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.