Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A few days fishing...

So I've managed a few days with a few people over the last week.  I really like fishing for fishing's sake, but I enjoy it largely for the company I keep while on the water, and if I go alone I tend to fish for a few hours, but enjoy the drive and scenery as much as anything else.  I'm most likely to quite after a good fish or two, or fish an unknown creek, expecting nothing much in the way of results.

I went fishing with my friend Mykola on Thursday last week after my final exam, and we had a good time at a local lake.  I was there a few days earlier, and landed some big fish, so I took him out and was happy when he caught a couple nice trout.  He told me that the first trout of the day was actually his largest to date, and having started fly fishing only last year, I thought the 3.5 or 4 pound rainbow was a great start to the day!  He was quite happy, and I think a highlight, though understated at the time, was that he tied the flies he was using to get into the trout.

Mykola with a nice trout

I also got out this weekend with Trev. I'm off to Europe for two months this summer for (mostly) university, so this would likely be the only time we'll get out together before I leave.  We originally wanted to head to the Crow, but water conditions blew out the day before we left, so that got nixed...  To top it off, we left my place at 4:30 am, but then got a flat just south of Edmonton before 5 am.

Bad omens. 

So I changed the flat, but we had to turn around and switch cars (I guess it could have been worse, we could have been halfway to Red Deer, then need to wait around, hoping they could patch the tire).  Anyway, late start, crappy water at our preferred destination, so we ended up doing some exploring and driving for no fish.

Day 2, we went to a small lake we hadn't fished since we were in high school.  The plan was to check out some small lakes that should have been icing out, and the first one we checked was 50% free, so we hit it.  It didn't take long for Trev to get into a fat (FAT!) 16"er.  These fish live well on a steady diet of shrimp and minnows, so there is no denying that they grow fast.  These trout that are 16"es were stocked last year at 8"es.  That is some good growth.  We ended out the day with around 10 or so trout, all in that same size class (there was at least a partial winterkill last year, so we don't know if there will be any larger ones right now.  By fall they should be quite a bit larger!).

The fishing was good, and I had plans to fish with Andy on Monday.  The fishing was fun the day before with Trevor, so we decided to meet at the same lake the next morning around 10.  We had a bit slower of a day.  The wind was up and from the east (never a good sign around here), and the remaining ice was shoved into the corner we'd fished the day before.

So we went to the east end as it was ice free, and had a go.  Andy had a take first cast, but didn't connect, then we fished without any action for about an hour.  Then Andy got a fish, lost another, and missed an aggressive take, all within 20 minutes.  This was pretty close to what we knew the lake to be: there are a fair number of fish, but they cruise, and the lake is pretty featureless, so you either move all over the place, or wait for a school to come by.  Anyway, these trout were those same fat-ass 16"ers.

No complaints from us.

We moved down to the windy side of the lake later in the afternoon.  Our favourite part of the day was actually watching the ice melt away from 50% coverage to nothing over the course of a few hours.  This opened up some decent water, too!  I got lucky and landed a fat rainbow, and we took a throat sample; crammed full of shrimp and a lone minnow (neither of which was all that surprising).  But one of the shrimp was over an inch long.  Seriously large gammarus, so I tied a few in the right colour (had some biggies, but not in the right olive colour) when I got home (a couple for both myself and Andy) so we'll be prepared for next time.
Andy Tchir photo

The weather has hit the shitter for now.  Barely above freezing, and not looking good for the next day or two.  Hope everyone is staying warm and having some fun on the water.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ah, spring, and a little bit of a fishing trip

Well, last week threw us for a loop. We had a mild week, followed by some more cold and snow on the weekend, followed by a couple warm days, then a cold 'un today. Well, today was so-so I guess.

It was -2˚C when I left the apartment this morning at 11 o'clock, and it stayed between that and 0˚C for my 40 minutes drive out of the city. I My plan was to say, "to hell with studying this afternoon," and drive to 3 or 4 lakes nearby that may or may not be iced-off enough to wet a line from shore. Of course, I do this drive with a bit of fishing gear in the back of the truck.

Luck was good to me, and the first lake I stopped at had open water to the bank, and no other fishermen at it! That last part is important because there was only about 10m of bank available to cast from, and while I'm not opposed to sharing the wealth in this limited opportunity time-period, I won't complain about some solitude, either.

Eventually another fellow did show up, with a float tube (I wouldn't be so brave with the barely-thawed lake), and we chatted a bit. I guess the fishing was a bit slow the day before. It was today too, but I did manage two large trout, which sure helped cure my freezing fingers! (My rod guides were freezing all day)

For this type of early, ice-off spring fishing, there are a few points to remember. Firstly, the water is cooooold! Like a degree or two above freezing. The trout are not overly active, so don't move your flies too quickly. Secondly, use year-round food items as your staple flies. My fish came on scuds and leeches today, with a few other patterns being ignored. Thirdly, be persistent. I fished for nearly an hour between each take (I had a third fish, but he sliced me off). The point? Don't expect miracles in the early season, simply be happy that getting out is an option, and remember that our best fishing is yet to come!

At this time of year, be nice. Open water is limited, and unless it is totally unreasonable to do so (like the time we already had 5 people fishing in 15m of open shore, and another guy showed up...), invite others to fish close by, and share a fly or tip.

Oh yeah, dress warm.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ice-off Escapade

A typical early-season stillwater rainbow trout
  I was cleaning out my room and found this old, short article I was meaning to use 7 or so years ago on our website. It's short and fairly abstract so either I was reading too much Bob Scammell at the time or I was in hippyville BC. Please forgive the puns.

With finesse and grace I released the winter demons through a rythmic back and forth motion. Unravelling a cast on an early season spring creek? Nope. Ploppin' indicator rigs on a local trout pond? You bet! Early season trips to places like the Bow and Stauffer are great, but nothing is more special to me than trying out the first few feet of open water on our trout ponds. There is no need to search for motivation, all it takes is an obsession and about 10 months of Alberta winter for you to know what I am talking about.

Winter may be a beautiful to some, but to a fly fishing nut winter gets old fairly quickly and causes many to dip into the liquor cabinet, medicine cabinet, or even the ice fishing section at the store

A condition prescribed by most doctors as the shack nasties is naturally being cured by some Muiracle....oops I mean miracle. After months of near insanity there comes a common symptom, which has some fool filling a box with #26 dry flies that will never grace the end of a line. But luckily there is light on the horizon to save this fishing fool from craziness. Too bad the light on the horizon is a 6 am sunrise shining straight into my eyes while I chug a mug/bucket of coffee trying to wake myself up for fishing and/or showing up to an iced up pond: good thing Kingsalmon is driving today. Once I have finally woken up, it will hit me: I am about to cast my fly rod on still, open water for the first time this year.

Goofing around with a little perch a few years ago at first ice-off

Tight lines,

-Andy aka Dr Shoal