Thursday, September 24, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
The first day of Fall is just a few chilly sunrises away. Many of our gang is now back into their work routine and that means getting out with a fly rod is a weekend adventure. Steve and Brandon were out with their Water Master chasing brookies this weekend. They tied into some nice ones! They also could not resist the opportunity to cast to some beautiful cutthroat trout. Way to go guys!
Friday, September 18, 2015
As the water temperatures start to decline during the cooler fall days, lake white fish will be foraging again close to shore. Today the surface water temperature was 59F. Larry and I launched at Sunbreaker's Cove on Sylvan Lake and headed to the weed lines along the north west corner of the lake. We set up in 8 feet of water and had a blast chironomid fishing about 7 feet down. Basic chironomids like a size 12 black and red ice cream cone are all you need to catch lake whites. Lake white fish are scrappy and lots of fun to tangle with.
Larry and I were lucky. We had virtually no wind today. As we fished closer to shore, we were able to sight fish in 4 to 6 feet of water.
...definitely a fabulous day to spend on the water with my buddy!
My first fish using my 60th birthday present, a beautiful Islander Reel.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Taryn, her sister Lauren and her Dad join a group to fish for sturgeon and salmon on the west coast. The sturgeon fishing this year was a bit slow because of the rain just as they arrived although the fishing for spring salmon (chinooks) was outstanding!
Looks like you had a blast ladies!
Sunday, September 6, 2015
...from Steve Leuthi!
Another great adventure! Thanks for the fabulous pictures too Steve and Brandon!
Brandon and I set out for a two day exploration trip up in the Grande Cache wilderness. We left Thursday evening after work. The goal was grayling but we knew this river was a host to big bull trout as well as Alberta's elusive native Athabasca Rainbow trout. We arrived in Grande Cache around midnight after a long snowy drive, found ourselves a motel and got a couple hours of sleep before venturing off highway. The drive from here on was certainly an adventure! The navigation of muddy ruts and gated caribou sanctuaries weren't enough to keep us from finding the river and we did so after just over 280 kms of oilfield roads out from Grande Cache.
We found ourselves a suitable camping spot then put the rods together and executed the final few kilometers on foot. The very first part of the river we came to was holding bulls, and lots of them. Within the first few casts we were both onto fish and a great start to the trip! We then moved on upstream and found some very nice water and with the next pool Brandon quickly completed what we called the Northern Alberta Slam! (a bull, a grayling and a rainbow in one day).
The rest of the day was foggy and rainy at about 5C but the fishing was good as I also got my first few arctic grayling, a few good ones at 17" and 18" some of which even ate the bull trout streamer with a 2/0 hook!! Saturday morning we woke up to a major frost and chilly temperatures but with an upside of the fog lifting and not a cloud in the sky! We started on the river right where we left off and quickly found the fish eager for a fly. Moving upstream is where I then completed the Northern Alberta Slam, first with a nice rainbow trout that gave us an acrobatic show before being subdued by the net. Then we found the honey hole.. a part of the river with a nice bend and large log jams that was very very deep. The water was nice and clear where we watched big bull trout chasing each other to grab our flies! The odd time a nice grayling would out compete the trout! This went on for a while (along with a lot of high fives and laughing) before we had to make the hike back to the truck. While hiking back through a meadow in thick brush we made a discovery that gave us chills. Grizzly scat and dig holes of which the dirt was still damp and very fresh. We made it to the truck in one piece with the bear spray still in hand and made the long journey back to Red Deer. There is already discussions about going back next year!
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Take a look at the details in THIS ARTICLE from the Calgary Hearald!
One of humorist and outdoor writer, Patrick McManus' first books was called, A Fine and Pleasant Misery. My buddy Jay always reminds me that when we go camping no matter whether we are going top shelf (with a trailer) or roughing it, there has to be a certain amount of misery.
I was hoping to camp out along a river at some point this season. Bill Young and his brother, John were game!
"Where do you want to go Bill?"
"Let's hike downstream and set up camp!"
Bill is a minimalist. A few items in a backpack, his trusty Andersen 5 weight bamboo fly rod and a box of flies. Bill's brother, John, joined us as well. A quick check of the Environment Canada weather page warned us that miserable weather was on the horizon. That was not going to slow us down. We had our layers and rain gear.
We hoisted our packs and got our 60 year old (plus) legs down the trail to our destination. We were only going to hike a few hours and set up camp. The weather that morning started off at -4C and the puddles along the trail were frozen. The sky was blue but the upslope wind told us that something was coming!
