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?


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.

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.

Thanksgiving Fishing

I am thankful for the opportunities I have to fish.

Its Canadian thanksgiving this weekend. We start early because winter comes much sooner than it does for those of you south of the board. But aside from the fact that the leaves are turning color and falling off the trees, today seemed more like a summer day. So I jumped at the opportunity to go fishing for a few hours.

With limited time, I headed to a nearby pond that is stocked annually with rainbow trout. It is pretty accessible so I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t been there for a year.

I rigged up with a clear intermediate line and a small streamer and after an initial run of rock bass, I was able to confirm there were still trout in the pond. I always find it interesting how different species and even strains within a species behave so differently. The rock bass hoover the fly in and then leave their mouths wide open while one hauls them in – like a small wind sock, giving the impression they are bigger than they are. The rainbow trout were not particularly aggressive in their take but once hooked they shook their heads mightily and were frequently successful in slipping the barbless hook.

Most of the trout were in the 12 inch range although a couple taped out at 15 inches.

At one point I decided to try a few underwater shots. This is not particularly easy when one is in a float tube, is working the fish to the tube with one hand and is trying to keep from dropping the camera with the other. This is the best of a bad bunch. If you look, you can see a trout in the distance. Clearly I need more practice!

Through the afternoon the takes came frequently until about 4 in the afternoon when things died down. Nothing big was caught but it was still a fine afternoon of fishing.

Back on the Water

A week has passed since returning from three days fishing. No wonder the season goes by so fast.

Our early season trip to Quebec for trout has to be considered a success. Four lakes fished, catching plenty of rainbows and brook trout, good food and good friends.

It was particularly good to have Brian back with us after almost three years in Japan. Here he is less than ten minutes in with a nice rainbow. Obviously he never lost his touch! And it was one of many that first morning.

Fishing At Last!

Monday marked the first day of fishing for 2011. Nothing whatsoever through January, February, March and half of April. A sad state of affairs!

The Bing Retreat is a private resort about an hour and a half from home. The owner Chris Fisher does a great job managing the lake, stocking it with rainbows and brook trout. The day rate for fishing it is quite reasonable and given that it was one of the first good trout lakes open in our area, it was an obvious destination of choice.

So the anticipation leading up to today was substantial. Ice out was confirmed over a week ago. The weather has been nasty this spring but it looked like we would have a window of good weather this Monday. Depending on the weather forecast one was following it would be sunny or sunny with clouds and temperatures up to 10C. And the wind – hopefully not as strong as it has been the last few days.

As it turned out the sun never really arrived until after we finished up. The wind never left and the the temperature never hit 10C. But it was still the first day of the season.

Wade, Roger, George and I arranged to meet between 8:30 and 9. Roger was first on the water but I wasn’t far behind. It felt good to be out on the water again – despite the fact it the water temperature was only 42F and the wind was blowing. I started with the brown krystal hackle bugger I had so much success with up at Kenauk at the end of last season but it wasn’t producing the same results today. Rounding the point it was clear that midges were hatching. There were lots of new insects on the surface and pupae just under the film. No fish were rising so I switched to a chironomid pattern for a while but with a clear intermediate line it wasn’t the best set up so that didn’t last too long.

By this time I had kicked far enough that I was along the south shore of the lake. I decided to change flies and switched to one of Denny Rickards’ AP Emergers I had tied up on the weekend. That seemed to be the ticket. I cast, let it sink with the intermediate line and then slowly stripped the fly back in. Almost immediately I had a hit. After a good fight I landed a 16 inch rainbow. About the same time George hooked into a fish not far from me but after a bit of a fight it slipped the hook.

My change in fortune continued with another hit. This time it was a slightly larger fish – approximately 18 inches. I tried for a photo but it is just too awkward trying to manage a fish and take its picture at the same time. So it was quickly dispatched. Between fighting the fish, kicking and the wind, I was now almost at the southeast corner of the lake. I had a couple more hits and eventually hooked into another fish. This one proved to be small, about 10 inches so it was played quickly and released.

My toes were starting to get cold and my bladder was telling me a trip to shore was in order so I decided to kick back to the launch spot. With the launch in sight I had a hit and immediately it was clear that this was a large fish. It took line for a good run and then bulldogged at depth. The ensuing fight lasted about 15 minutes as we exchanged line in and out. Eventually I managed to get him to the surface confirming it was a very big fish. When I finally got him to the net it out he wasn’t that long – maybe 18 inches but very fat. After a quick look he was released. I estimate he was somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds.

