Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Christmas Time

How the time has flown this year.  Feels like it was just yesterday I was enjoying the warm sun, relaxing in my 'toon and fighting big rainbows on one of my favorite stillwater fisheries.  As I look outside today, with the white blanket of snow covering the streets and lawns, it makes me wonder where all the time has gone.  How quickly the years seem to pass the older I get.  When I was a child, the two month summer holiday I so looked forward to every year would last forever but now summer disappears in the blink of an eye. I guess the older I get the more I contemplate stuff like this as well.  Anyway, here's hoping that you and your family have a chance to spend some time together and make some wonderful Christmas memories.  Let's hope time slows down enough that you can actually enjoy this time of year (and then speed up afterwards so we can get back out on the water).  Merry Christmas my friends and I hope it's filled with lots of Christmas magic.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Troll-Casting

I don't fish nearly as much from a float tube as I do from my pontoon boat any more. And when in my 'toon, I usually anchor down and work an area pretty hard before I move on. There are days though when I feel a need to take the float tube out, dust it off and give my legs a bit of a work out. It's times like this that I go back to what I call 'troll-casting'. Troll-casting is simply a stillwater technique which combines casting and trolling, a term I came up with to describe my actions to students interested in learning stillwater fly fishing from a float tube... [more]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Midge Larva (Bloodworm)

Also known as chironomids, (from the word chironomidae, meaning non-biting midge) there are many anglers who believe the two flies are different but they are indeed one and the same. As fly fishers, when we speak of the chironomid, we are usually referring to the pupa stag of the midge which is more than likely what causes this confusion. To add to this misconception, we have yet another name for the midge when in it‘s larva stag. Commonly known as a bloodworm, the midge larva is not a true worm due to it’s... (read more on Fly Fishing Central)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding The Strike Zone

Getting your flies into the strike zone is fairly important when it comes to stillwater fly fishing. Just a couple of feet can mean the difference between a good day, a great day and a day when you tell your friends, "it was nice just being out on the water". Finding the strike zone starts with techniques you use up on the surface of the water and ends with your flies at just the right depth below. But just how do you find the right depth? Let's start with maps. Bathymetric … [Read more at 'Fly Fishing Central]

Monday, November 1, 2010

Got Pike?

Some fly anglers are reluctant to target pike on a fly rod. Maybe fishing for pike doesn't meet their definition of what fly fishing is all about or maybe it's because of their days spent targeting pike before picking up a fly rod. Whatever the reason, they have no idea how much fun they're missing out on. Fly fishing for pike doesn't have much finesse associated with it, chucking big streamers …   Read more on Got Pike at Fly Fishing Central.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fly Fishing Central

Last week, myself and a select group of experienced fly anglers went live with a brand new fly fishing website entitled 'Fly Fishing Central'.  The concept of our website is to offer fresh new content updated weekly on all things fly fishing with articles, tips and tricks, step-by-step tying and much more. The site also features a new online forum that's already starting to see some pretty decent traffic.  Fly Fishing Central is targeting a global audience and will be looking for salt water and warm water specialist in the near future.  So whether you like fishing cutthroats on a stream, fat stillwater rainbows, monster pike, powerful blue fin tuna, acrobatic bass or tropical bone fish, you'll find something that peaks your interest there.  Come on by, take a look around, sign up on the forum then put your feet up and set a spell.  Fly Fishing Central.
To view my fist stillwater article on FFC entitled Working An Area and Observation, click here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pike Time

With the weather and the waters cooling plus the days getting shorter and the boatman / backswimmer action slowing down around these parts, that usually means pike time for me. The pike will be moving into the shallows so now is the time I start looking at trips out to Wabamun for some monster water wolves. Things have changed at Wabamun however with the closing of the power plant.  There won't be any more warm water coming into the lake but how this will effect the fishing has yet to be seen.  Wading the mouth of the outlet will be a lot colder on the feet for sure but I'm curious if the pike will congregate to this area in the numbers we're used to seeing.  You would think that they would make their way to the channel just out of habit but if the food sources aren't there like in the past they may get wise and move on.  Of course this area can't be any worse than any other shallow area of Wabamun so I would assume success can be found.  The question is just how successful will one be?  Are the cold days of the past with pike after pike on the end of your line over or will their instinct bring them into the area with the numbers we've gotten used to?  Only time and the willingness to investigate can answer that I guess.  We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

On Saturday I took a client out for a stillwater clinic to Muir Lake.  Although he did catch one nice 18 incher under an indicator on a sparkle leech, we didn't see any trout even bump the boatman or backswimmers he was fishing.  The surface action was almost non-existent and the bite never did really pick up near sunset like it usually does.  I'm almost certain the trout were tight to the bank, but thought it was more important to continue my clients casting into more open water than to have him constantly hooking up on weeds.  Unfortunately I can't upload any pics to my pc as my daughter seems to have misplaced the CDROM that came with my new camera.  Hope I find it soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Protection Of The Lakeshore Within The Town Of Wabamun

After 54 years of operation, this last March saw TransAlta shut down its last remaining generating unit. Their plan for next few years will be the demolition of the power plant and complete remediation and reclamation of the plant area including the wetland areas that were altered in the building of the plant back in 1956. TransAlta had built both a cold water intake channel from the lake to cool down it's generators and a warm water discharge channel to force the heated water back into the lake. Although, this reclamation would temporarily alter nesting grounds and spawning habitat, it would soon be wildlife friendly with birds and fish returning to this valuable area.  Sounds pretty good heh?  Well, it does until you hear what the town of Wabamun wants to do with it after TransAlta is done.

