On June 21st, I took some vacation time and headed up to northern Alberta's Swan Lake. My original plans of hitting the trophy lakes of Manitoba's Parkland Region fell through but I was happy to revisit some old stomping grounds in the Peace River Region.
I got to the lake around noon and set up camp. After pitching my tent I went looking for the pay box and after inquiring about it's location with my neighbors, I was pleasantly surprises to find out the camp sites were free. I had never camped at Swan before, only fished it and the sites aren't many nor are they all that pretty but free works for me. It was a windy first day but by the time evening fell, the wind died down and all was peaceful on this great fishery. That evening on the water saw lots of trout in my net but as with many fishing stories, the big ones got away. I was a little surprised to see the blue-green algae bloom so thick this early in the season, to compensate, I rigged up an olive wooly bugger with a BA Bloodworm on the point fished a foot off the bottom. For algae to flourish, it needs sunlight and plenty of it so it usually won't be found more than 10ft down from the surface. Getting my presentation below the 10ft mark proved to be successful. The two guys camped beside me were also fly fishermen from Edmonton and we spent some time on the water chatting. I helped out one of them in showing some chironomid techniques and then I ended the night fishing caddis dry flies near the boat launch and hooking up with a few risers.
|Doc's BA (Big Ass) Bloodworm|
Day two was hot, damn hot! I was on the lake early after a couple of campsite-made egg mcmuffins and a couple cups of instant coffee. I did well fishing in the center of the lake this time with a white beadhead Snow Cone chironomid as the dropper and a Red October bloodworm on the point fished in 15ft of water. I did get some 20+ inch trout to the net but again the big one got away and took my bloodworm with it. The algae bloom was thicker today and getting thicker by the minute. By the the time I got off the water at 1pm, the algae was starting to mat on the shore lines. To escape the heat, I took a drive into Valleyview with the air conditioning cranked and picked up some ice for the cooler and some sunblock. When I got back to camp, I decided it was still too hot to fish so I took a nap in the tent. I got back on the water at about 6:30pm and fought a strong wind while I worked my way over to the east side of the lake to find some shelter from the trees. The algae bloom was pretty intense so I looked for water deeper than 10ft. I finally found a spot that was 11ft and dropped my chironomid rig in the water. Success was quick and the trout were big. I got a 22 incher to the net and quite a few just under that mark but also lost a few bigger ones. The action finally slowed down near sunset so I drifted with the strong wind casting a black bead head wooly bugger on a clear intermediate sinking line. I landed another four on the way back to the launch.
Day three was not as much fun. I drove out to East Dollar hoping to hook into a few browns but the weather was not cooperating. After I set up the pontoon I got about a half hour worth of fishing in before the lightening forced me off. In that short time, I had to switch from a chironomid rig to a wooly bugger as the stockers wouldn't leave my chironomids alone. They wouldn't even let the flies sink before attacking them. Once off the water, I waited in my car for the thunderstorm to roll over. Two hours later I got back out on the water and again it was stocker after stocker. The action didn't last long however as the lightening was back and I left for cover again. After the heavy downpour was done I walked up to the highway to take a look at what was coming next. It appeared the thunderstorms were stacked up one after another with some very low cloud formations. Not quite funnel clouds but could have easily manifested into one with the rotation I could see in these storms. I decided I would head back to Swan and hopefully some better weather. After packing up and heading out onto the highway, I searched for a weather report on the radio and finally found one. A rainfall advisory for the Peace River Region including Valleyview and Grand Prairie. Great! As I got closer to Valleyview I could still see lightening but the cloud formations couldn't be made out anymore, it was just grey and dark with heavy monsoon type rains. It was so dark, the street lights were on when I entered Valleyview. I finally got back to Swan, not easy on those dirt roads and I thought I might end up in the ditch a few times as the car got pulled left and right with the soft, wet gravel. Once back at Swan, I sat in my car for a few minutes, staring at my soaked tent while the rain pounded down and I made my decision. I packed everything up as quickly as I could and got my wet butt out of there. They ended up with 70mm of rain in two days, kinda makes our 100mm for the month of June look like a sprinkle don't it?