Sunday, July 31, 2022

Floating the Red Deer River with Friends-Jet Boat Hastles

Happy August Long Weekend Everyone! I hope you have a chance to hit your favourite waters to fly fish! Steve, Doug and I decided to float the Red Deer River on Saturday. We just wanted to have a relaxing float and pull over so we all could fish on some of our favourite stretches. The fly fishing was excellent. We caught lots of rocky mountain whitefish. When we started our float around 10 am, there were lots of PMDs on the water. We did see a few sippers but nothing consistent. We nymphed with golden stones, wiggle worms and rainbow warriors. The rainbow warrior definitely out fished our other offerings. In several runs, we had to add split shot to get our nymphs down. That helped us connect a lot in some runs!

We did hook several browns but only landed one small one.

Sadly, the jet boaters were not very kind to us as the day wore on. They blasted through runs we were fishing, did not throttle down in the least. In two cases they were just plain offensive. They were stunting on the water and verbally quite abusive. The water was completely churned up because of their stunting. Sadly they were also drinking and driving their boats. That in itself is not good. I certainly do not mind sharing the river with everybody. It is the long weekend after all. Lots of canoes, paddle boarders and kayakers were out enjoying the water as well. Many jet boaters are respectful, sadly not all are!

If everyone respected the regulations, it would be awesome.

We had an excellent first half of our float. We will float earlier next time so we can avoid the jet boat antics. There are very strict regulations on the Bow River  (no jet boats allowed in the city section at all) but the Red Deer River sadly seems to be a free for all! 

These jet boats were doing it right.

Hexagenia on the Red Deer River, who knew?


Thursday, July 28, 2022

One Evening at Maligne Lake

Every once in a while, you are in the right place at the right time.! Karen and I saw a bunch of rainbows cruising along at shelf in 5 feet of water our first evening out! The rainbows were feeding, at times on the surface. Karen just shortened her size 16 black and red ice cream cone chironomid to 3 feet down. The action for 90 minutes was superb!

Well worth the one minute to take a look!


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Fly Fishing Maligne Lake Part 2

Fly fishing at Maligne is lots of fun but the scenery is definitely spectacular and a big distraction. Enjoying your morning coffee watching the sun rise or just taking it all in is a big part of the Maligne experience. You miss lots of takes because you were looking at the mountains, osprey, eagles or  loons! A few moments later you are hooked up so no big deal!


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Fly Fishing Maligne Lake Part 1

Jasper National Park has several outstanding fisheries. Maligne Lake is one of them. Maligne Lake is a long lake, almost 22 km long and many of you have seen the beautiful view of Spirit Island well down the lake. Karen and I fly fished Maligne two years ago and we finally had a chance to go back. The weather was fantastic and we were surprised to find out that chironomids were still hatching. We decided to use our canoe to get around. I rigged up oar locks on the bow and stearn of our 18 foot prospector canoe so we could use anquors. We easily paddled the canoe to likely looking spots on the lake and I used my Garmin sounder to find drop offs and potential structure to fly fish. Maligne is a deep lake (318 feet) and looking carefully at a map helped us decided where to go. Maligne has both brook trout and rainbows. The lake is in Jasper National Park about 45 km from the town of Jasper. There are campsites on the lake that you can book from Parks Canada on line. Maligne is at an elevation of over 5000 feet.

Karen and I drove to the lake from Red Deer. After an early 5 hour drive, we loaded up our canoe and camping gear. We had great conditions for both camping and fly fishing. After finally getting to our camp area, we set up our tent, stored our food in a bear bin and finally we were able to rig up and set off fly fishing. We set up with small leaches and CBOs (Canadian Black and Orange). As we set up, we could see chironomids on the surface and several emerging. We quickly changed over to size 16 black and red ice cream chironomids. We used weights to drop our chironimid down to the bottom and then set our strike indicators so our chironomid was about 12 inches off of the bottom. We then took off the weights after we adjusted on strike indicators. It did not take long for us to hook up with both rainbows and brookies. We stayed with the tiny chironomid for the next day as well although we tried several different locations. Our sounder was quite valuable to help us find structure, i.e. drop offs and the 14-20 of water we were looking for. To say we had a blast was an understatement! Take a look!