The town council is asking the Alberta Government for approval for development south of the CN rail-tracks.  This area is currently where the warm water discharge channel sits and is an important nesting area for birds and spawning fish.  The wetlands has no strong foundation for development meaning this marshy area would need excessive gravel fill to make it suitable to build on.  According to the plans that are availble here (Discovery Wharf) the intake and outflow channels would be left behind and altered with shops, restaurants, homes, a wharf, etc, being built on the edge of them.  All of the shoreline east of the channels would be filled in and developed north to the train tracks for housing, shops and a beach.  These are huge nesting areas and massive spawning habitat to be lost.  If you want to help at the very least, sign the petition here. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/protection-of-the-lakeshore-within-in-the-town-of-wabamun.html.

To view this area, check out this video. The beginning of the video is the current boat launch and dock and that's where they want to build the new marina.  The remainder of the video is exactly where they want the development to take place of the new wharf, all the land as far north as the plant you see and east back to the current dock would then be lost to development.




Saturday, October 2, 2010

Website Updates

2010 has been AlbertaStillwaters.Com's busiest season yet.  This fall has seen many people become a part of the Alberta fly fishers fraternity through my one-on-one fly fishing clinics and the reviews have been overwhelming.  Even with that though, we didn't have any clients booked for this weekend so I thought we should concentrate our efforts on some much needed website updates.  As you can see on the right hand side of my blog, we now have an advertising section for sponsors of our web sites.  If you're interested in advertising with us, we'll give you exposure from our three main sites (AlbertaStillwaters, Doc's Blog & Fly Fishing Edmonton) all for the price of what one site would cost you.  As well, when available, we'll be removing the current ads off the Alberta Fly Fishing Forum and adding our own ads giving you another avenue to reach thousands more fly anglers.

The updates to the Fly Fishing Edmonton site consist of adding google map to all the listed lakes making finding a local fishery even easier.  As well we've added Millers Lake to the list which we've been meaning to do for quite some time.


Also recently added to AlbertaStillwaters.Com, a new page featuring beginner fly casting lessons.  Starting in 2011, we'll now be offering hourly casting lessons starting at $50.00 per hour available to kids 10 years of age and up and adults of any age.

If there is something you would like to see on one of our websites feel free to drop me an email at mike@albertastillwaters.com.  I'll give consideration to all requests.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Backswimmer Bash

In my last post, I embedded some videos to help you get your boatman and backswimmers tied up. I've been tying myself lately and thought I would try a few out at Muir Lake on Monday. I got out on the lake in the late afternoon and fished into the evening. The action was really good. I got to talking to a fellow fly guy (Wayne) before I headed out and we started talking about how Muir has been fishing and he explained how well he had been doing using the Ultimate Boatman. I haven't as of yet tried tying any of these up but have used them in the past. I got a couple from Phil when we shot The New Flyfisher episode on Muir back in 2008 but those are long gone. Wayne was kind enough to give me a couple and they once again proved their effectiveness. The patterns he gave me were white so actually represented a backswimmer as apposed to the the dark shell of the boatman. I first anchored down near the weed edge close to where we install the aerators. I hadn't tied on the ultimate boatman yet as I already set up my rod before Wayne gave me the patterns. I started fishing my own version of a floating backswimmer pattern as the point fly along with a boatman pattern I came up with (still to be named) as the dropper using an intermediate clear sinking line. I was watching large trout rising on the surface right near the tall weeds so I anchored down in about eight feet of water within casting range. I saw what looked like a nice trout rise, it was rolling to the south so I placed my fly about five feet south of it's rise ring and it took the boatman. 1st cast, 18 inch rainbow. I knew this was going to be a fun day, or was it?


I stayed there for another 1/2 an hour without any more hook-ups so I decided to move. I pulled up anchor and made my way through the thick weeds which was not an easy task but using the oars sure beats fins and a float tube. I made my over to my favorite spring spot (Mansion Point) and anchored down again in about 8ft of water and within casting distance of both the tall mid-lake weeds and the shore line. It was a good choice. On my third cast just as my flies hit the water a nice 20 incher slammed them taking the backswimmer. After a fairly laid back fight (trout were a little on the lethargic side) I tied on the white Ultimate Boatman for my point fly and after watching a kazillion #18 brown shelled boatman surfacing for a new bubble, I decided to change my boatman pattern to more resemble the naturals as well. The rest of the evening saw nine more trout to the net. Two were under 17 inches, the rest were between 18 and 20. What a blast, I love this season. It's to bad it has to end with snow and ice.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boatman Time Again

It's that time of year again.  Up north here it starts a little sooner than more southerly water bodies. Last year at this time I wrote a short article on them.  Of course I'm referring to boatman & backswimmers.Good reports of trout being caught at Muir Lake are already coming in using various patterns.  This year I thought I would post some interesting videos to help you get ready for your fall tying and fishing.  Enjoy.


Ultimate Boatman





Backswimmer sucking the fluids of another backswimmer




Water Boatmam Dorsal and Ventral Views



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Smoke On The Water

Joe and I decided on heading out to Dolberg Lake last Thursday.  Joe is a good fishing buddy of mine, you may know Joe as the moderator of my Alberta Fly Fishing Forum (A.K.A Jokey).  We always try and fish together but our schedules don't usually work out that way. Dolberg Lake is a two hour drive from Edmonton not far from the town of Barrhead and is known for producing some nice size rainbow trout and during the spring and fall is also known for decent catch rates.  In the heat of summer however, the fishing can shut down quite often and may not be as productive.  We were hoping this day would not be one of those days.  Joe picked me up at 6am and as I loaded my 'toon into his van, I noticed how humid and foggy it was.  When we got in Joe's van I checked the temperature and it read 15c but it felt like 19 or 20c.  It wasn't until we turned onto highway 33 that I found it odd to still have all this fog in the air and it wasn't until we reached the lake that I clued in and realized that it was smoke in the air and not fog at all.  We set up our boats and tackle and got on the water quickly.  This was Joe's first time to Dolberg and asked what productive areas I've fished before.  I pointed out five decent spots on the lake where I've had success before and since neither of us wanted to fish with 30ft leaders, we headed over to the old inflow. We both immediately got into fish, nothing big but they were biting and eventually I hooked into my biggest of the day at 18 inches.


