Saturday 6 July 2019

Maybe My Last Fishing Day of '19

So here I was in a sling on the Saturday of the July long weekend. I was trying to free my mother's wheel chair from the back seat of my sister's car when suddenly I felt a pop just below by bicep. Found out later I tore my tendon and as I write this, I still haven't gotten in for the ultra sound to determine how bad it is. The reason I'm telling you this is because it's my casting arm. I can cast pretty decent with my left arm but that still doesn't help in playing or netting the fish. So, I thought I would post about the last time I went fishing.

I was just getting home from work on June 25 when I got a call from my buddy Joe. Asked if I'd like to join him in his (new to him) jon boat I recently sold him. In reality, he forgot his battery at home and I live not even 10 minutes away from Muir Lake so I figured if I'm gonna lend him my battery, he might as well take me fishing.

If you haven't been to Muir lately, the water is up and the lake is looking good. All this rain has done wonders as I'm sure it has for many of the small pothole lakes. The fishing however, from the reports I've been hearing has not been so good. Although I heard that last year too. The secret to this lake is targeting mid lake weed beds. Because of the browns, I'm almost guaranteed a fish or two hanging a leech pattern in amongst the weeds. As a bonus, some big rainbows also like to hang out in the weeds too. I caught three large trout that day, 20" brown, 22" rainbow and this 23" rainbow. All on a small black balanced leeche hung under an indicator.

Now I'm not saying you're going to catch a lot of fish everytime you cast your presentation into weeds, there's more to it than that. Obviously your technique and presentation has a lot to do with your success. What insects you see on the water can help with your fly choice and choosing to fish where active fish are cruising is always a smart choice. But also the time of day can be a determining factor. These trout were all caught after 6pm when the air and water temperature starts to drop. Where in the water column are the trout feeding, closer to the top or hanging near the bottom? How much movement are you placing on your fly if any? Of course constant experimentation while you're on the water is usually the only way to unlock these stillwater mysteries.

This particular day was especially important to me for a couple of reasons. As I stated above, I tore my tendon in my casting arm and I'm not yet sure how bad it is and if I'll need surgery. That being said, this may have been my last fishing day of 2019. But there is another reason too. I took a trip down to Montana in mid-June to check some things off my bucket list. One being to fish the Missouri River and the other was to fish the Big Blackfoot River. The Blackfoot is the river made famous in the movie A River Runs Through It. Although I enjoyed every minute of Montana and had a great time, Frank and I didn't do so well in the landing or netting department. We did hook into a good number of fish but in the four days we were there, only one whitefish was netted and being a stillwater guy, the Muir Lake evening was redemption for the skunking I took in Montana.

I'll leave you with a few photos I took in Montana.

Big Sky Country

The Missouri River

The Big Blackfoot River

Momma leapt out and left this beautiful fawn behind

Thursday 23 May 2019

Just a heads up for all the Moms & Dads out there.  Here are all the Kids Can Catch Events coming up in Alberta.

If you are not familiar with these events, each year, multiple Kids Can Catch events are held across the province. Volunteers are on-hand to help teach new anglers the proper ways to bait a hook, where to drop a line, and what to do once a fish has been caught.

Interested in helping make Kids Can Catch a success in the communities where you do business? There are many ways to get involved from employee volunteering to sponsorship. Contact Sheila Campbell at 780-410-1979 or

For more info, visit the Kids Can Catch page here...

Monday 13 May 2019

Went For A Quicky :)

Finished work today and jetted home. It was 21c when I left and such a nice day I figured it was time to get the boat on the water, even if just for a couple hours. After ensuring I had everything I needed (or so I thought), I hooked up the boat and away I went. I pulled into the parking lot and started preparing the boat for launching when I realized, I forgot the depth finder. Oh well, I know Muir Lake pretty well and I fished for years at that lake without a finder so I wasn't going to let that stop me.

I steered the boat to the south end of the lake taking notice of the plentiful amount of chironomids on the surface of the water and anchored down in about 14ft of water after seeing some trout activity in the area. I noticed all different sizes of chironomid pupa and adults including some bombers so I set-up my rod using my usual set-up when I'm seeing chironomid activity or when I'm not sure what the trout are feeding on. This static presentation setup includes a long tapered leader, an indicator and either two chironomids or a leech patter and chironomid combo. I decided my first fly would be small olive leech pattern and the point fly, my Big Ass Bloodworm patter.  It was 6:30 PM before I made my first cast. As usual, I set my point fly one foot off the bottom and after about 4 casts, I'll pull my rig up and secure the indictor one foot closer to the flies. The wind was whipping up pretty good and probably offered a little to much action on the flies so using the boat as a wind break, I kept my presentation only about 10-15ft from the boat. It was about 30 minutes in when I got the take. It was aggressive
and the indicator went down with purpose.

