Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Trip to Beaver Lake

Every time you get out on the water, there is something new to learn. Today was no exception! Larry and I hit Beaver Lake for the first time this year. It was a warm spring day with a chinook arch stretched across the western sky. We were armed with some excellent in tell that hopefully would get us into some rainbows. Rick warned us about the tiny chironomids that the rainbows were targeting early in the day. We caught some nice fish on micro leeches and each throat sample was full of tiny chironomids. When I say tiny, I mean size 22-24. The rainbows were stuffed full of them. I do not even have a chironomid smaller than size 18 so I tied on my favourite micro leech, Glen's Leech.  The water temperature in the morning was 47F and it rose to 49C by the end of the afternoon! The rainbows that took the micro leech must have thought that we were serving up dessert! We were hoping to see some larger chironomids in the early afternoon but that did not happen. We tried chromies with no success so we went back to our micro leeches and fished along the edges. We targeted trees, sticks and dead trees that were in the water. We were only 3 to 5 feet deep.

Last night we tied up olive chironomids and olive ribbed chromies in sizes 12 to 14. We were ready but these chironomids did not appear. We'll be ready for our next trip in a few days!

It was a slow day for us but it was nice to get reacquainted with the loons, osprey, geese and of course all the familiar faces on the water! 

The lake had lots of fly fishers out today!

P.S. Please turn off the aerator!

This throat sample was from just one 16 inch rainbow. 

Don Andersen came by for a visit!

We did have some success!

It is interesting to see the colours of these tiny chironomids.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lahontan Cutthroat and Lawn Chairs!

(all photos courtesy of Darren Petersen and Bob Vanderwater)

If you love large colourful trout then lahontan cutthroat are certainly a species to add to your fly fishing calender. It is a long drive to Washington State from Red Deer but it is so worth the effort. Pyramid Lake in Nevada, has the monster lahontans but that was too far a drive for us, so we settled for a lake in Washington State. Doug, Larry, Bob and Darren headed out of Red Deer at 5 am and by 4:30 pm local time, we had checked into the motel, bought our fishing licence and were rigging up our rods at the lake. The mercury hovered around -5C when we left Red Deer and when we arrived at the lake, the thermometer read 27C. 

As I stretched my muscles after the long drive, I could see my friend Claude fly fishing from a lawn chair! Claude had knee replacement surgery just 9 weeks ago and he was not going to let that be an obstacle to enjoying the upcoming week. My buddy Leon gave me a run down on what had transpired since their arrival at noon from Spokane. It was neat having our Central Alberta gang meet up with a few members of the Inland Empire Fly Club.

Claude caught a ton of lahontans from his lawn chair. Each day he hiked up a local mountain as his physiotherapy for his "bionic" knee. 

A quick scan of the beach made me smile. The lahontans were cruising along the drop off only 7 or 8 feet from shore. At times, pods of lahontans that numbered 10 to 100 cruised down the shore. I knew we were going to have a great week! 

Darren had not caught a lahontan before but that quickly changed with a healthy 21 inch buck! Everybody was hooking up.

The sun slipped behind the mountains to the north west and that signalled us to head to town to get supper at our favourite Mexican restaurant. The owner was there to greet us. He smiled when he saw our gang walk through the door. He remembered us and like last year, the service and food was outstanding. Yes, Doug drank his tequila although his eyes seemed to bug out after the shot glass hit the table.

We knew from our past visits, that damsels were a primary food source at the lake as were sculpins and chironomids. I tied up 100 baby damsels for all to use. The North Forty Fly Shop (used to be called the Big "R") guys suggested we use sculpin patterns with a sink tip line, we preferred sight fishing with our damsels.

Each morning started off with breakfast at 6 am at the motel. A quick stop at the Safeway deli counter and then we were off to the lake. We stopped at a steelhead fish ladder each morning to say hello to the steelies heading up the creek. We saw lots each morning!

Doug's wife, Marlene, baked muffins and an apple pie. They were delicious and quickly devoured. 

We lucked out with the weather. No waders were necessary because it was so warm. Out came the lawn chairs as the guys headed to their favourite spots on the lake!

Bob Burton got it just right. He brought his lawn chair down to the lake, sat his Starbucks on the side table, put his gear bag down within arms reach and lit his cigar! Bob was not expecting to fly fish this way but what the heck!