After some time on the water, Joe and I both wondered if we were close to a forest fire as the smoke got so thick we could barely see the shore line. It wasn't until I got home that that I heard the reports that the smoke was due to BC forest fires out of the Williams Lake area. It was around supper time that I noticed the smoke starting to clear and as the sun started getting lower in the sky, the bugs came out to play.  Caddis, boatman, backswimmers, midges and mayflies all became active.


Joe was catching a ton now but it wasn't until later that he started hooking into bigger ones and eventually beat me with about a 22 incher. He did hook into quite a few decent size bows but he just couldn't keep them on. 


Joe stuck to the leech patterns and continued catching fish and I, like most of the day, kept experimenting with different flies.  I finished the day off fishing dry flies without much luck.  All in all though, a great day on the water with a good friend and many trout caught.  What else could a guy ask for?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Day On The Blackstone

I haven't spent a lot of my fly fishing life on streams.  As a matter of fact, other than the Bow River, the Little Smokey and the NSR, I could probably count on two hands how many times I've fly fished moving water here in Alberta.  This last weekend, I was planning on at least one day to get away from my home stillwaters and head out to some waters I was less familiar with.  Dolberg Lake, Swan Lake, Beaver Lake and Ironside Pond all came to mind.  A couple streams did briefly enter my mind but hey, I'm a stillwater guy and there's nothing I enjoy more than spending a day figuring out and then catching big trout from my boat.  It was during this debate of which water to fish that I received a phone call from one of my fishing buddies.  I don't fish with Garnet near enough, usually once a year and when he called me and asked if I'd like to join him up near Rocky Mountain House I automatically started blurting out the names of the local lakes in the area.  When Garnet mentioned a few streams, I was a little hesitant.  Other than the streams I mentioned above, I've never had a banner day on moving water.  Of course I've never really given them a chance either.  So after a couple days of contemplation, I agreed to hit a stream with Garnet and we decided our short list would include Shunda, Prairie or the Blackstone.

I got an early start and left the city knowing the weather reports called for morning thunderstorms in and around the Rocky Mountain House area.  I packed the pontoon boat into the car just in case the rivers got blown out (and I was almost hoping they did).  About 70km's this side of RMH I did indeed drive through a thunderstorm and wondered how the weather was closer to the mountains.  I called Garnet from my cell to get directions to the gun club he was camped at and after a quick stop in RMH for a packable lunch and some refreshments, I drove to the gun club and met up with him.  We packed my tackle into his truck and headed out, still unsure which stream we would be fishing today.  After some chat in the truck we narrowed it down to Shunda Creek or the Blackstone and made our way towards Nordegg.  We took a look at Shunda and it looked small with a lots of trees and branches to loose flies on so I recommended we hit the Blackstone.  I fished the Blackstone once before with another buddy but things didn't go so well for me that day, not even sure if I caught anything that trip, I don't think I did.  A bit further up from the Blackstone camp ground the road came to an end.  It appears to have been washed out and someone had made a small bridge big enough for ATV's or horses to cross but not a truck.  We thought about hiking down to the river from there but neither of us could remember how far it was.  So we turned around and figured we'd fish upstream of the random camping ground beside the river.  As we got there we saw a Fish & Wildlife truck so we stopped and looked for the fish cops.  They were up the river writing a guy a ticket, not sure what he did but it was good to see some enforcement just the same.  As the young officer made his way back to the truck I stopped him and asked about the washed out road and how far the hike was.  He smiled and said "no need to hike, there's another road that'll take you down" and proceeded to give me directions.  So off we went and it's a dam good thing we didn't try and hike that, it would have been one long walk.

We could have drove right to the gap but instead we decided to park at the closed bridge and fish up to the gap, then hike back to the truck.  As we were gearing up, the two F&W officers showed up again and explained to us how the younger officer was a part of the Streamwatch program and has been writing quite a few tickets since he started.  We offered up our fishing licenses, talked some fishing and then they took off as did we.  We started our day under the bridge and right off the bat, trout were rising to our flies.  They were small but aggressive and we both changed flies to smaller versions of what we had on.  I changed to a size 10 foam hopper and I think garnet changed to a smaller stimulator.  We made our way up the river fishing every good pool and run we could find and hooked into quite a few, nothing big but we were having fun and Garnet caught his first Bull Trout ever and on a dry.  We eventually made our way to a corner pool and it was Garnet's turn.  I was slightly around the corner fishing the water he already fished when he told me there was a cutty rising and that he stung it once but now was going to sit down and have his lunch with hopes it'll start rising again by the time lunch is done.  So I made my way over to Garnet and started eating my lunch as well.  As we were eating we saw some huge mayflies coming off.  Not a prolific hatch by any means but maybe one every couple minutes.  The mayflies were a good inch in length, I didn't see one up close so I'm not sure if they were those big Hex's that has been getting a lot of talk in the last few weeks or they may have been green drakes.  Just as garnet was finishing his lunch, sure enough that cutty started rising again.  Garnet tossed his presentation at it a couple times with no success so I asked him what he had for big mayflies in his box.  He handed me his fly box and I picked out the biggest mayfly I could find.  He tied it on and started casting but no takes.  From my vantage point I could see a large flat rock under the surface and told him it's probably hiding behind it so I explained to Garnet where to cast and as the fly drifted over, bam! fish on.  I'm not sure who was more excited me or Garnet but it was the biggest fish of the day and a very satisfying team effort.

