Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh, the midwinter thaw-before-freeze-up blues

Andy and I have been talking a lot about this next fishing season. I suppose technically we’ve each caught our first trout of the season, that trip we did about a month ago on the Bow, but we both know that the season doesn’t start in earnest until maybe April at the soonest. The foothill streams open then –legally, but maybe not practically– and we can go out fishing from home, on streams, in about a couple hours drive.

It doesn’t matter much, really. Fishing is just fishing, and we just go when we can.

Sometimes we get lucky and local lakes ice-off around mid-late April, giving us the chance to head out 3 or 4 times a week, chasing hungry trout that go anywhere from 10 inches to 10 pounds, depending on which lakes are open, and our general luck.

For the last several seasons a bulk of our stillwater fishing has been on a series of private ponds. These had several undeniable benefits. First, they were only a couple minutes from town, so the driving time was negligible. Second, they were totally fishable from shore, so a quick trip was easy, and even a full-day outing was just enjoyable, with no boat really needed. Third, the fish were large. 22” average large. Last, the membership was cheap like borshch. Around a hundred bucks for a full season.

But then the lake with the 22” average size winterkilled, but the other ponds had smaller, but still good fish. Maybe 17” as an average. Then I also moved to downtown Edmonton because of a convenience to get to university and back, so now the short drive is more like an hour. And I can get to public lakes in maybe 35-minutes. There have been some other changes, too, aesthetic ones, and the experience may have just moved on for me.

Andy and I have been talking about fishing the public lakes as often as possible this year. I know that some of our lakes/ponds are simply mediocre fisheries designed to yield 5-fish limits of cookie cutter 7” trout, but a few select lakes, like the one I fished last fall, have large trout. We’ve neglected the lakes that have always treated us well, but want to go back this year.

Also planned is a backpacking trip for goldens. I don’t know about Andy, but I’ve been tying shrimp and chironomids like mad just dreaming of this trip. In case the flies are a bust, we’re also planning a couple day-hikes to cutty lakes, were I know the flies will work, because the fish are just so willing.

I’ve also neglected a few of these over the years. The reality is, I live far away from them. Maybe a 5 hour drive to the trail head, and I just haven’t had the chance to go in a long time. I sort of miss them. These are often lakes I fished in my teenage years, and they are quite special to me. I need to see how they’ve held up. At least I don’t see fishing reports online about them.

Toss in the inevitable summer brown trout fishing, some sight fishing in early spring with an old friend of mine, a return trip for Dane (hopefully) in fall to tackle some spring creek browns, and this is shaping up to be one hell of a season.

I hope everyone else is having a good winter’s tying and planning.


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