Kenauk Rainbows

Our fall trip to Kenauk was earlier this year than in the past.  While it was great to be out fishing sooner than later for the most part we were still dealing with summer conditions and were a bit concerned that the fish would not be as cooperative as they usually were later in autumn.

We arrived to great weather – and warm water temperatures.  The 69-70F surface temperatures were not promising.

While conditions were less than what we would have liked, intermediate and fast sinking lines proved to help get flies to where the fish were and it turned out they could be encouraged to bite.  One of my first was a nice 18 inch rainbow that surprisingly was caught casting into shore in water less than 10 feet deep.

Afternoons proved to be slow going but early morning was productive yielding steady hits, generally over deeper water.

My most successful fly over the three day period was a rootbeer coloured palmered chenille bugger fished on a type 6 sinking line.  Sometimes trolling worked best and sometimes casting and stripping.

Heading into the trip we were uncertain what to expect.  Water temperatures had not cooled much but we still managed to coax quite a few fish to bite.  All in all the fishing was pretty good as was the companionship.  Enticing enough for a return trip.

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.

Spring Fishing – Pick Your Weather

Another spring trip to Kenauk has come and gone. Like usual, it was a great trip – good fishing with good friends. We were a few weeks earlier than previous years so I wondered what to expect. As we got closer to departure, the weather forecast seemed to get better and better. And Sunday, our first day was great. Although I arrived late, there was still time for some excellent fishing on Lac Sugarbush. First fish caught was a chunky 18 inch rainbow trout – a sign of things to come I hoped. And several more were added before it was time to head in for shrimp pesto dinner. Did I say we were roughing it?

The next morning after a quick breakfast it was over to Lac Vert. The fishing was slower than the day before but still not bad. After lunch Bob and I decided to check out Lac Collins – a brook trout lake that neither of us had fished before. By the time we arrived the wind was up and the weather was starting to change. No matter. After a short walk in from the road, we launched our float tubes and headed out in search of brook trout, Bob heading one direction around the lake and I, the other. It didn’t take long for the fish to respond and after a couple misses I hooked and landed a couple nice fish including this sixteen inch brookie.

We continued to fight the wind which was blowing from one end of the lake to the other but after a few hours decided to pack it in and head back to Sugarbush in hopes of an evening hatch to match the previous night (when we were absorbed in shrimp and pasta). Despite a great evening, the hatch never really materialized.

Back in the cabin preparing for steak dinner, the discussion revolves around the changing weather gleaned from the papers Don brought up earlier that morning. Why is it when the forecast is bad – it is accurate? Tuesday morning looked like a different world.

But we were there to fish so off we went. Thanks to George for this shot of me looking a bit stunned.

Once you got used to the idea of fishing in the snow, it wasn’t too bad. Other than the wind blowing down one’s neck the biggest challenge was keeping the hands warm. And that was only really a problem when one caught a fish. What a problem to have.

One of the best things about having a cabin close by is that when one does get cold its not a big deal to kick back in and head in for a cup of coffee. We took advantage of that a couple times before deciding to head over to Lac Vert later in the afternoon. Gear was quickly loaded in the vehicle for the short trip over to the lake. Not surprising, the weather was snowy, winding and cool over there too.

I got on the water before Bob and headed to the bay across the lake where the fish were said to be cooperative earlier in the day. Sure enough, my yellow Hamill’s Killer started producing results almost immediately. For some reason, I was having trouble translating hits to hooked fish going about 50 percent before deciding to head back to the other side of the lake were Bob seemed stuck at the launch spot. Working my way back against the wind, Bob informed me he was fishing a floating line and dry flies in response to rising fish. It seemed a midge hatch was underway in the middle of the snow fall.

I switched over to my other rod which was rigged up with a floating line and the action started almost immediately. Nice sized rainbow trout seemed more than willing to attack our dry flies, aggressively smashing them on or just below the surface.

Although we had a bit more snow overnight, Wednesday morning was free of precipitation. But it was still windy.

