flies to improve your chances of success.
As for our American clients, we miss you and hopefully the borders will open soon. We should hear more on July 21 when the current regulations are revisited. We are still in Stage 3 of the B.C. reopening plan and we will let you know right away if anything changes.

See you on the water soon.

Tight lines,

Kelly and Karen

PS Stay cool!

Address

401 Cranbrook Street N
Cranbrook, BC
V1C 3R5

Opening Hours

Monday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Thursday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Sunday 8:30am - 12pm

Telephone

18006672311

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Bugs! Same bug, doing its thing from emerging to flying away. What should I use???? Whiteswan Saturday.
St.Mary Angler Guide Service: a review of the 2019 fishing season. Overview of the Conditions. Last winter brought us a snowpack that was lower than usual. On May 1st the snowpack was 79% of ‘normal’ across B.C., a major reversal from what we saw in 2017 and 18. As of May 1st the snowpack in the East Kootenay region, which includes the St.Mary, Elk, Bull and Skookumchuck rivers, was at 70%, way less than 2018. Over in the West Kootenays, where we fish the upper Columbia River, it was 89%, again, a far cry from the 180% received in 2018! Read the rest of the 2019 review at ....
Report #19 (October 14th, 2019) The Columbia River Continues to Fish Very Well into the Fall We are deep into fall now on the Columbia River. The days are getting shorter and the weather is now much cooler. We are experiencing some sunny days, but rain in the valley and snow up in the mountains are pretty well the norm for this time of year. Today we decided to fish the lowest section of our portion of the Columbia River as we put the boat in at Beaver Creek just upstream from the International border. The Beaver Creek boat launch closes after Canadian Thanksgiving so we are lucky to get one more float down on the lower end this season. On this day the weather was absolutely gorgeous with the temperature starting around 9°C (48°F) warming up to a comfortable 14°C (57°F) in the afternoon. There was no wind or rain and at times we had to take our jackets off because it got too warm…. I just love these kind of October days. The fish were active early on today as we caught trout right from the start. We had lots of success using both our nymph rods, as well as using streamers. There are many trout now camped out in the shallows along the shoreline. So if you can get a good cast into this area as the boat drifts downstream from say 30 to 40 feet, you have a chance to hook into one of these big rainbows. At this time of year the fish have fed all summer long on caddis et al, and they are very healthy, strong and chunky. The Columbia is a massive system that makes for big powerful rainbows. The flow in the Columbia has dropped in this last few weeks, typical for this time of year. This has caused a change in the River hydrology, forcing the fish to move along the bank edges to feed. Today the two anglers caught 20 nice rainbows between them. The average size was between 18 and 21 inches. The fish were very aggressive when they hooked up and jumped out of the water many times. One 21-inch rainbow almost jumped into the boat at one point, it was crazy, but a lot of fun. When you hook into these fish, you definitely have to let the fish run and take line because if you don't, they can bust you off and be gone in a flash of silver. We broke up the day with a nice shore lunch on the River, then fished from shore for a while before we headed back out to fish in different spots through the afternoon. On the River today we saw some Caddis hatching, as well as a few Blue Winged Olives and some big October Caddis. The nymph patterns used included the Purple Prince, regular Prince, Copper Johns and Hare’s Ear, and for streamers we used Kelly's Super Streamer, Pat's Rubber Leg and sculpin patterns. We saw a few other fishers out on the Columbia on this glorious fall day, which was nice to see. We have a few more days guiding left on the Columbia River this month then our season we will wrap up. So we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who fished with us this year for your patronage and making 2019 a successful season. All the best, Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler PS keep in touch with us through stmaryangler.com and facebook to find out which tradeshows we will be attending this winter and available spaces on our annual Christmas Island trip.
Report #18 (September 30th, 2019) The temperature is cool, but the fishing is hot on the Columbia River! We have had a cool autumn this year with the temperatures dropping last week and continuing to stay low across the southeastern corner of B.C. We have also seen quite a bit of snow accumulating on the mountain tops making for some striking views when the sun shines, just beautiful! The mornings are starting out at around 3 to 4°C (37-39°F), reaching highs of 12 to 14°C (55-57°F), with the sunshine. On this day the guys decided to float the top section of the Columbia from the Robson boat launch, downstream. We hit the water at around 10-10:30 a.m., after things had a chance to warm up a bit, and stayed out on the River until 6 p.m. Shortly after launching the jet boat we cruised downriver in search of some promising water. We went quite a way down, scouting out certain eddies and runs, before powering back up to the most promising sites. The Columbia River