She took the bloodworm pattern and as I was fighting her and trying to get her on my reel, I looked down in the boat and realized, I forgot my net. It all worked out however, I was careful to remove the hook after hand landing her. I picked it up for this quick photo and released her back to her lair. If you're not familiar with Muir Lake, the regulation stipulates, you may keep one trout per day over 20 inches, all trout sizes 20 inches and under must be released back into the lake. In all honesty, from my experience fishing local pothole lakes for the last 42 years, anything over 14" tastes muddy anyway so you may as well release them, even on the lakes where you can keep 5.

I headed over to the north side and fished by the dock until 8:30 PM. I don't have to check the stocking report to tell you Muir has already been recently stocked. I caught a bunch of them and they look to be about 5 or 6 six inches. Fun couple hours anyway, nice to get the boat wet.

Sunday 5 May 2019

First Venture Of 2019

 It's been a really long time since my last blog post. I'm not even sure people still blog, do they? Well, I'll start my first fishing venture of 2019 with how things went at Salters Lake.

I started the day off, arriving to the water at about 9:30 am. When I left my house the temp was 0c and when I got to the lake it had risen to +2c. I finished setting up my first rod with a two chironomid/indicator set-up. Then I went to the truck and warmed up. Back outside and set up a washing line using a weighted leech pattern with a size 16 boatman on the point. Then I went in the truck and warmed up again.

After I pieced together my smaller pontoon boat (the IR9 has a bladder leak and the Cougar takes longer to set up), I went back in the truck for one more blast of heat, then I headed out on the water, it was around 10:30 am.

On May 17th I turn 52 years old. They say age is just number but I’ll challenge “they” because as I sat there in my truck staring out at the lake, warming up for the 2nd time before I embarked on my first fishing adventure of the year, I came to the realization that I am no longer a 'hard core' fly fisherman. Yes, I’ve gone soft. I so wished it was +21c with the sun shining on my face. I even thought about packing up the rods and going back home.

The wind was pushing over 20km/hr, the water was about +6c and air temp did eventually reach +10c but that wasn't until home time. The water was stained, almost a tea color and the lake had recently been stocked with little 6 inchers just days before which is known to put down bigger trout in the lake. I know I should have spent more time changing flies and moving around the lake looking for active trout but I didn't. My buddy Joe did hook into one decent size trout but other than that nothing over 6 inches was caught. Did I mention it was cold?

Sunday 15 June 2014

Draggin' Foam

With some unbelievable chironomid hatches coming off this time of year, the dragonfly hatches often get overlooked. June is prime time for dragonflies to migrate from water to land and for the fly angler, that can mean a day spent with constant action. There are hundreds of dragonfly patterns out there but in most recent years, tiers have been using foam as a way to suspend their patterns off the bottom, giving these patterns the needed buoyancy to hover above weeds and bottom debris. A favorite tactic of mine during late spring, is to use a type 5 sinking line and tying on a damselfly nymph (taking advantage of the damselfly migration also taking place) about four feet from the fly line, then a foam dragonfly pattern on the point, three feet from from the damselfly.
This is usually the first set-up I'll go with, an experiment if you will, on which pattern is getting more attention. If the damselfly is taking the most trout, I'll change to a two fly damselfly set-up but if the dragonfly is drawing more attention then I'll generally change the set-up and replace the damselfly with a dragonfly sprawler and keep the foam darter on the point. Of course if I'm being lazy, I may just keep the damselfly on even if it's not catching (which tends to happen). The idea here is to set yourself up on the shoal, casting beyond the drop-off and stripping your presentation up the drop-off onto the shoal and getting your patterns as close to the bottom as possible. For shallower lakes that don't offer the drop-off transition, casting into deeper water and stripping your presentation up into shallow water using an intermediate sinking line also works well. Give it try, when the trout are hungry the action is awesome.

Here are some dragonfly nymph patterns you can tie up.

