And so it begins….

And so it begins – after a long winter we head out to the local lakes in search of early season trout. The ice is fresh off and the hope is the trout will be hungry. Its a fine line between ice off and water temperatures that send the trout to cooler water and largely inaccessible to a stillwater fly fisherman.

By many accounts the weather is fantastic – blue sky and warm. Not necessarily optimal for fishing but it sure beats cold and snow.

We arrive at the first lake, hurry to organize an accumulation of stuff and hit the water. With extra layers on the body and float tubes loaded with an almost infinite arsenal of flies tied through the long winter we head out in search of rainbows. The rumour mill has already started – a large one was caught in this very lake just yesterday.

Getting reacquainted with the float tube goes smoothly. I forgot how much effort it can take to move push into it the wind. But I’m not complaining. I remind myself these things are not built for speed.

Thinking early season the first choice is to fish the lake edge, along the drop off but either the fish aren’t there or they are not interested in eating. Circling the lake several times produces no results so we decide to try our luck at the next lake. This one holds brook trout. It has been productive in the past but has seen some lean years of late. Hope springs eternal!

This time, the evidence of trout is more encouraging. Fishing the shoreline structure still seems the best bet. Although I find it pretty quiet, numerous hits and a couple hook ups for the others in our group spur us on.

If patience and persistence are fishing virtues, then I guess I am rewarded – a single brook trout obliges me and after an energetic struggle a nice brook trout comes to my net. Briefly admiring his green sides and multi-coloured spots, I slip him back into the water and he disappears.

My day on the water comes to an end soon after – probably just as the good fishing is about to begin. No doubt that will be the story tomorrow.

Time to Change Tactics!

The trout were in a hungry mood a couple weekends ago, fattening up for the winter. We had a great time fishing for them near the surface on Friday afternoon but Saturday was a bit different. The fish seemed to take a break in the afternoon when the sun was high in the clear sky.

I switched to a fly I had only discovered a couple days before the trip. The complex twist bugger is weighted, bushy and bright. On an intermediate line it settled into the deeper water quite nicely. And the fish responded bringing on several good sized rainbow trout. Sometimes it pays to change tactics…….

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Can you ever have too much of a good thing when it comes to fishing?  I expect, probably one can.

But a few of us haven’t reached that point as far as fishing the Manitoba Parklands for large brown, rainbow and tiger trout. ¬†I am not sure the exact number but I think we have made at least 6 or 7 trips to the area over the past number of years – sometimes once, sometimes twice a year.

Last year I missed out so it was a priority to make at least one trip this year. ¬†And that we did back in early June. ¬†Its been a busy month since I got back and I still haven’t gone through all my photos but I will soon. ¬†But in the meantime, here are a couple photos from this last trip.

Brown Trout-Patterson

Dennis-West Goose Dennis-Twin Lakes

Summer Bass Fishin

I’d like for my fishing season to be a continuous flow of activity but so far this season it has been more of the burst or intermittent variety.

I’m not sure why that is. In a recent conversation with a fishing buddy we agreed that we live in an amazing part of the world as far as access to good fishing locations is concerned. But somehow that hasn’t translated into regular outings this year. I must fix that…..

Bass season has been on us for about a month. I have managed to get out a couple times to local spots ‚Äď once for smallmouth (and assorted panfish) and the second to a lake with good-sized largemouth bass.

A Not So Big Bass

Achigan Largemouth

Float Tube Drydock

With local water deteriorating from down  right cold to frozen it appears the stillwater fishing season has wound down. The float tube has been officially dry docked for the winter.

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I last ventured out a couple weeks ago.  Water temperatures at the time were around 42F but the air temperatures were much colder. Rod guides had to be swished in the water to clear the bulbs up of ice.

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Despite the cold, it’s ¬†great time to fish. ¬†The trout are hungry and not nearly as discriminating as they can be in the summer.

Kenauk Rainbow

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It’s been a pretty good season – some great outings but never enough. The season flies by too quickly.

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Manitoba Recap

Its hard to stay away. The fishing is too enticing. Before our trip this past spring there were no plans for a return but a fairly short discussion led to a few of us committing to a fall trip. This was our fourth trip to the Manitoba Parkland – two spring and two fall trips. While both spring and fall have their pluses, I think our experience has us leaning to fall.

It was a great trip – sometimes challenging but overall lots of great fish. ¬†Here are a few photos. ¬†Grip and grin photos are hard to get when you are in a float tube managing a fly rod, line and hook and an energetic fish so the pictures don’t always do the fish justice. Most of the photos were of 19 inch plus fish. ¬†Some of the larger ones we estimated at over six pounds with a few approaching eight. ¬†The larger ones were mostly released as quickly as possible without photos.

It didn’t take long for us to find cooperative fish.

Patterson Lake

And the reward – a nice rainbow trout.

Rainbow Trout

We found browns as well.

Male Brown Trout

The rainbows varied in their coloration.

Rainbow Trout

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Silvery Rainbow

The day ended with the weather closing in but all in all, a good start to the trip.