There was still time for a few hours of fishing. Some of the guys headed over to Lac Vert but I decided to stay at Sugarbush and was rewarded with a few final rainbows before packing it in around mid morning.

All too quickly the three days were over and it was time to head home. Another great trip – hopefully not the last.

Last Minute Fly Tying

As usual, the scramble is on to get some flies tied before heading out on Sunday for four days of fishing. We are headed up to Kenauk for our spring trip. Apparently we will have access to some additional lakes this year – which should be interesting.

Gearing up at Kenauk
You would think with six months of winter this would not happen. I am not in bad shape but I realized one of my go to patterns on the lakes we will be fishing is the Mrs. Simpson and I am really lacking in that department at the moment. Last spring we had one evening of dry fly activity – likely Hendrickson’s. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will have a repeat this year. We are out a bit earlier than last year but we have had pretty warm weather so we might get lucky. So in anticipation, I need some suitable dries and some emergers.

I’ll update when I get back – hopefully with a report that whatever flies I managed to bring along caught some fish.

Otter Lake – End of Season Fishing

The open water season on local lakes is getting short – over some would say. But the chance to fish Kenauk before winter sets in could not be passed up. We fished Otter Lake, a first for me. Otter Lake

The air temperature was on the cool side but it looked like the sun was going to shine and if the wind stayed down, it would be a good day. The water temp was about 5C (41F) which was better than expected. As it turned out several of the other lakes had already iced over so it was a good choice.
On the Water on a Cold Day

And the fish were cooperative too. The bite started minutes after launch and continued fairly steadily through the day.

Late Season Rainbow
There was a steady diet of rainbows in the 14-15 inch range although Bob landed one that taped out at 20 inches. While some of the hits were pretty agressive, a lot of the time the fish would bump the fly a few times before biting.

It was great to get out one more time before ice up.

Water and Ice

Kenauk – I Vaguely Remember….

The spring and fall Ottawa Fly Fishers trips to Kenauk are usually among the highlights of my fishing season but here it is six weeks later and I am just now putting down my thoughts.  Fortunately I did make notes for myself at the time so the details are still accessible. This fall’s trip was a bit different – mainly because of some sort of bug that left me feeling less than wonderful for the three days I was up there.  It didn’t help that most of the time on the water the weather was either misty or rainy so I came away with almost no photos.  A business trip immediately after, a busy month of October and just one fishing day at the end of the month seemed to have the effect of damping my memories of what really was a great trip – according to my notes.

Early Morning Fog

So enough whining.

Kenauk is a fish and game preserve owned by the Chateau Montebello which is managed by the Fairmont Hotel Chain.  The preserve is expertly managed and the facilities are excellent.  Within the preserve there are several lakes with only a single cabin on the lake.  Rent the cabin and you gain sole access to the lake.  Our OFS bunch rents two cabins on Lac Vert and Lac Sugarbush both relatively small lakes but well stocked with rainbow trout.  The story is that Lac Vert contains more fish while Sugarbush offers the chance at bigger fish.  This trip I was at Lac Vert although everyone was free to check out either lake.  And as a bonus, as compensation for some roof construction at Sugarbush, we were given the opportunity to try a couple of Kenauk’s trophy lakes.  The lakes are all equipped with row boats and canoes but because of their small size a lot of us prefer our float tubes or pontoon boats.

Although we have been told that there are times when the fish can play hard to get, that was certainly not the case at Lac Vert this time around.  Despite feeling lousy most of the time, the fishing was great.  Each day the fishing was steady, sometimes slowing for up to an hour but it wasn’t long before the hits came again.

I used an intermediate sinking line exclusively, pairing it almost exclusively with a variety of streamers.  Other setups ranged from floating to full sink lines and all worked at different times. On Sunday the killer fly was a black polar chenille bugger.  This was a fly recommended to me by Paul Ricker earlier in the season for trout.  Not to be too narrow minded, I spent most of the summer successfully enticing smallmouth bass with it but this was my first serious opportunity to try it on trout and it didn’t disappoint.

