Sunday, 18 July 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, 3 July 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.