Thursday, June 30, 2022

Canada Day Long Weekend-Free Fishing Weekend!

You do not need a fishing license to fish this weekend. Yep, I think that happens twice a year! Enjoy Canada Day weekend. It is always a blast. Remember that rivers are still dangerously high. We have lots of pot hole lakes to enjoy! Dickson, Hansons, Ray's Pond and Heritage Ranch can all be fished from shore. Enjoy!


Monday, June 27, 2022

Barry Mitchell Pond at Heritage Ranch

After running errands today, I rode my bike down to Mitchell Pond at Heritage Ranch. I wanted to see how the fly fishing was. In a word, excellent. The stocked rainbows were extremely aggressive. I even caught two, twice in my brief stop at the pond. I used two Glen's Leeches tied on a size 14 jig hook!

The pond has lots of weeds growing but just dangling a small nymph or micro leech 4 feet down had me catching stockers for 40 minutes.

Jump on your bike, better still take some kids with you and have a great time. It is a 15 minute walk from the Heritage Ranch restaurant. Don't worry about the 158 stairs you have to climb on the way back. The recent rains have raised the water levels nicely at Barry Mitchell Pond!


Flow Rates of Rivers in a Few Selected Locations-Water is HIGH

Rivers in Alberta are definitely coming down in flow BUT are still dangerously high! Take care and be safe!

...from Alberta Basins!


Cow Lake Bathometric Map

...from Angler's Atlas

I have been hearing good things about Cow Lake. Over 100 000 trout were stocked this year and there are definitely carry over brown and rainbows in the lake. Just remember that although there was a winter kill two years ago, there does remain a population of pike and perch!

Cow Lake is so shallow so it is well worth your while to know where the slightly deeper troughs are in the lake. Do pay attention to water temperature as well. As the water temperature rises, the stress on our trout increases!

With all of our rivers blown out by extreme rainfalls and winter run off, lakes will be our best option to fly fish! 

Crazy start to summer with the late run off and high ground water! I am certainly glad to see the moisture.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Top Pike Flies for Cree Lake-Northern Magic

Everyone will have their favourites but a fly that was new to me called Chip's Northern Magic was my go to fly at Cree Lake. Easy to tie with just two materials although I did add some NMF Titan Dubbing called UV Black Mirror and eyes to some of the flies.

It was easy to cast and the pike were all over it for some reason.

I like articulated flies or flies with wiggle tails as well. Great action in the water!

Take a look at this Orvis article on top 10 pike flies. There are so many excellent flies for pike. This is an excellent starting spot!

NMF Titan Dubbing - UV Black Mirror

NMF Titan Dubbing called UV Black Mirror and eyes (optional)


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Cree Lake Images From Steve Luethi

Josh Nugent and Steve Luethi were our hosts for the Cree Lake adventure. Both guys carry top end camera gear. Steve has the housing for "over/under" shots with his Sony camera. Steve shared several images with me. I particularly love the underwater shots of the monster pike. Tanks Steve for the great images.

This is Tom, Steve's dad!

Tom's First Arctic Grayling

Andrew with a big pike.

Steve and Josh With Some Amazing Specimens

One of the shore lunch spots. This bear ensured there were no left overs. The area was spotless!

Cree Lake Lodge as we left for Fort McMurray


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Navigating and Messaging with an InReach

Our kids gave Karen and I a gift card to help cover the cost of an InReach. An InReach is a navigation tool made by Garmin. The neat feature of an InReach is your ability to text or get help practically anywhere. This was a new experience for us. Out in Northern Saskatchewan at Cree Lake near the Northwest Territories, I was able to text my wife back home or communicate with anyone on my contact list on my phone. I can also signal for help if an emergency occurs. There are several companies that have designed this technology. You do have to pay a monthly fee for this service but to know exactly where you are and have the ability to communicate at any time is very important. Our kids realize that we spend lots of time in the backcountry. You can also lay a track down to follow. There is no question that this technology is an added navigation and safety tool. 

Oh yes, you can put your InReach to sleep when you are not using it! That saves money.


Cree Lake Adventure Part 2

We used articulated flies a lot while fly fishing for lake trout! The lakers responded to white and chartreuse and occasionally brown flies. I liked to add a wiggle tail. Wiggle tails add extra movement but are tougher to cast any distance. We casted and retrieved although trolling is the best strategy for lake trout. Lakers often follow a fly a long time before striking. Wiggle tails and the way they disturb the water really irritates pike. There were times that small 4 or 5 inch streamers worked great for the massive pike.

Everybody comes and goes by float plane. We were picked up at Fort McMurray and landed on the water right out front of the lodge. We were more than satisfied with our rustic digs for the 7 days. Self guided trips can be very successful as long as you are confident driving a boat, using a GPS and you ensure your boat partner is spotting reefs and shallow areas.

This is our outpost camp. Rustic but comfortable.We had access to hot showers and washrooms.

Our meals were excellent. We Prepared a meal plan and precooked some of our meals.

Tom, my boat mate motoring down Cree Lake.


Cree Lake Adventure Part One

Steve Luethi and I along with a few other guys just got back from fly fishing 7 days at Cree Lake Lodge in Northern Saskatchewan. Our adventure began with a drive to Fort McMurray to catch a float plane into the lodge. Once we got the proper weight requirements for our flight sorted out, we flew approximately 90 minutes to the "Land of the Little Sticks", aka black spruce and sand of Cree Lake. Our quarry for the week would be monster pike, lake trout and arctic grayling. To add to the challenge, we were not using guides. It was a do it yourself trip in an outpost camp. We had our own food and the lodge supplied the boat, a map of the area and gas on a daily basis.

We had only one day when we were shore bound by big wind. We spent 7 days out on the water. We saw a lot of eskers, sandy shorelines, black spruce and big fish! Our trip included some challenges but we worked our way through them and enjoyed what the lake had to offer.

Cree Lake is massive. There are three fishing lodges on the lake. Cree Lake Lodge is a great set up. A fully guided trip there is not cheap but the quality of the fishery makes it so worth it. 

Our day usually involved motoring to a variety of different locations on the lake to fly fish. We had good intel and our trip was hosted by Out FlyFishing's owner, Josh Nugent! Josh was able to take us to certain locations to fly fish that in the past were reliable places to look for pike and lakers.

We even drove the boats carefully down the Cree River to fly fish for arctic grayling! The pike in the lake are gigantic, some topping over 50 inches. The lake trout in the lake include some over 50 pounds.

We were able to navigate the massive lake using our GPS and In Reach system. The fly fishing was simply ourstanding. A Do It Yourself trip does have challenges and the price point is excellent although you have to be prepared for anything.

Check back, I'll post more pictures from our trip in the coming days!

45 Inch Northern Pike

Average lake trout!

Clearwater River

Steve landed a big pike just after Andrew netted a biggie!

We saw bears pretty much every day!