We continued our efforts up stream and came upon what looked like a really good run.  It was my turn so I started casting to what looked like good holding water.  I pointed out a particular seam to garnet and started casting to it and just like it should be, there was a nice cutty sitting there just waiting for my fly.  Another nice size cutthroat and my biggest of the day.  I was really enjoying myself.


We made our way up to the gap and caught a ton more fish on the way.  I added a rocky mountain white fish to my list and Garnet added two more small bulls to his.  The gap has changed since we were both there last, and the cutties were stacked up in there pretty good.  Mostly small ones but we both hooked into a few larger ones as well.  It turned out to be a beautiful day and although we heard thunder, the sun shone all day without a drop of rain.  The gap was fun but it was getting late so we decided to head back.  We only stopped at one run on the hike back and I hooked into a nice cutthroat there.

When we got back to camp, Garnet cooked us up some great steaks and we talked about the fantastic day we had.  I really enjoyed the Blackstone and for sure will be planning a few more trips up that way for more stream fishing.  Big thanks to Garnet for talking me into it and for being such good company.  I think I'll leave the pontoon boat at home next time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Outcast Pontoon Boats & Customer Service

In todays world, we are constantly hearing bad things about company policies when it comes to warranties, guarantees and returned merchandise.  More than likely you can think of more than a couple of times that you feel you were treated unjustly or felt shafted by a company regarding a product.  I can personally think of at least a handful of unpleasant experiences without even producing smoke from my ears.  As a consumer who's got the short end of the stick more than a few times I think I now expect the worst when dealing with damaged products.  I go into situations with the gloves held high ready to come out swinging before I even get a response.  And a lot of times my pessimism is just.  In my last experience however, I was not only pleasantly surprised but almost a little embarrassed with the slightly annoyed tone in the e-mail I had sent.  As I had posted on my blog a few months back, I've been having trouble with some air bladders for my Fishcat 9IR pontoon boat.  My right pontoon had a leak in it.  The punctured bladder was returned to the fishin' hole tackle shop and when the new bladder came in it was picked up and installed.  During a trip to a local Edmonton area lake with Jokey and Tee, the bladder went flat just as I got out on the water due to a seam leak.  That bladder was also returned.  The next new bladder came and it was also installed.  I then took the boat out to Star Lake after work and sure enough it lost air as well.  I found the leak and decided to fix it myself using Aqua Seal as the leak although near the seam was not on the seam.  After fixing it I took the boat out to MIller's Lake and it seemed to be fine.  Then the bladder started loosing air, agian the leak was right on the seam and just FYI, the Aqua Seal worked fine.  At this point I decided instead of taking the bladder back to the fishin' hole again, I would send an e-mail.  I thought about sending the e-mail to Outcast but since the problem was with the bladder and not the boat, I chose to send the e-mail to Aire.  Aire is a pretty big company in it's own right with a ton of products and is owned by Outcast Sporting Gear.  In my e-mail I explained the problems I've been having and the inconvenience the bladders have caused.  Their reply was unexpected, at least by this pessimistic consumer.  They started off by apologizing for the trouble I've had with my aircells and then went on to write "We have a new airecell design with a lapweld on the seam which should eliminate the issues we’ve had in the past.  They are universal bladders so I will send to you four new bladders which would give you spares should any of the others not work properly.  Please forward me the mailing address and going forward please deal with us directly".  The aircells arrived yesterday, and I'm happy to say, no problems with leaking yet.  Of course we'll have to wait and see how the new bladder performs once it's on the water but what a breath of fresh air from the folks at Aire.  I'm very happy to say, I'll stay a loyal customer to Outcast for many years to come and want to say a big thank you to Chris.  I've already sent Chris an e-mail expressing those thoughts.  Customer service is still alive and well folks and there are still companies around that will back it's product.  Now if I can just figure out how to put the bladder in the the pontoon without any twists.  He makes it look so easy in this video.




Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wlidhorse Lakes

Last week was supposed to be filled with sun and fly fishing.  I took a week off of work and the plan was to spend a week in the north fishing stillwaters and tenting at some of our northern campsites.  Mother Nature had her own plan however, a plan to soak Alberta with monsoon type rains.  So instead of heading out on Monday up the Alaskan highway, I altered my plans and headed up to Hinton on Thursday.  It's been far to long since I fished Wlidhorse Lakes and it didn't disappoint.  On the way there, I must have drove through six or seven storm cells, it seamed like they were stacked up one after another.  The last cell I drove through didn't appear all that menacing but was the worst out of the bunch and the only one that produced hail (at least along the Yellowhead Highway) and after I stopped at a rest stop to check for hail damage on the car, I noticed a small funnel cloud poking down.  I tried to get a good pic of the funnel but by the time I got my camera out, it was almost gone.  If you look here in the photo, between the trees and the light post, you may be able to see the tip of the funnel as it's dissipating. Notice the wall cloud to the right where typically funnels/tornadoes would form? (NOTE: You can click on any of the pictures in this post for a full view).