is such a big piece of water that it can be overwhelming. So you have to break it down into smaller chunks to make it digestible and easier to fish. We had all the fly rods set up with different lines in advance so we were ready to go with streamers, nymphs or dry flies. So whatever presented itself, we were ready to respond. This way the guide can choose whatever fly rod he thinks the clients should fish depending on the conditions. Spey rods are also in the mix should the anglers bring them along as the current conditions are perfect for fishing from the shore now. Throughout the day, small Blue Winged Olives were hatching in addition to October Caddis and small midges. In response, the guys used Blue Winged Olives and October Caddis as their dry fly patterns. In terms of the nymph patterns they used Copper Johns, Purple Prince, regular Prince, Lightning Bugs and stone fly nymphs. The streamers included the Pickle, Kelly's Super Streamer and a few different types of big white and black streamers. The anglers did very well throughout the day, even when it was cooler in the morning, as the fish were on and biting. Between the two of them they landed 30 rainbows. They average size was 18 to 21 inches with a few in the 22-23 inch slot being landed. These rainbows are very brightly coloured, are thick and powerful now. They are feeding aggressively as temperatures have dropped and they are keen to bulk up for winter. During the float we saw bald eagles and ospreys above, as well as groups of turkeys feeding along the shoreline. We were also treated to seeing a group of mountain goats up on the hillside earlier on in the morning. As long as the weather holds and the temperatures are not too cold, we will be guiding on the Columbia River. The weather service is calling for some warmer seasonal temperatures next week so we will be out on the River enjoying this incredible piece of water for the rest of October. Tight Lines, Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler
Report #17 (September 20th, 2019) Fall is here so we are off to the Columbia River to chase the big rainbows! As we head towards the end of September we are nearing the end of another successful season of fishing the rivers of the East Kootenays. While we still have some trips scheduled for the Elk and St.Mary rivers, the coming of fall signals that it is time to head over to the Columbia River to fish for big rainbow trout. We fish the stretch of the Columbia from the confluence with the Kootenay River down to where it crosses the U.S. border. We will be on the Columbia from now until late October, weather permitting. On this trip to the Columbia we decided to focus on the section between the settlement of Genelle down to the City of Trail. After having a great breakfast at Gabriel's at the Prestige Hotel in Rossland, we headed downhill into the valley to fish the Big River. The weather was typical for a mid-September day in the West Kootenay; cool in the morning with high cloud. As the day progressed, the sun made a couple appearances mixed in with some rain, yep a normal fall day. Just remember to dress in layers and always bring a rain jacket, waders and boots and you will be fine. The temperature today started off at 8 to 10°C (46-50°F) and warmed up to a high of 16 to 18°C (61-64°F). The flow of the Columbia River now is around 42,000 cubic feet per second (1,170 CMS), normal for this time of year. With these lower fall flows, a lot more shoreline is exposed so fishing along the bank edges becomes a lot more accessible. That said, there are still a lot of fish holding and feeding in the big back eddies. After launching the jet boat we cruised downriver on the lookout for favourable bank structures and nice eddies to fish. We like to enter the eddies from the top, cutting the engine upstream and rowing silently into the eddy so we do not disturb the holding and feeding rainbows. The Columbia River rainbows are easily spooked, so we always want to be quiet as we approach them in their runs and eddies. The Columbia is described as an ‘intermediate’ fly fisher’s river. You want to be able to cast at least 30 to 40 feet out and away from the boat. An ability to cast out and to a specific point on the water will increase your chance of hooking up on one of these beautiful trout. Today, as we floated along the bank edges, we threw streamers and nymphs close to the shoreline. When in the back eddies we tried some nymphing and tossed streamers. The fishing was quite good in the morning as the guys landed 10 fish each. Unfortunately, a storm rolled in around 1 p.m. and the wind and rain really picked up! At this point the fish just hunkered down and were very tough to catch. The guys worked quite hard for a couple of more hours, landing a few more rainbows. Fortunately, as the weather cleared up the fishing picked up again and the clients landed a few more fish before calling it a day. On this trip, the anglers landed between 15 to 20 rainbows each. A really nice outing. In terms of hatches, we saw some October Caddis and Blue Winged Olives coming off the water. Sometimes when a hatch is coming off we will switch to a dry fly setup and have the anglers cast for the fish as they are rising to the surface. There is definitely a fall feeling in the air now. With the leaves changing colour and a dusting of snow on the mountains, it is time to get out and fish now…. before the season is over! Have fun and stay safe on the water. Tight Lines Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler