Big Bass!

This last little while there hasn’t been as much fishing as I would have liked. Somehow the days slip by and after quite a few, one realizes that it has been a while since the rod got a workout.

But yesterday I had a chance to get out with a few friends in search of oversized bass.  And we weren’t disappointed.  We found a steady contingent of largemouth bass willing to sample the flies we offered.

The lake we were fishing has plenty of large bass which on occasion can be very obliging.  This time around they weren’t quite so obliging but the fishing was steady none the less. And that included the big ones.

Anticipating large bass, I selected a 7wt rod to start.  A couple of the guys had been there the day before and there experience was the fish were not interested in surface feeding with most fish caught down around 10-15 feet.  With this in mind, the rod was rigged with a full sink line.  I attached a black and brown wooly bugger at the working end of the line. By the end of the day I might have tied on three other flies but always returned to the black and brown.

The 7wt proved to be the right choice.  Many of them put the rod through its paces as I struggled to keep them out of the brush and weeds they seemed drawn to once hooked.

Over the course of about six hours fishing, I managed to land 15 bruisers between 16 and 20 inches in length. It was good to get out.

 

Manitoba Parkland – Part 2

Its amazing how quickly a great fishing trip gets left behind.  Two weeks have gone by since we got back from Manitoba.  I had planned to get some photos posted but somehow work got in the way.

Rather than a lot of text, I’ll comment on a few photos. I have also compiled a slide show that includes a number of additional photos of fish for those who only really care about the fish.

As mentioned the first four days of our trip were spent with Phil Rowley who has been organizing twice yearly Prowling the Parkland trips.  This was our second trip with Phil and his team.  Without a doubt they are well worth the cost in terms of learning, access to lakes and general good fun.  Here is a photo of Phil giving us some early morning tips from the dock in front of the lodge.

The fishing was very good in the sense that everyone had shots at decent sized fish.  They weren’t jumping into the boat but with hard work and smart tactics (thanks again Phil) they could be had.  At different times pretty much everyone was on to good fish.  Here is Wade playing a nice trout.

The Parkland region offers lots of fishing options.  In addition to FLIPPR lakes there are other lakes within Duck Mountain Park and elsewhere that offer fishing opportunities that we just didn’t have time for.  One could spend a lot longer than the eight days we had and not get bored.

Most of our fishing was either with chironomids or streamers.  For us Ontario guys this was probably our first serious attempt at chironomid fishing.  The techniques Phil showed us actually worked!  And it was also our first attempt at fishing anchored from float tubes.  That seemed to work pretty well too although we came away with some ideas on anchor system design modifications.

And did I mention the fish?  We caught quite a few and quite a few large ones.

Our last morning was spent at Patterson Lake.  When we got there the air was still and the water flat calm except for trout rising to the surface.  The morning turned into a caddis fest – at least for the fish.  We weren’t as successful coaxing  them to our flies although we did manage to convince a respectable number of fish to take whatever we were offering – as caddis emergers?  Who knows. George and Roger did have some success with a few bigger fish.  We were all set for a shot of this 10+ pound rainbow when it slipped away from Roger.

After that George also lost a big brown after it took him into the brush along shore.  But maybe that was a good way to end the trip.  We know where he lives so next time ……

 

Fishing the Manitoba Parkland

Our spring trip to the Manitoba Parkland region has come to an end.  What a trip it was.  Eight days of fishing for trophy trout.  Over that time we fished six different lakes:

 

  • Patterson Lake
  • Tokaryk Lake
  • Pybus Lake
  • Twin Lakes
  • Persse Lake
  • Gull Lake

 

The first five are associated with the FLIPPR program (Fish and Lake Improvement Program for the Parkland Region). FLIPPR focuses on the development and maintenance of a trophy trout fishery in the Manitoba Parkland region.

In its 12th year the program has many successes to point to and the region is slowly being discovered as a top North America still water fishery.  Gull Lake is a brook and rainbow trout lake in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.

 

The first four days as part of Fly Craft Angling’s Prowling the Parklands Stillwater Seminar.  Phil Rowley offers a great seminar that is a combination of teaching and fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The teaching component focused on chironomid techniques and the fishing gave everyone lots of opportunity to practice. The accommodations at Arrow Lake Outfitters and Ranch work well for the way the seminar is set up.  This was our group’s second time around.  Phil along with cohosts Bob and Karen Vanderwater provide a great experience that is highly recommended for both first time and fishers returning to the Parkland.

For the last half of our trip we moved up to Roblin, closer to the western FLIPPR lakes – Twin Lakes and its healthy population of tiger trout and Persse Lake as well as lakes in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.  We based ourselves at the Harvest Moon Inn.  The Harvest Moon worked out great and Roblin itself offers a variety restaurants and services for fisherman.

The fishing over the course of the eight days was great.  Each of the lakes offered their own challenges and rewards although the rewards for a couple of them were harder to discover.  I’ll post again with more details about the fishing itself.  Here is a shot of a Tokaryk Rainbow.

 

Getting Ready!

In less than two weeks four of us are heading to the Manitoba Parklands for a week in search of behemoth trout.  The lure of large rainbow, brown and tiger trout is one that brings some people to the region year after year.  We made our first trip to the area last September with results that tempted us to make a return trip.

Here is a link to a blog post by Dave Jensen from a recent trip to the Parkland area.  As if we didn’t need more encouragement.

Kenauk Fly Fishing

The annual spring trip to Kenauk has come and gone.  While the usual crowd of ner do wells headed out for 3-4 days, I was only able to get away for one night which meant a one full day of fishing (Thursday) and a few hours the following morning.

For those who don’t know Kenauk is a fish and game preserve managed by the Fairmont chain of hotels as part of its Montebello Resort.  It is located close to the Ottawa River about and hour and a half from Ottawa itself.  Kenauk maintains several individual chalets on lakes that it manages – most with rainbow and brook trout.

Given the compressed timeframe, I made sure to get an early start Thursday morning, made it through the check in process at the main gate and up to Muskrat Chalet by 8:30.  After unloading food, clothing, etc. and some brief greetings and inquisition as to the past days fishing it was off to Collins Lake hopeful for some cooperative brook trout.  Fishing had been good – which is what I wanted to hear!

The weather forecast had changed considerable through the week and by Thursday the sky was overcast, there was a steady, cool wind and the air temperature was probably in the 5-9C range.  The surface water temperature was around 13C (56F) which bode well for active fish.

I quickly assembled my gear by the road, shouldered my float tube and made the short walk to the launch point.   Launching quickly, I headed to the rocky shore where I have had past success.  Fish being what they are, they weren’t there or weren’t interested in feeding.  It took a while to get going but after about an hour I got my first not so agressive hit and then my first hook up.  The timing of the first fishing activity was consistent with others experience from previous days when the fish seemed to turn to feeding around mid morning.

By the time of my first fish I had kicked my way to the far end of the lake to a shoal area that reportedly had been a good producer earlier.  As it turned most of our success on this day also came on the shoal or along the drop off.

While the weather was cool and the occasional burst of rain made it necessary to pull on the hood of my fishing jacket it didn’t seem to bother the fish and by  around 1pm I had landed around a dozen fish.  My largest was probably in the 14 inch range but others had landed a few approaching 18 inches.

By this time the cool wind and rain was having an effect so we decided to head in to warm up and grab some lunch.

We returned to the lake for some late afternoon fishing.  The activity was not as busy as the morning but I still managed to land a few nice brook trout before heading back to the chalet to prepare our steak dinner (did I mention we rarely suffer in the food department on these trips?).

Most of the fish caught by myself and others were taken on bait imitation patterns.  Various patterns and colours seemed to work.  Despite the overcast conditions which some suggest favours duller coloured patterns, I had most of my success on a yellow Hamill’s Killer although this particular brookie went for a black leach pattern.

Friday morning and the sun was now shining.  Nice for the fisherman but as it turned out, not so pleasing for the fish.  We fished for a few hours after breakfast and managed to coax a few fish to take our food imitations but without the success of the previous day.

Most of the chalets at Kenauk are situated on a fishable lake.  In the case of Muskrat Chalet, while it is situated on a lake, the trout lake linked to the chalet is Collins Lake which is about a 10 minute drive away.

The deal is that when you rent the chalet you also get exclusive access to the associated lake. Check out from the chalet is typically 10am on your last day and you are to be off the water by 11 if another party is coming in – sometimes one can stay longer if the chalet will remain unoccupied.

Friday morning when we arrived at Collins we found a guide preparing for his fishing guests to arrive.  He had commandeered the two row boats which presented a problem for one of our party who did not fish from his own float tube.  Despite some subtle reminders of the rules on our part he wasn’t inclined to wait until we had officially relinquished the lake.  So for a time after his party arrived we fished the lake together.  Interestingly he was quite diligent to point out that when it was 11 and time for us to get off the water.  It was an interesting experience – the first of its kind and one that hopefully doesn’t repeat itself.

Despite that, it was great to get out for even a short time at Kenauk.

Photo Tips – Use Your Camera’s Flash

I enjoy photography and generally try to combine it with my fishing.  My photos are mainly for my enjoyment but even so, I have learned that there are simple techniques I can use to improve the quality of my photos.

I thought I would share some of them on a semi regular basis. If you are really serious about photography you can likely find better and more thorough tutorials somewhere on the web.  These tips are geared to the picture taking fisherman who is trying to get a good shot while dealing with the likes of fish, lines, boat gear, etc. (ie, keep it simple).

Using Your Camera’s Flash

I generally think of my camera’s flash as a tool for helping when the scene is too dark – most often indoors.  While this is true, it is probably more accurate to think of the flash as a means for infilling dark or shadowed areas in a photo.  This doesn’t have to be in low light conditions.  Even on bright days parts of the image can have shadows that detract from the overall picture.  Using your flash can help to fill in these shadows.

Here is an example I shot not long ago.  The image on the left was shot without flash.  In general there is sufficient light to illuminate the image but detail around the fly rod and reel is lost.  Flash was used in the picture on the right and the results are quite pronounced showing much more reel detail.

While this example was taken on an overcast day, the results on a sunny day can be equally dramatic.  Whether you use a full DSLR, a point and shoot or a mobile phone camera, you usually have some options to control the flash settings.  Learn how to adjust your flash settings, play around a bit and be prepared for that next prize catch.  You will greatly improve your photos.

2012 Fishing Season – April Wrap Up

I think its more sad than strange that the first monthly wrap up of my 2012 fishing season comes in April.  Sad because there is nothing to summarize for the first three months of the season. That changed in April – but just barely.

Actual Fishing

April 7 – Checked out a local pond stocked with rainbow trout.  I have only fished it in the fall and had good success.

The day was breezy, overcast and around 5C.  My fish finder wasn’t working so I was not too sure about the water temperature however judging from the feel of the water on my toes it wasn’t too bad.

The fishing wasn’t what I was looking for.  There were lots of willing rock bass in the shallows and I also landed one decent out of season smallmouth bass at the far end of the lake (not sure where that came from) but I couldn’t find a trout.  Could the lack of trout in April be related to the fact they stock later in the spring?  At any rate, it was good to get out.

April 15 – I headed down to the river not far from home.  Generally there is an abundance of pan fish to be found and later in the season plentiful smallmouth and the occasional muskie.  The water was low – hope we get rain or they release more water into the river.  Other than checking out the workings of my new fly rod there was not much success on the fish front.

April 28 – The month is almost gone before I finally get another opportunity to get out.  The destination is Bing Retreat a private lake a couple hours from home.  I usually get there once a year – usually in the spring.   My notes tell me last year it was April 18 and that the water was very cold.  Today looks more promising.

I decided to fish a full sinking line and a streamer since the work was the fish were being caught deep.  I took a while but I after about a half hour I had what I thought was a hit.  And then another but no takes.  After about an hour I finally hooked into a fish for sure but he slipped the hook after a bit of vigourous head shaking.  This happened a few more times before I managed to land my first fish.  It was a small brook trout which explained the head shaking behaviour.  By lunch I had landed three and lost about as many.  All were small – two rainbows and one brook trout.

Judging by more frequent hits the fish were more active in the afternoon.  Perhaps in response to warmer water temperatures (approaching 50-51F).  I was trying a few different bugger patterns and finally settled on a smaller (size 10) olive bead head bugger with crystal flash in the tail.  It seemed to work as well as anything.

By the end of the day I had landed half a dozen fish, lost at least as many and had numerous other hits.  A good way to end the month

Upcoming Fishing Plans

May will be a busy month work wise but there should also be some fishing opportunities including a couple days at Kenauk which has been an annual destination for some years.  I hope to find time to check out a few local lakes that I haven’t been too for several years and hopefully some time to dip a line in New York later in the month.

Images of Arctic Light

The winter months are a slow fishing period for me. One measure of relief is the vicarious enjoyment of other people’s fishing activity – often set in warmer climes than eastern Ontario. That makes sense I think.

But other distractions present themselves. Recently I came across a video created by Terje Sorgjerd. It is a spectacular display of light shot in the Norwegian Arctic. He describes an annual phenomenon.

This was filmed between 29th April and 10th May 2011 in the Arctic, on the archipelago Lofoten in Norway.

My favorite natural phenomenon is one I do not even know the name of, even after talking to meteorologists and astrophysicists I am none the wiser.What I am talking about I have decided to call The Arctic Light and it is a natural phenomenon occurring 2-4 weeks before you can see the Midnight Sun.

The Sunset and Sunrise are connected in one magnificent show of color and light lasting from 8 to 12 hours. The sun is barely going below the horizon before coming up again. This is the most colorful light that I know, and the main reason I have been going up there for the last 4 years, at the exact
same time of year, to photograph.

Take the time to enjoy this amazing video.