When I got to the park located about 10 minutes past the town of Hinton, I stopped at Kinky Lake which features brook trout and is the first lake in the park.  I took a quick look at the campsites there but I was not overly impressed and wanted to be closer to Wildhorse as I was more interested in catching browns than brookies.  So I drove on to my planned destination and after driving around the campground a few times to find a site that had some shelter, I set up camp and pitched my tent .  Wild horse does have sites specifically for tents but all the sites are the same price at $22.00 and none of them include water or power so I picked a nice big site close to the bathrooms.  After I was all set up and paid my fees, the site caretaker came by with some wood, $5.00 for a bundle or $7.00 for a box full.  It was a tad wet but after splitting it into small kindling it lit up pretty good.  I cooked myself some hot dogs over the fire and then headed down to the lake to have a look.


It's probably been six or more years since I fished Wildhorse and I've heard the water level had gone down but I didn't expect this.  And I thought Muir Lake was down, wow!  I was slightly shocked to see how low it actually was and wondered what affect this would have on the trout as Wildhorse isn't a very deep lake.  Once I got over the initial shock, the scenery then reversed that shock into a calming awe.  What a beautiful place to catch some trout.  I didn't set up the 'toon that evening but did string up a rod and cast from shore.  No luck, hmmm wonder how this will play out tomorrow?


I woke up a few times during the night, once to some rain pouring down on the tent and then again when I thought I heard some sniffing and maybe a grunt or two.  As with camping in any area known for Bears, I put all my food in my car and had nothing in my tent to attract any large hungry animals.  And no, I didn't get out of the tent to investigate, I just slipped off back to sleep.  When I woke up, it was a bright sunny yet cool morning.  I made myself some breakfast, and headed to the lake.  After I setup the pontoon boat and watched the water for about 5 minutes looking for active trout, I decided on my spot and headed out.  I decided to fish two flies under an indicator and started off with a grizzly caddis emerger on the point and a redd october bloodworm as the dropper fishing in about 10ft of water.  I chose the caddis pattern because of the the large caddis hatch I seen the night before.  The redd october is my goto fly so that was a no brainer.  Would you believe on my first cast I hooked into a 21 inch rainbow?  And you know when you do something like that, one of two things are gonna happen.  It's either gonna be a banner day or that's the only fish you'll catch for the rest of the day.  I'm happy to say, it was a fish a cast, almost all day.  Although only three big trout were caught, this years stockers and last years stockers were very active and loved both patterns I had on.  Now usually I'd not be happy catching stockers all day but I really didn't mind as these were the hardest fighting trout I think I've ever caught.  Not sure if it's the cold mountain lake or what but man did these trout (stockers or not) put up an impressive fight. One 17 inch rainbow even bent my hook on my redd october pattern.  I finally got off the lake at about 3:30pm as the weather was getting bad and I heard thunder (that's my sign to get going).


The showers came and went 'til about 6pm.  In the mean time I had cooked up some supper and now it was time to head back out.  The rest of the evening went the same way and I finally started getting bored so I changed up presentation just to make it more of a challenge.  I went to a clear intermediate sinking line with an unweighted crystal bugger and caught a few on it.  Then tried a boobie with marginal success and finally changed up to a floating line and a stimulator casting to risers and had a handful of takes on that.  Off the water at 9:45pm and spent the rest of my waking time staring into a roaring camp fire.

Morning broke and the wind was howling, rushing through the mountains in these loud waves.  I packed up camp and headed out straight to Miller's lake just west of Edson.  When I got there I talked with a few guys (one of which is a customer of mine) and very few fish were being caught.  It was breezy out but manageable as the wind came and went throughout the afternoon.  I tried many different tactics on this day but only hooked up with five stockers.  It wasn't until I was ready to leave that I decided to throw on a stimulator and cast to a trout that has been picking off top water insects (midges and caddis from what I could see).  I anchored down within casting distance to where I seen him continually rising.  I waited for him to rise again and cast my presentation next to his rise rings and within a second I hooked into a beautiful, silver, 20 inch rainbow.  I ended my day on that.

Only fished for two full days out of the five that I had planned but I enjoyed every minute.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Miller's Time

Another Canada Day come and gone.  I had to work the day again this year but took in some fireworks in the evening.  Most years, the family heads down to the river valley to check out the fireworks and the huge man made waterfall coming off the highlevel bridge.  This year however, we decided to go somewhere else to celebrate and I think we've found ourselves a new Canada Day tradition.  The Garison Army Base decided this year to open up its gates to the general public.  Now we didn't get to see all the great things going on throughout the day which were many from what I hear but we did catch the headlining band, Jefferson Starship from 9:30pm - 11:00pm.  Even my 11 year old daughter enjoyed this outdoor classic rock concert (which is saying a lot since it's probably the farthest thing from Justin Beaber there is) and to top it off the fireworks were way more than we expected.  I even got to witness two styles of fireworks I had never seen anywhere before.  We really had a great time and the folks that put it together did an awesome job especially considering it was their first year.  We're definitely going back next July1st.  Which reminds me, happy Independence Day to all my American brothers and sisters out there and a big happy birthday to my wife Sharmaine who also celebrates her birthday on July 4th.