The fight over I was reminded of the reason for my trip ashore so no more distractions. Out of the tube and flippers off to deal with pressing matters. I also decided to apply a couple heat patches to my feet in an effort to fight off the cold. Given I was on shore and it was past noon, I grabbed a sandwich but decided to pass on liquids for the time being and was back on the water, waiting for the heat patches to kick in.

I headed back to the south shore and managed a couple more fish in the 16-18 inch range and then a couple more in the 10 inch range. All were caught on an AP Emerger using the same slow stripping approach. The wind continued to blow so I decided to move on around the lake as much in search of calmer conditions as anything. By this time my first AP Emerger was pretty beat up and the only other one I had looked so pathetic in the water (did I say I can’t tie soft hackles very well) so I decided to switch up to one of my Palmered Chenille Buggers. Casting close to shore and slowly stripping I was greeted by a solid hit and after a bit of a battle, brought to net another good sized rainbow.

By this time it had been almost 6 hours of continuous tubing so i started heading back towards the launch. There wasn’t much action so I switched to a Montreal wet fly for no particular reason but it proved successful as I was rewarded by another hit from a solid fish. After a good fight I landed and released another rainbow in the 16 inch range.

I was cold again and quite aware I had been on the water for over six hours. And since Roger and Wade were already ashore, it seemed like a good time to pack it in. George followed shortly behind me.

Other than the three smaller trout, all the rainbows were easily in the 16 to 18 inch range with the one closer to 20 – a good start to the season.

Late Season Stillwater

Winter is approaching quickly. Days are short and temperatures are beginning to fall. Fall colours are long gone and as each day passes, the opportunities for stillwater fishing lessen.

Earlier this week a few of us had a chance to get out for a bit of trout fishing – a full day and the morning of the next. We were hoping to encounter rainbow trout bent on fattening up for the winter months. Depending on how you look at it, the weather conditions were going to be good or bad. Sunny and warm was inviting from the perspective of being out on the water with legs immersed in 43F water but maybe overcast would be preferable for the fish. What we got was sunny and warm and mostly no wind which made for very pleasant float tubing.

We arrived reasonably early Monday morning and wasted no time getting on the water. Fishing proved to be steady. By lunch time most had managed to coax several trout into dining on whatever was at the end of the line. In my case the menu du jour consisted mainly of the rusty brown bugger concoction I had come up with a couple months back. I admit it looks somewhat strange when dry but in the water the Krystal Hackle flattens back nicely to match the shape of a minnow body. Under the bright sun conditions the subtle sparkle seemed to be an added attraction for the fish. Who knows what goes through a fish’s brain but whatever it is, they seemed to like it.

Most of the fish caught were in the 12-14 inch range with a few approaching 16 inches. I was fishing a clear intermediate sink line. Fish were caught at various depths, generally while stripping in the line. Dusk comes early these days and by 5 o’clock the sun had set and everyone was ready for a warm cabin and dinner.

We were up the next morning, greeted by near flat calm conditions. As the sun rose over the hills, the temperature warmed and the wind stayed away. I headed to a shallow bay where I had had some success the day before. Same thing this morning as landed three rainbows in quick order and lost three more.

Somewhere I have heard or read – don’t leave fish to find fish, but not heeding that advice I decided to move on, thinking I would finish up the morning in another favourite bay. That proved to be an unsuccessful idea as the fish seemed to either have left the area or decided they weren’t hungry. At any rate after an hour with no activity, it was time to head in for a cup of coffee and to warm up.

With the toes feeling better I decided to hit the water for a bit before we had to pack up and leave. Based on experience from earlier in the morning, I headed back to the bay I had started at and was rewarded with action once again. It seemed the fish were active along the edge of the flats. Several fish and an equal number of misses it was time to call it quits and head for home.

The rusty brown bugger proved to be my most successful pattern on this trip. Who knows if that will be the case in the future but it will be one on the list for winter tying.

November Float Tubing

Today was a great day to be out on the water.  November 1 and still in the float tubes.   The forecast was for temperatures of 5C, sun and cloud and only a bit of wind.  When we arrived at the lake it was full sun and barely a breath of wind.  The weekend snowfall had not been huge but the temperatures remained cool and so the trees were still covered in snow.

The crisp air was fine but the clear sky and no wind were a bit concerning.  We were hoping for large rainbows that were know to be way at the best of times. The question was how would the fishing be with such bright, calm conditions?