Most of my fish were caught within a few feet of the surface.  And there were many fish – the numbers recorded but not so important.  They were cooperative in taking the hook, usually lively in their fight and always quite willing to sink back into the water when released.   As I think about it was a great trip.  Enough to wet one’s appetite for next spring.

Spring Fishing in Québec

The spring version of our Québec fishing trip has come and gone. Three days of great fishing with good friends flew by all too quickly.

Our trip took us to Kenauk, the 65,000 acre fish and game preserve owned by the historic Chateau Montebello hotel.  From mid day Sunday through to noon on Wednesday, we had two rainbow trout lakes to ourselves.  One of the lakes – Lac Vert (Green Lake) is noted for plentiful fish and the other Lac Sugarbush for more sizable rainbows.  This year I spent all my time at Sugarbush but the reports from Green indicate the fishing was excellent.  We didn’t have anything to complain about at Sugarbush although by all accounts the fishing was generally slower.

While the trip started with us fishing in shirt sleeves, Monday was cold and windy and Wednesday morning was wet – a real range of conditions.

For the most part we trolled although later in the day it was possible to fish a dry fly with some success.  Sunday night there was a notable Hendrickson hatch but the other nights it seemed more likely the fish were feeding just below the surface.

The chalets (one per lake) provide excellent accommodation – more than adequate for sleeping and fine dining.  Sometime too much dining.  We basically missed the mayfly hatch the first night because we were preparing for shrimp pesto.  Note to self – schedule dinner well after the hatch since you may not see one again (our case).

Although a lot of my still water fishing involves trolling, there were opportunities to fish with floating lines and dry flies.  Here Bob is landing a rainbow caught on a Humpy I think.

A couple loons call Sugarbush home and they were none too shy.  Sometimes I wondered whether they were stalking us in anticipation of dinner.

The trout we caught varied in size from probably 12 inches to a massive 27 inches.  The latter is apparently the largest caught at Sugarbush.  This one was more modest in size.  The photo is my attempt at fishing and self photography while navigating a float tube.

Three Days at Kenauk

The fall fishing excursion to Kenauk is now history.  From noon Sunday to noon Wednesday a group of us had a blast fishing for rainbow trout at a lake on one of North America’s largest private fish and game reserves.  The trip was arranged for some of us from the Ottawa Flyfishers Society by John Huff of John Huff Adventures.  Several lakes on the 65,000 acre reserve have a single chalet which can be rented along with access to the lake.  Seven of us were based at Chalet Vert (Green Lake Chalet) and had the lake to fish for three fantastic days.

Weather-wise Sunday was the best day – and the fishing was great too.  After a bit of a slow start we found the fish at the mouth to one of the bays.  We spent the later part of the afternoon engaged wrestling feisty rainbow trout.

Most of the fish we caught were in the 12-14 inch range but there were enough larger ones to keep one paying attention.  Several in the 17-18 inches were caught over the three days.  Regardless of size, most were extremely energetic.

The lake is stocked with two varieties of rainbow trout.  One strain has a distinct green colour while the other is more silver.

Most of the fishing was done with sinking lines (full or intermediate) although some fish were caught on dry flies.

Did I say Sunday was the best weather day?  Monday wasn’t too bad (ie, no rain) but the wind was cool.  Regardless we were out on the lake and the fishing helped block the fact that it was cold. The gloves came out regularly but the problem was every time I got them on, a fish would strike so off the came again.

While most of our fishing was catch and release, a fish were kept including a couple that became the main ingredient of Monday’s fish chowder.

Fine food and wine worked wonders in warming everyone up.  And a good thing too because Tuesday we woke up to rain – exactly as forecast.  A great day for a leisurely breakfast but eventually the fish called again.   The weather didn’t seem to bother the fish although they seemed somewhat more tentative in their takes.  Often following the fly only to attack when it was stripped back in.

Wednesday rolled around way to quickly.  First task (after another gourmet breakfast omelet) was to pack up and then a few hours more fishing before heading home.

A beautiful location, good friends and great fishing.