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

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.

 

 

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.

 

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 РTwin 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.

 

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 Рbut just barely.

Actual Fishing

April 7 РChecked 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 РI 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 Рhope 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 РThe 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 Рusually 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 Рtwo 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.

Hanging On – Is Winter Over Yet?

As much as I wish it were different, winter means a slow down in my fishing. By this time of the year, I’ve had enough. Sadly, we aren’t done yet (although there is hope).

Today was an injection of hope. Our local fly fishing club and Jencor Entertainment Inc. (producers of The New Flyfisher TV program) made a dent in the winter blues.

While people skated on the world’s longest skating rink (Ottawa’s Rideau Canal) across the street, about 45 of us were treated to a great workshop by Tom Rosenbauer. ¬†The topic: Prospecting for Trout. ¬†For those of you who don’t know, some years go Tom wrote a book by the same title. ¬†The latest version The Orvis Guide to Prospecting for Trout: How to Catch Fish When There’s No Hatch to Match was revised in 2008.

I have enjoyed Tom’s regular podcasts on various fly fishing topics and he was equally informative and good to listen to in person. I understand Tom has a new book coming out but I didn’t catch the title – something to watch for.

Judging from the enthusiasm in the room today more people than just me are chomping at the bit for spring to arrive.

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.