Both Wade and I were thinking the fish were still well below the surface so Wade went with a type 3 sinking line while I decided to rig my RIO clear intermediate sink line.  This is easily my favourite line for lake fishing and is my default when conditions clearly point to surface action.  I tied on a Mrs. Simpson streamer which apparently had worked well on the weekend.

It didn’t take long for the fish to respond.  Within ten minutes of Wade and I launching I had a hit from an energetic young rainbow.  After several jumps I brought him to the float tube and quickly released a 12-14 inch silver sided rainbow.   Wade followed not long after with a couple brothers or sisters to the one I caught.  This was a good start.  The smaller fish were active but what about the larger rainbows?

Things slowed from there as we worked our way around the edge of the lake towards an area where fishing was usually good.  Another hit but nothing to show for it.

I decided to kick down to the far end of the lake.  It is a bit of a float and puts one at the east end of the lake which is not much fun with the wind picks up as it typically blows west to east.  However I had lost a large fish at that end the last time I fished the laked so wanted to find out whether there were more to be had. Slowly I moved further away from the launch.  The wind picked up.  Nothing serious but still a reminder that it was going to be a bit of work to get back.

The end of the lake is fairly narrow with flats and sharp drop offs along the shore I hugged.  As I approached the end, I had a sharp hit.  It held and I could tell this was a larger fish.  No jumping but lots of head shaking and several long runs.  At one point I worked him to the surface and confirmed that should this be successful it would be the largest rainbow trout I caught in this lake.  The fight lasted about 10 minutes before I managed to net a very nice male rainbow. Based on the 18 inch measure in float tube stripping basket, this one must have been around 24 inches.  My guess was close to 5 pounds.

It was only after releasing this guy, that I remembered the wind had picked up. I decided not to stick around but to head back towards Wade, Bob and Doug (who had joined up with us).  Since the last fish was caught close to the drop off, I decided to focus on working the edge.  A short time later, a second big hit vibrated through my rod.  Judging from the feel, this was another big fish.  And he decided to run, stripping line from my reel.  Several times I worked him close to the float tube only to have him sound and tear off with more line.  However better this than forcing the issue and losing him, as I have a habit of doing.  Eventually he too came to the net and was released after a couple pictures.

I was now closer to the others and since it was getting close to noon, decided to head over to a convenient rock outcrop that made a good lunch spot.  Wade was there by the time I got there and eventually the others followed.

Fed, warmed, relieved – anticipation was high for more fish in the afternoon.  However that was not to be the case – at least for me.  Other than one 12 inch rainbow – nothing.  Wade did slightly better and Doug lost a large fish but otherwise it was quite enough that by 3pm we decided to pack it in.

Although the fish weren’t many, it was a great day.  The two large ones definitely helped!

Thanksgiving Fly Fishing

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving – a spectacular autumn day. i have lots to be thankful for including the fact we celebrated on Saturday so today is post celebration time and conveniently a good day to go fishing. While Donna is not interested in fishing she was up for a trip to a local pond so long as she could sit by the shore, read a book and take a few photos. So off we went with previously acquired directions since I had never been to this spot before.

We arrived shortly after 10 in the morning. Although the pond is very accessible, there was only one other couple fishing and they left shortly after we arrived.

The fish were clearly active with several surfacing near us. There was no hatch going on but the fish seemed to be feeding on something relatively close to the surface. Impatiently inflated the float tube, strung my rod and generally tried to get organized as quickly as possible. Despite the surfacing fish, I decided to go with a clear intermediate sink line and a small streamer. And within minutes I was rewarded with a hit. First fish to the tube was a small but energetic rainbow which was quickly released. The hits continued at a fairly regular pace throughout the morning. Most fish caught were in the 11-12 inch range. I’m not sure if they are the product of late fall stocking but whatever the case, they seemed hungry.
Rainbow Trout

Just before noon I hooked into a much larger fish. Immediately airborne, it showed bright red along the side and was clearly larger than any of the fish caught to this point. Sadly after working it fairly close to the tube, I was a little over enthusiastic and he slipped the hook without me getting another look. However, it was good to know the pond also has some larger fish.

Jumping Rainbow Trout

This was confirmed after a lunch break when I hooked into a very nice 15 inch fish which was quickly followed by a fat 14 incher.

Netting Another Trout

The pond is not large, the product of an old quarry but it must be fed by cold water springs to support trout. The water is clear and in many spots it was possible to see to the bottom which was in excess of 20 feet.

I packed it in around mid afternoon, thankful for the time on the water and cooperative fish!