On Wednesday June 30, I wanted to head out to Millers in hopes of hooking into a brown trout.  I heard there were still a few kicking around in there and since it's been a long time since I both caught a brown and fished Millers Lake, I fueled up and away I went.  Before I made my mind up however, I checked the weather report and the Edmonton area report said there was a good chance of thunderstorms with wind at 25km/h with gust up to 35km/hr in the afternoon.  Then I though about Millers and the Edson report read 60% chance of showers with winds at 20km/h.  Since I can deal with rain but hate wind, I made my mind up in a hurry.  The drive there was looking pretty good at least up to Niton Junction.  From that point on all I saw was cell after cell of bad weather.  But I was persistent.  When I finally got to Edson, I witnessed some of the ugliest clouds I had ever seen.  Things were not looking good.  When I pulled into the lake the rain was coming down hard with a soft type of hail mixed in (sleet maybe?) and one guy tightening up the straps on his boat and trailer.  I sat in the car for about 20mins, watched the fellow leave and watched the rain and hail pound down onto my windshield.  When the rain finally turned to a light shower I started setting up my pontoon boat.  I've been having problems with the seams along the right pontoon bladder.  I finally decided to fix this one myself using Auqa Seal instead of sending it back again.  I wanted to see how well my patch job worked.  It looked like it was going to be a great day after all, the sun started shining and just a good chironomid chop on the water.  Then that all changed.  The wind all of a sudden picked up out of nowhere and I was choked, it was strong enough that I feared if I stray to far from the boat launch, I may not get back to it.  And of course there's that patch job making me think, "what if I need to get back in a hurry?"  But I was determined and headed out anyway.  I stayed pretty close to the launch, anchored down with both my front and back anchors (thank God I remembered both as I needed them) and with my second cast using a clear intermediate sinking line and an olive wooly bugger hooked into a nice 18 inch rainbow that jetted clean out of the water about 4ft above the surface and put up a great fight.  Fished for another 45 mins without any other action and then noticed a big thunderstorm cell moving in my direction with lightening and decided to get into shore and wait it out.  When the cell blew over, I made my way out again and got a little farther from the launch with the wind still pushing hard and got into another two, one at 16 inches and one at 19.  Both of these were caught on a sparkle caddis as I observed cinnamon caddis emerging on the water and switched over to my floating line before I headed out again.  About 30 mins after the 19 incher was caught the wind dropped down to about 25km/hr and I decided to head over to the south shore but when I went to pull the anchor I noticed my right pontoon was low.  Ah hell, looks like the patch job didn't take.  Back into shore.  After some investigating, I noticed the leak was not coming from my patch job but rather the seam on the underside of the bladder.  At this point, I was not a happy camper but the wind was letting up and I could still cast from the launch as I was the only person at the lake.  So I grabbed my Sage with the clear sink line and the olive wooly bugger again and started to cast.  Wouldn't you know it but I hooked into a 23 inch rainbow.  She put a great fight with one fantastic leap and line screaming out of my reel.  After I got her in and took a couple pics, I thought "it ain't gonna get much better than this, might as well leave on a good note".  So I packed up and headed home.  Nope, no browns but that lake has left me wanting more for sure.  I won't be so long in getting back there next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day

With the exception of some unwanted snow, it started off as a pretty decent spring. Of course we Alberta folks should be used to snow in May, we get it pretty much every year. Not sure why it's always such a surprises to us when it comes but once again... Surprise!. What was nice though was all the rain we got. The talk before the rains got here was another year of drought, maybe the worst we've seen in a hundred years. And the lakes around these parts needed rain and bad. Although we got our fair share, it was a mere drop in the proverbial bucket. Lakes are still way down but just imagine what shape they would be in now without all that rain. So the rain made me feel somewhat at ease. Then that ease turned to panic. Seven years ago, my wife and I had our house built on the North side of Edmonton. We watched as our house went through the stages from an empty lot to it's completion. Along the way, after the foundation was poured, I noticed they had an opening for a window in one of the downstairs bedrooms right where the cement steps were to go out of our kitchen. I quickly pointed this out to Pat (Lupa homes) and he had them cut a new window into the foundation around the corner. They took the slab from the newly cut opening and filled in the misplaced opening. After that they slapped on the window well, threw in some gravel and everything was good, right? Wrong! I just found out they forgot (or were to cheap) to put weeping tile from the window well down. How did I find out? The water had made it's way into my oldest daughter's room under the window jamb, down the foundation wall, along the floor through the bathroom and into my youngest daughter's room where it pooled under her bed until it made it's way out into the downstairs living room. If you're wondering, my insurance does not cover this (*Note: neither does yours). If it was caused by sewer back up, the hot water tank or even the sump pump, we'd be covered. But because water from outside found it's way through the foundation, no coverage. So what's the damage? New dry wall and paint, new carpet, new beds, new dressers, the loss of stuffed animals and toys, the cost of weeping tile in the window well (no quote on that yet) and the cost of a huge garbage bin in the drive way. I also lost three new fly fsihing customers (although I hope they will book in the future) due to the countless hours of getting out everything wet before the mold takes over. So in case you're wondering why no blogging lately, now you know.

I did get out with a client right before the flood. Tom was in town from Detroit on business and wanted to spend the day going after stillwater trout.
Wasn't a banner day but the action was ok. We headed out to Muir and he ended up catching a few good ones and seemed to really enjoy the relaxing methods of fishing chironomids and balance leeches under an indicator. I actually didn't have any balance leeches on me so Emerson ended up lending me a couple. Emerson was doing well hooking into them, not so well keeping them on however (been there). This trip was actually my first guided trip of the year as all my clients up to this point have booked my introductory clinics. I actually prefer the clinics as I find it much more rewarding but it is nice to mix things up. I'm now looking forward to a nice relaxing day on the water to celebrate father day. Hope you all have a great Fathers Day, maybe take the old man fishing eh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Day At Muir

On Thursday, I finally took a day just for myself to go out and enjoy a day at Muir Lake.  It was a little cool outside and although mostly a misty, drizzly type day in the city, I don't think I got a drop of rain on me while on the water.  If you are wondering at all if Muir has been stocked yet, the answer is a most definite; yes.  The pesky little buggers wouldn't leave my flies a lone, I must have caught a kajillion of them.  I tried fishing in three spots on the lake, near the dock (nothing), the narrows (just stockers) and then my favorite spring time spot (which wasn't so hot last spring) known from this day forward as mansion point.  Oh I did well there.  If your definition of "well" is a bazillion 5-6 inch stockers and one 18 incher.