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Hidden Lake Restoration Project

Karen and I took a walk one evening to Hidden Lake not too far from where we were camping in the backcountry. Hidden Lake is located in a beautiful valley. It once was teaming with brook trout. Rotenone was used by Parks Canada to kill off the brook trout and plant pure strain west slope cutthroat. It is part of their plan to try and bring back a more natural balance. I always wonder what the logic is in these expensive projects. I have heard the arguments. Last year, Parks Canada did the same thing to Katharyn Lake in Banff National Park. In some cases, I believe the plan is to kill off lakes and leave them sterile.
I know many backcountry fly fishers who used to love fly fishing Katharyn Lake to kill off the cutthroat that they planted many years ago but they were a strain not native to the area.

What I do not understand is that the outflow creeks will still have brook trout in it. It will be difficult to completely eliminate the brook trout! I certainly understand that brook trout can out compete west slopes and can take over a lake or creek.

I hope the project works. I am honestly not a big fan of the project but I need to be open enough to see how this project evolves.

Hidden Lake is a spectacular place. It is a 10 km hike. Maybe at some point we can enjoy catching native west slopes in the lake.


Friday, July 22, 2022

Grandkids in the Backcountry

Karen and I have 5 grandkids. They all have shown lots of interest in fishing, even the three year old. Our 9 year old twins grandkids hiked in to meet us at a backcountry camping area. Their parents hauled an amazing amount of gear in to ensure they had everything. One of the boys became under the weather and had to stay at our camp but his brother hiked up over a mountain pass with his dad. He then started to fly fish with one of our rods. It did not take too long to connect with his first brook trout! He managed to catch and release a few more. What a great time. I was thrilled to see his enthusiasm for fly fishing and his love of hiking in the backcountry. Karen and I were thrilled. I hope his brother feels a lot better the next time he gets to the backcountry!


CBO-Canadian Black(or Brown/Olive) and Orange

I was quite impressed with how well brook trout responded to Phil Rowley's CBO, Canadian Black and Orange tied with a tungsten Head Turner Bead on a jig hook! I think the orange bead was the trigger. I do modify the fly pattern by using Canadian Brown and Canadian Olive Semi-Seal as well. That is a personal preference of course. I have added the video of how Phil ties the CBO. It certainly does not take long. You can tie them balanced or with a head turner bead!


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Back to Backcountry Brookies

There are special places to fly fish in Alberta! Karen and I are lucky enough that we are able to load up our backpacks and hike into the backcountry in Banff National Park to fly fish these places. Yes sweat equity is definitely involved but we love camping and fly fishing in spectacular Banff National Park. We booked backcountry camp spots way back in February and we hoped that the weather would cooperate. As you can see the weather was amazing. We hiked up to close to 8000 feet to fly fish for backcountry brookies. Our packs were heavy because we planned on a 4 day stay. Where we went, the brookies are plentiful and it is a catch and release fishery. We fly fished two lakes that were close to each other! We caught the brookies on orange crush chernobyls and mico leeches. Remember that if you do fish in the National Parks, you need a Parks Canada Fishing license. 

There is nothing like enjoying your morning coffee watching the sun rise over glaciers and 10 000 foot peaks. The wild flowers were just starting to bloom. There is no hustle and bustle. Hikers go by. Very few of them carry a fly rod. We see so many marmots, columbia ground squirrels, deer, elk, mountain goats and at times a bear or two.

The best part of these experiences is the view. Often we just sit and take it all in. After seeing these pictures, you might even agree! The sweat equity is definitely worth it to us.