I love to chase lahontans down the beach so I wasn't going to be sitting in a lawn chair. I even hooked three lahontans from one pod. I had to be quick landing the trout and sprint down the shore in pursuit of the pod.

The rookie, Darren, had the fly fishing figured out fast and he was catching his fill of colourful lahontans. Double headers happened all the time, even triple headers.

Doug caught the "tank" of the trip. At some point during the week, we all caught sizeable lahontans. The typical fish were 18-22 inches and we did catch several specimens that were 25 inches or larger!

It was interesting to see that one day, we caught primarily male lahontans; the very next day we caught mainly females.

 Leon and Bob decided to launch a boat and go exploring! They wanted to sight fish. Well each shoal had lahontans to sight fish to. That was a lot of fun, especially the challenge of casting to a single cruising trout.

Bob and Leon, 3 miles down the lake looking for cruisers.

Sight fishing was fantastic!

The week flew by and luckily the weather changed so we did not feel too bad about heading back home. My buddy Leon, like me, loves the camaraderie. We had amazing fly fishing and the gang had a ball. Eating out at the end of each day and talking about this and other trips made the week quite special!

The last stretch of pavement to Red Deer greeted us with a monumental rainstorm. Just after parking the jetta in the garage, it started to snow. The snow escalated to a blizzard, we made it home just in the nick of time.

Yes, we will be back! Great fly fishing and connecting with friends makes my heart soar!

Friday, April 17, 2015

That is the Way to do it Troy

Many of the local rivers, other than our cutthroat rivers and the Red Deer River, are now open to fishing. Troy has been out to sample some of our moving water! The smile on his face says a lot about his day! Way to go Troy!

Ice Off in Central Alberta

Spring has definitely sprung here in Central Alberta and our pot hole lakes are slowly shedding their icy winter skin. There is open water and rivers that are quite fishable in Central Alberta. Be sure to get this year's fishing licence from Alberta Relm

It will not be long until our lakes in west central alberta are completely ice free. The pictures in this post were taken in the last few days!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The IF4 Film Festival makes a stop here in Red Deer at Carnival Theatre this Thursday April 16th starting at 6:30 pm. The doors open at 6 pm. Tickets are $15 if you get them at TC Outfitters. TC Outfitters is open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings!

Josh Nugent will be here with his gang to show the films!

The reviews of the two hours of films is excellent. Lets get behind the IF 4 Film Festival. Bring a friend, ...bring lots of friends!

...see you there!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bullshead Reservoir

If you told me that Larry and I would have two windless days at Bullshead Reservoir in the Cypress Hills, you would have said that was a lot of bull. Amazingly, it is true. Even the third day we fished, the wind was not a big deal. We dragged our sorry butts out to the car at 5 am and headed towards Medicine Hat and on up the Eagle Butte Road to Bullshead. It takes a good 4 plus hours to get there from Red Deer. The endless prairie along Highway 1 is only interrupted by power lines and long trains! Of course we were motivated by the opportunity to catch some giant rainbows. 

Bullshead Reservoir is nested in the Cypress Hills and there is not a tree in sight but the rolling hills make a great back drop for the reservoir!

Well our in tell gave us a starting spot and we were not disappointed. Size 14 flashbacks and baby damsels fished great during the day. We actually saw boatmen seemingly raining onto the lake when it was calm. As the day was winding down, ice minnows did very well too. The rainbows were chasing forage fish.

There were lots of fly fishers, many walking and wading like us and others in boats. Many fly fishers went for a good walk to find a favourite stretch of water. Everybody was spread out and the reservoir can handle lots of fishermen.

The small pond at the north end that is connected to the main lake by a culvert fished great.

The water was still cold. The week before we arrived saw two feet of snow hit the Cypress Hills. The snow quickly melted during our stay. 

The mornings fished a bit slow but the afternoons were spectacular. It may have been warming water temperatures that caused this to happen. We caught upwards of 40 fish a day with about half of them over 18 inches with a few hitting 24 inches and a couple even better than that!

It is interesting to see a delayed harvest lake be so successful. Everyday, "keepers" leave the lake. My only disappointment are the fisherman who remove more than 1 "keeper" a day out of the lake. There is enforcement at times at the lake. Luckily the lake seems to endure this.

The chironomid fishing should start very soon at Bullshead and all the lakes in southern Alberta.