Fly Craft Angling
(Foam Sprawler)

Thursday 13 February 2014

Review - NuCast Mitten Scissor Clamp

For the most part, we're all gadget junkies. There are always new fly fishing things coming out each year that are supposed to make it easier for us and without much thought, we tend to buy into them. But what tools and gadgets are your most important? Think about it, what tools do you reach for the most when out on the water? Your nippers and hemostats are probably the two tools a fly anger uses the most when out fishing, so when I received my new scissor clamps from Pro Guide Direct, I was happy to see an old friend with new features. The NuCast mitten scissor clamp not only incorporated both tools into one functional tool but also improved upon it. The handles don't have any loops making it easy to grab and release by simply squeezing the tool, perfect for cold weather when gloves or mittens are needed (as I found out on a recent winter trip to the Bow River) and the foam handle makes sure you don't loose your grip, even when wet. They've also added an eye cleaning pin built right into the handle for clearing away the eyes of your flies where you've added a little to much head cement. Unlike conventional hemostats, NuCast improved the clamp using a click-lock design which made it super easy to quickly open the jaws and clamp down on your fly and the grooved combo tip made quick work when removing flies, pinching down barbs or attaching a split shot. The micro-serrated scissors are super sharp and made to last a long time which could replace your nippers or if you're like me, those $2.00 nail clippers that dull quickly. On top of all that, NuCast's scissor clamps are eye candy, the multi-coloured stainless steel will ensure these look great hanging from any fly vest. Yup, there's lots of new gadgets out there but every once in a while you get lucky and find something old that's been re-invented to make it new once again. Nice job NuCast.
For more on these and other NuCast products, vist my Pro Guide Direct Gear List here.

Monday 13 January 2014

Upcoming Events For '14

Another new year, another season to look forward to new gadgets, new equipment and new adventures. Up here in North-Central Alberta, January is still a long way away from open water on our stillwater fisheries as we don't usually see ice off 'til May and the streams won't legally open until mid June. There are some upcoming events however that will, A) help give the obsessed a taste of what could be and, B) tease us enough to force our withdrawal into full swing.
Here are some of the upcoming events Albertans can look forward to.

Jan 18 & 19, The Northern Lights Fly Tyers / TU Edmonton are presenting a two day seminar featuring Todd Oishi and April Vokey at Grant McEwan University in Edmonton.

Tickets are $65 for both days or $40 for one day. Click the pic for more information.

Jan 20 from 6pm-9pm, The Fishin' Hole is presenting a three hour fly tying class with April Vokey. April will instruct you on tying Steelhead flies, intruder variations and tube fly basics. Class takes place at the West-end Fishin Hole in Edmonton and tickets are $50 but you'll have to hurry as there aren't many left. Click April's photo for more information.

Jan 24-26 the Western Canadian Fly Fishing Exposition is in Calgary at the Spruce Meadows Equiplex. You'll have the opportunity to take in workshops from some of the biggest names in fly fishing. Free presentations, casting and tying demonstrations will also be available as well they'll have over 100 exhibitor booths. Drop by the Superfly booth and say hi to Joe and myself. Click below for more information.

The International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4).

The dates set so far for Alberta include Jan 24 & 25 in Calgary at the Cardel Theatre and Feb 21 in Lethbridge at the DA Electric Barn. These compilations of fly fishing videos will really want to make you wet a line and include some outstanding cinematography. For more information on tickets click the link.

IF4 2014 - Tickets On Sale Now! from IF4 on Vimeo.

Monday 23 September 2013

Conquering Chironomids - Volume 1 DVD

I recently acquired a copy of the new DVD by Phil Rowley & Brian Chan entitled "Conquering Chironomids Volume 1 - Strike Indicator Techniques". In this DVD, Phil & Brian cover fly fishing chironomids in stillwaters using floating lines and indicators. They put it all on the table in this video and really didn't leave out anything. Topics include:

  • Chironomid life cycles, behavior and common colors
  • Fly selection
  • Rods
  • Reels
  • Lines
  • Leader construction
  • Swivels
  • Non-slip loop knots
  • Throat pumps
  • Strike indicators
  • Casting with indicators
  • Sounders & boat control
  • Setting fly depth
  • Fly presentation & retrieves
  • Recognizing takes
They also have recipes for some of their favorite flies at the end of the video. Other than the wealth of information found in this DVD, what I also liked about it was the summarization after topics that were a bit of an information overload. As a stillwater guide and instructor who offers one-on-one stillwater clinics, this video, in my opinion, not only hits the target but I believe this may be the best instruction fly fishing DVD I have ever seen. A great job by two of North America's top stillwater fly fishing experts and I'm really looking forward to Volume 2.