Friday, November 23, 2012

Winter Cutthroats

Tim with a very nice October Westslopes Cutthroat Trout

Tim and I headed out on a mid-October fly fishing trip to Southwestern Alberta. So the title "Winter Cutthroats" may be a little deceiving, but since winter in Alberta starts in September, it adds to the elusiveness of this trip. We drove through the Highwood Pass to the Trunk Road, which was quite the scenic drive. I highly recommend this drive to anyone when conditions permit safe travel.

Beautiful Upper Kananaskis Lake on a cool fall day, a great sight to take in when heading to the Highwood Pass
Much like early season trips, late season trips can be rather unpredictable. We drove through snow and temperatures around 3 degrees Celsius at higher elevations, but fished in weather closer to 12.....not bad at all. We took a nymph rod, streamer rod and dry fly rod, to cover all the basis down at the crick. Tim had the great idea of bringing along a video camera too, so we look forward to posting a video of the trip in the very near future.

Tim with the first fish of the day: a nicely colored little cutthroat trout

All in all, it ended up being a really solid day of fishing. Tim started off with a pretty little cutthroat on the nymph, and I picked one off on a size 20 dry fly. The coolest part was watching the video back at home because you can actually see the cutthroat come up and sip the dry fly in crystal-clear fall water and then get chased and almost EATEN by a big ol' bull trout while scrapping away!

Myself, with a really big mountain whitefish taken on a nymph

The coolest part of the day for me was near the end, when Tim and I had a double-header....the first double-header of this nature I have EVER encountered. There were some bull trout swimming around and Tim had one chase the streamer. They didn't show any interest in the large presentations after that, so we went back to nymphing for whites and cutts...."GOT ONE!" Tim shouted from the other side of the river. "Its a bull trout on a small nymph!" I threw a cast out and got ready to help him land his little bully...BAM! "I got one on too Tim! DOUBLE HEADER ON THE DIMESTORE!" I yelled, imitating a show we watched way too much of years ago...."Mine's a bull trout too!" Talk about a cool scenario! A double header of bull trout on tiny nymphs! We video taped both fish and released them back into the cool water.

Tim with a smaller bull trout taken on a nymph during the epic double-header

We capped the day off with a cold beer to celebrate what we though might have been the last mountain trip of the year. Overall, it was a really fun day and I can't wait to see the video and share it with you all once it's edited!

Tight lines!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Late Fall Madness

There comes a time every year in the Fall when we can sense that the next trip out could be one of the last open water trips of the year.  With this mindset, we tend to fish in some crazier situations than we otherwise wouldn't throughout the year.  We might also fish harder and some might even look at us as being a little bit nuts for being out there.  A last ditch effort to take the boat out one more time with Nick would certainly fit this criteria for being a little crazy.

Nick called and asked if I had some time to go fishing.  I told him, yes, we could head out on Thursday.  We both agreed and the forecast looked ok.  That changed in a hurry, and the night before we left saw a few centimetres of snow fall.  I awoke the next morning to a text from Nick questioning if we should go, and upon looking outside and opening the door, I was starting to think along the same lines.

The forecast was calling for a HIGH of -3C, and -10C with the windchill.  Not wanting to waste the day sitting around, we decided to head out anyways to check out the lake situation and the possibility of at least fishing off shore for a few minutes.  As we drove out, ice fell off the top of the boat, and icicles clung to the was cold!  We arrived at the lake, and checked out the lake side.  This particular lake is sheltered on a couple of sides, and it actually helped with a bit of the wind.

"Do you think we should do this?!?" Nick said.

I responded with, "Yup, this will be interesting!"

We layered up and put the waders on, and started to prepare the boat for unloading.  First problem...the ratchet straps were frozen!  After some quick thinking by Nick, we warmed(!) the straps up with water from the lake and they came free.  Success!  Next, we hooked up the controller for the boat winch (my loader is an automatic loader so my boat sits on my truck).  We pushed the button and the winch had power, but the boat was not moving.  Upon further inspection, the boat was frozen to the rollers on the rack.  After an adjustment there, we broke free, and the boat came down and broke the thin layer of ice on the water.  We were in the clear!

After loading up the boat and rigging up rods, we were off.  Of course, there were no other anglers out on the shoreline or in boats, which is always nice!  We were laughing as we had those couple of issues, and because every time we head out fishing together, there is always poor weather conditions.  Analysis of this shows that to usually be the case, but at the same time, it usually leads to good fishing!

Before we headed off, we spotted some fish coming near the surface closer to the shoreline of the lake, so we anchored in a spot that was parallel with the shore.  With our first casts out, and our hands and rod guides already starting to freeze up, we saw both indicators dip down!  Always a good sign to get some action that quickly!   We started to get into a few fish, and lost quite a few others.

We moved spots a few times, and the action continued to be quite steady.  What a day!  You couldn't ask for more after persevering through the few issues at the start and the poor weather.  If the fishing hadn't been so good, I can't guarantee we would have been out for more than an hour, but we made it on the water for a little over 4 hours.  We were still getting hits like crazy but decided to head off as it would be dark in an hour, and we couldn't really feel our fingers anymore.

We got off the water, loaded everything up, and were headed back to the city.  Satisfied with the day, I put the boat into storage for the winter a few days later...even with the better weather you can't really top a day like that to end the boating season.  Some of the best fishing I have ever had with Nick always come under some adverse conditions, but that's part of the adventure and why fly fishing is so amazing.  It's what keeps us coming back for more!
Nick waiting for the bite on a chilly day on the water.

Waiting, and freezing.

A typical size of trout for the day. Fun, especially in sub zero temperatures!

PS: Sorry for the lack of pics from the day as both of our hands were so cold we could barely move them.  I have a little bit of video that I will edit, and hopefully make a short vid soon!  Thanks for reading!