 Caught this one on a Red October bloodworm but then switched up to a wooly bugger to try and keep the stockers off.  Then switched up to a bigger wooly bugger and finally just gave up.  Those little dinks were some hungry, eating flies almost big enough to eat them.  All in all though, how can a guy complain, I could have been working.  I have to admit though that I'm quite concerned about Muir's water level.  Just click this photo and take a look.

When we stocked Muir in 2003, the water level was well into the cattails and reeds you see here and the green vegetation was all underwater. It's easy to see just how far the lake has dropped and with Muir's already shallow depth and warm water temperatures during the heat of summer, I'd say there is a very good chance of seeing a summer kill this year.  Let's all hope for the best.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Season Underway

Next week is the start of a new season for me.  Clients are booking up fast and I've been busy tying up flies and getting equipment ready.  Although the lakes have really dropped this year, I'm hoping to have some good fishing and hope the same for my clients.  I've added another pontoon boat to my arsenal and lots of new terminal tackle.  Just recently, I finally took the plunge and got a few pages on facebook.  My personal page, the Fly Fishing Alberta page and my AlbertaStillwaters.Com page.  Drop by for some interesting articles and posts.  I've also revamped my Float Tube page on my information site Fly Fishing Edmonton.  I gave it some much needed updates, more tips and added an accessories section.  If you're looking to buy a float tube this year or to learn how to use the one you have, check it out for some great information.  And if you're looking for a one-on-one introduction to stillwater fly fishing clinic, feel free to drop me a line at mike@albertastillwaters.com.  Hope to see you on the water.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pimpin' Your 'Toon

With the warm weather arriving, the excitement of getting out for your first trip of the year is always at the front of your mind. Up here in north-central Alberta however, the lakes are still locked in ice. So not much to do but tie some flies and get your equipment ready. Or you could try Pimpin' Your 'Toon. There are many pontoon accessories available at your local tackle shop that will make your day on the water a little more simplistic and enjoyable. But what do you do if money's a little tight or you can't find exactly what it is that you envision? For the handy guy, why not just build it? While recently visiting the Alberta Outdoorsman fishing forum, I came across Badger's pimped out pontoon boat. Most of it he built with his own hands and out of his own imagination. Check out his ride here and let me know of some pimpin' accessories you've added to your 'toon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

All Good Things Must Come To An End

If you've never lived in Edmonton, you wouldn't know what we as fly anglers go through every winter. Living here in the summer means you're either a stillwater fly guy or you spend a lot of time behind the wheel looking for a likely place to dab a fly on some moving water. We're not blessed with near by streams or rivers that hold trout. We do have the the North Saskatchewan River running through our city that offers up a variety of game fish like Walleye, Pike, Sauger, Goldeye and Mooneye and I have to admit, this river is highly underutilized but down this way, it doesn't hold trout. So yah, we got it a little tough here in the summer but we get by and we are blessed with some of the most fertile stillwater fisheries anywhere in the country. The winters here however make it really tough. Three hours south of us, the fly guys in Calgary have the opportunity to shake off the winter shack nasties whenever a Chinook rolls through town as the Bow River remains open all year offering up trophy Rainbows and Browns. In Edmonton, our salvation during our six months locked in ice and snow came in the form of a trophy Pike lake. Lake Wabamun not only offers up really big Pike but because of TransAlta's coal burning power plant, also gave us open water when all other waters are frozen over. The plant would draw in cold water from the lake to cool down the generators and push the warm water back into the lake via a man made channel. For years, anglers with the need to wet a line could head out to the lake at the mouth of this warm water discharge with expectations of good catch rates and bigger than average Northern Pike. This year that all changes as TransAlta is shutting down the last remaining generator by the end of March. So, what the hell are we gonna do now?


On Thursday March 25, 2010, Garnet, Joe and I headed out to Wabamun for what would be our last open water, winter/early spring fly fishing trip. We were happy to see the water was open right to the boat launch as our previous trip a couple weeks before had us dragging our pontoon boats across the ice to the open water at the end of the peer. The forecast high for this day was +8c with the wind diminishing to a calm breeze by afternoon. With a forecast like that we were hopeful that top water flies would entice some strikes as calm water helps the pike see your top water presentation better. We all got into Pike right away, with some good size wolfs being caught but none of us could hook up with a 40+ incher. It was an on and off again day and we found that changing up flies brought better results. We all tried a variety of flies, at first I did well with an orange and green half & half but then had to change to a white and purple Popsicle leech to see more action. The Popsicle leech was definitely my hot fly for the day as I took eight pike on it. The top water flies didn't hook up any fish although Joe did get one follow but it turned away at the last second. Final tally for the day... Garnet five, Joe 14 and 15 for myself. A great day to the end of an era. I'll still be fishing Wab for many years to come, but I'm gonna miss this lake when the shack nasties set in. Guess we'll be watching the Calgary weather forecasts a little more closely and crossing our fingers for those Chinooks.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fortress Lake Resort

Just caught the new video from Dave and Amelia Jenson. What a beautiful place to catch trophy brookies. I've never had the pleasure of fishing Fortress myself, just not in the budget. Hopefully someday. For now I'll live vicariously through others that have videos like this. Great job from the two of them, I hope to see more videos like this.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Say Goodbye To Winter Wab Pike On The Fly