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Day two fishing conditions were mixed. ¬†The day started slow for me but ended strong with a number of feisty browns and rainbows enticed from the reeds along the shore of Patterson Lake.¬†These two don’t look very pleased about the situation.

Brown Trout

Patterson Brown Trout

The rainbows were energetic and seemed particularly interested in my brown P-Quad.

Rainbow Trout

Day three we packed up and headed to the Harvest Moon Inn in Roblin.  Great people and a great spot to stay if interested in fishing Twin Lakes and Persse Lake.

We checked in Saturday morning and in addition to a warm welcome back Beth informed us that West Goose Lake in the middle of town was fishing well. ¬†That sounded interesting but our attending was focused on the lakes to the north so we unloaded what we didn’t need for fishing and headed off to Twin Lakes.

The clouds had broken over night so things looked good but unfortunately the fish didn’t get the message. ¬†Nothing to show for our morning’s efforts so we moved on to Persse Lake after lunch. ¬†Again, nothing but a few hits. ¬†Somewhat discouraged, we called it a day late in the afternoon discussing a conversation we had had with a local expert – Bill Pollack. ¬†Among other things he mentioned that West Goose Lake in Roblin had been fishing well the past few days. Was there something we should be paying attention to?

That night over order in pizza from Metal Red’s Pizza¬†we discussed plans for the next day. A some point West Goose Lake entered the conversation. ¬†Why not give it a try Sunday morning?

Turns out it was a good idea.  Between the three of us we landed a lot of big fish.

Roger with a large rainbow trout

 

Fat Rainbow Trout

 

The fishing at West Goose on Sunday was so good that we decided to return for a few hours on Monday before heading back to Winnipeg to catch our flights. ¬†And it didn’t disappoint.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We had to work for the fish but they cooperated, including some really big specimens.  I suspect we will be back.

 

 

Manitoba Parkland – Back Again

Its hard to stay away. The fishing is too enticing. Before our trip this past spring there were no plans for a return but a fairly short discussion led to a few of us committing to a fall trip.

It began September 19 with our flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg. By the time we landed, picked up our rental van and drove to Shoal Lake it was lunch time and by the time we got to Patterson Lake (including a return trip to the Shoal Lake Inn to pick up the flippers I forgot) we had time for a few hours fishing.

I was greeted by a very nice brown trout only moments from the launch. The picture doesn’t do it justice but it is a bit difficult to get a great shot of a thrashing trout in one’s net while sitting in a float tube.

Parkland Trout – Coming Soon!

Our third trip to the Manitoba Parkland is in the horizon Рnext month, well actually six weeks but who is counting.  This is what we are after.  And hopefully some of his rainbow and brown trout cousins.

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This will be our third trip to the Parkland.  Our first was a September trip and last year we decided to head back in spring.  That venture only wet the appetite for more so back we go at the end of May.  Flights to Winnipeg were secured with Aeroplan points long time ago as was the time we will spend with Phil Rowley. with points were booked long ago as was our time with Phil Rowley but accommodations for the second half of the trip still need to be booked and we need vehicles to move us around.  Last year the plan was to rent two hatchbacks for the four of us but since the rental companies would guarantee specific vehicles the plan only partially worked.  When we got there there was only one hatchback available so we ended up upgrading to a compact SUV for the second.  Although a hatchback is more than adequate for all our gear and access to the lakes is easy, the extra room of the SUV was nice so I will probably lobby for paying a bit extra and reserving one outright. I figure the extra cost is worth it.

The big task is finishing up my fly tying.  I am in good shape for most things but need to tie some more chironomids which were absolutely essential last spring.  And I need to tie some dragon fly imitations.  Jeff Lauze just posted a version on his blog that looks like just the ticket.  Never mind that I suck at spinning and trimming deer hair.

Dragon Fly Nymph - Jeff Lauze
Dragon Fly Nymph – Jeff Lauze

Amazingly, I don’t think I have any major purchases to make (shocking as that may be) although I am on the lookout for a new pair of float tube flippers. ¬†My Outcast flippers work fine when wearing wading boots but I have a tough time keeping them securely fastened with only neoprene booties over my waders. ¬†I am considering the Force Fin flippers but may compromise with something a bit cheaper. ¬†I am open to suggestions.

So that’s it as far as preparations go. ¬†To manage the anticipation, the plan is to get in as much local fishing if spring ever gets here.

 

Cold Water Float Tubing

I figure I might be able to swing one more float tube outing before the water temperatures drop beyond manageably comfortable levels in this part of the world.

I managed to get out for a day last weekend, fishing at the Bing Retreat.  The last time I was there was in April and it was cold then too.  Note to self, next year plan a trip at a more hospitable time.  The Bing is private water and Chris Fisher manages a great fishing lake not far from home.

Although things started slowly with a bit of wind and snow flakes, it turned out to be a great day.  I managed four nice rainbow trout which is not a lot but still better than not fishing at all.

This was the first trout after lunch.  He must have thought my olive wooly bugger looked like something worth eating.

This was rainbow number two.  Great colors on these fish.

This rainbow looks so completely different from the pervious two.

Its now the following Saturday afternoon.  The short days mean its getting dark already.  Monday is a day off.  A chance to get out one more time?