We arrived at our spot, threw our backpacks off and set up our rods. It was time to fish before the weather changed. It was quite cool and no hatches were happening. We set up for nymphing and the cutthroat were hungry. We were into fish right away and lots of them. What were the hot flies? A San Juan Worm definitely was the winner although a CDC Red Tag and a fly that was essentially a piece of pink fluff on a beaded hook worked great too. But the most important part of our nymph set up was split shot, enough to get your nymphs deep into the run!
The wind was blowing from the east. A long roll of thunder told us that we better find our rain gear and secure our camp. We set up at an old hunting camp. There was lots of shelter from the elements. Once set up, we layered up and got back on the water. The rain came and the temperature dropped to about 5C.
As predicted the steady rain started and a few rolls of thunder made our afternoon feel like 8 o'clock at night then the hatches started. Lots of mayflies. Blue Winged Olives were the primary mayfly. I had a bunch in my fly box. Size 18 to size 22 mayflies, really? These are cutthroat, will they really key into bugs that small. In a word, yes!
Well we tied the tiny BWOs on with another fly (usually a small parachute adams) so we could see where our flies were on the water. Again we caught lots of impressive cutthroat. Bill's brother has not had great days on this particular river but today that tune changed. He was into fish all day.
Bill went exploring further downstream. He found two productive runs. One which gave up a cutthroat in the 20 inch category.
We fished till dark and got a fire going. Our hands were cold and needed warming. What an amazing day of fly fishing. The miserable weather brought out lots of mayflies and the cutthroat were on them. The steady rain intensified and then later turned to snow.
We all pulled out our warmer clothes and hunkered down. Supper, a night cap and then off to the tent. A warm sleeping bag was calling.
The rain and snow showers slowed in the night.
The morning was cool, about 4 C. We quickly built a fire and got the coffee on. The bacon and pancakes went down great. There was no rush to hit the river so another pot of coffee was brewed as we enjoyed our warm fire. We got out our fly boxes and shared some flies. Exchanging flies and ideas on patterns teaches you lots.
The all night rain had brought the river up just a bit and thankfully the cutthroat were still willing.
Later in the morning we packed up and headed upstream. Bill and I knew the water well so we had no problem finding active fish!
In one run, BWOs were hatching. The BWOs in this particular run were size 20. I had 3 takes with my size 18 BWO fly but they all shook off.
The only boot prints we saw were our own. Mayflies were hatching and the cutthroat were on them.
We got back to Bill's truck later in the afternoon. The rough road back to the pavement was a slippery quagmire. The snow had made the peaks in the area completely white.
A quick stop for supper and back to the city! Great trip!
For most, Patrick McManus would have been right. We loved our trip.
CDC Red Tag
The calm before the storm!
Mayflies were hatching everywhere and the cutthroat were rising constantly!
A.K.'s BWO Quill (slightly modified)
Wiggle Worm San Juan Worm
It rained, its snowed but we were warm and reasonably comfortable.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
What a beautiful September 1st day! You could see lots of harvesting happening as we headed out to Beaver Lake! Larry and I have not fly fished together at a lake for some time so it was great to get out and enjoy one of Alberta's Quality Trophy Fisheries. Beaver Lake is a catch and release lake that is very popular with fly fishers. There were 17 pontoon boats on Beaver today but there was lots of room for everybody! The water temperatures were excellent. They ranged from 59 F to 61 F on the surface.
Larry and I set up in 12 feet of water and once we started to use blood worm imitations, specifically a fly designed by John Kent called the Duct Tape Fly, we were catching many rainbows. John uses the Duct Tape Fly at a favourite lake in BC in August with lots of success and it already has proven its effectiveness in the Parkland Region of Manitoba.
We caught plenty of rainbows ranging from 10 inches to 19 inches. We caught several in the 16 to 19 inch category.
The rainbows were feisty and in great condition!
As noon arrived, the blood worm action slowed and Larry started to fly fish with a boobie using a full sink line. He used the count down method to get the fly down (25 seconds seemed to work the best). Remember to strip boobies quickly so the fish do not take the fly deep.
About mid afternoon, the backswimmers started to move with some regularity and the rainbows were slashing at them. The action was not fast and furious but Jennings Ultimate Boatmen were the ticket.
From now until freeze up, our Central Alberta pot hole lakes will be a great choice to fly fish.