The slightly warmer temps we've been getting the last few days has got me to thinking about Pike on the fly. Every spring and fall I usually head out to Lake Wabamun in search of some monster Pike. It is possible to find these huge northerns in the winter as well due to the warm water discharge that's released via the power plant. This winter will be the last for open-water fishing however as they plan to shut down the last remaining generator. Taken from their website at http://www.transalta.com/facilities/plants-operation/wabamun "TransAlta plans to stop operating the Wabamun power plant in four phases with the final shut-down of Unit 4 slated for March 2010. Until then, the plant will continue to be an important source of low-cost power for Albertans." I'm pretty sure you'll still find those big females hanging out there for a while yet as they are probably pretty used to this area being one of their favorite grocery stores. Eventually though and depending on what they do with the channel, this will be just like any other area for the Pike to bask in the spring sun. If you've never fly fished for Pike and want to give it go before the Lake is closed to spawning, bring along some long needle nose pliers, jaw spreaders, a big net or cradle if got if you one, an eight or nine weight rod and reel spooled with matching line. You'll also want some big flies (4-8 inches), waders, boots and some warm clothing. Also don't forget your camera. Although it is considered trespassing, I don't know anyone that has been ticketed for fishing here, just stay out of the fenced off area. When you enter town, turn right at the stop sign before the tracks and follow the road to just before the first bridge. This is the discharge channel. Park at the gate that is closed where the train tracks are and follow the path along the fence. Although most of our local lakes are too muddy to wade fish, at the end of the channel you can indeed wade where the channel opens up to the lake. Your best presentation is to cast upstream with a strip-pause-strip retrieve after letting the fly sink a bit. Heavily weighted flies on a dry line and a six to eight foot pike leader or a 20lb mono leader with Rio's wire tippet will do you well. My favorite streamer to fish here is a white Popsicle leech but you'll also have good results with deceivers, clousers and Half & Half's (1/2 clouser, 1/2 deceiver). If you do head out and you find yourself there on a windless day, try some top water poppers and sliders too. This is my favorite way to take pike on the fly but is usually nowhere near as productive as sub-surface flies. Here's a video to show you what kind of fun you can have on top water flies.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marc Petitjean's MP Thread Through Bobbin

You may have heard of Marc Petitjean. In these parts he's pretty famous for his Magic Tool and his Magic Heads. I've used the Magic Tool and it really is a great tool to use for tying flies, I've personally found this tool to be remarkable especially when working with CDC. In my last post, I let you know about a wonderful website that features mostly fly tying videos and while searching through some videos on The Fly Tying Channel, I came upon a great video showing a new Marc Petijean Bobbin. I'm gonna see if I can source one of these out and give it a go, it looks to be very innovative.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tying Videos

There are tons of videos out there featuring fly tying. If you're anything like me, you can spend hours upon hours searching the web for different patterns. Of course you tube is a great place to find such videos but you have to be specific for the pattern you're looking for or you may end up watching videos other than fly tying. I just found this site however, it is mostly just fly tying videos so it's easy to search around. 235 videos and still adding as I write this. Check it out here... http://flytyingchannel.vodspot.tv/

Their latest video is the RS2 Sparkle Wing

RS2 Sparkle Wing from Juan Ramirez on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010

Wow, 2010 already. Time just keeps moving faster and faster. I have one daughter who`s turning 20 in February and another that just turned 11. Seams like yesterday they were learning to walk and talk. Hell, seams like yesterday I was playing cops and robbers with my childhood friend Gary Reynolds or going fishing with my dad in his 12ft aluminum car topper. And 2009 blew by way to fast, never did get up north to Swan Lake like I promised myself or to the Little Smokey River last fall. We did however see some positive things happen like the new Wholesale Sports store open on the south side of Edmonton featuring a fanstastic fly fishing department. The Northern Lights Fly Tyers and Fishers Club merged with the Edmonton Chapter of Trout Unlimited opening a door for a whole new world of fund-raising and conservation projects. The new Northern Lights chapter of Trout Unlimited brought in Dave and Emily Whitlock on April 25 & 26 for a fly fishing presentation and then an intermediate fly tying presentation on November 21 with Leroy Hyatt, the popular PBS TV show host of Anglers Art. And we saw a new stillwater fly rod appear on the scene. The Amundson "Wind Warrior" which I can`t say enough about. It`s a high end rod with a mid level price and it shoots line like a canon. But there were some negatives in 2009 also. The biggest one for the Edmonton area was the lack of precipitation. We needed rain and bad but didn't get anywhere near enough. All the local lakes around Edmonton are very low and need a real good topping up. None as much as our pride and joy however, Muir Lake. Muir is not deep to begin with and if these low water levels continue over the 2010 season, our trout will be in for some trouble. A lot of volunteers have put a lot of time and effort into making Muir the great fishery it is is but Mother Nature may have other plans. When we fist stocked Muir, you could sit on the end of the dock and just get the tips of your toes wet. Now, the supporting barrels under the dock aren't even in the water. Let`s hope for a real wet summer this year.

So what does 2010 have in store for us? If I could tell you that, I`d be picking up more than a few cheques from the Lotto649 office. I can tell you that NL/TU are presenting a Gary Borger / Mike Lawson fly fishing seminar on Saturday & Sunday, Jan. 16th & 17th at the main campus of Grant McEwan University. Tickets are $50.00 for the two days. Go to the Northern Lights / TU website for more information. Also coming up is the 2010 Western Canadian Fly Fishing Exposition in Calgary. The exposition runs from Jan 22 - Jan 24 at Spruce Meadows. You can expect some big names in fly fishing there with many workshops to choose from, some of them free. And of course 2010 will see my online fly shop start up with good quality products at affordable prices.

I hope you have a great 2010 and I hope to see you on the water.
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