Well folks, its been a pretty good start to spring so far. Not epic, or amazing, but pretty solid and enough to at least scratch my ‘fishing itch’ that has been building all winter.
But things are about to change. In most mountain fed rivers across the province, run-off is around the corner (GASP!). I know. It is very frightening. The thought of that epicly large mountain snowpack coming down with a vengeance and rendering all our favourite rivers and creeks unfishable until an unknown time in the seemingly very distant future. Hopefully, we will all survive. But its not all over once those rivers turn to chocolate milk. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to catch yourself fish despite that evil R word, that is coming- whether we like it or not.
A quick update on what I’ve been up to. Despite it being late April, the skiing continues to be incredible, and on April 25th I was treated to the best Pow day of the season. So the skiing put fishing on hold for a few days. Overall, a good problem to have. Also, I somehow seem to have landed my dream job. I will be working up at a wilderness/ fly-fishing lodge on the banks of a great river in the Red Deer River basin; doing all sorts of stuff around camp, and also guiding and outfitting once I get to know the area. If you want to know exactly where, send me a message and I will give you some more details. I headed up to my new home for the second time this week, in what was a great excuse to go fishing for a couple days
So, before I went up to the lodge, I spent a few days exploring the Spring creeks of central Alberta. The water is running at a healthy rate; the rain of last week had the water up and kind of murky, but I was able to garner some attention on bigger streamers. I hooked several; but a log jam broke me off once, and the crafty browns shook my hook a few other times. I was only able to get a few to the net, but overall I was happy to see some action.
So then I headed to the central Alberta high-country where I will be working this summer, and went searching for some Bullies. I haven’t had to much thought for Bullies yet, as the Browns are slightly addictive and a little closer. But the water in the high-country is in pristine shape and I was glad to see some white fins at the bottom of the deep pools when I started fishing. It didn’t take long before a big bully smashed my articulated streamer and I was off and running. I was able to catch fish in most of the pools I tried, or at least get some action. Having the fine water of the Red Deer River basin right in my back yard this summer, I think there is plenty of Bull Trout in my future. Can’t wait to explore all this area has to offer.
Unfortunately, there is probably only a few more days to go chase fish in the high country. So I’m glad I got up there and got some fish before spring actually comes and the chocolate milk comes with it.
Run-off will begin as soon as overnight temperatures in the mountains stay above freezing, and the snow-pack doesn’t freeze overnight. This leads to a runaway melt effect during the days, and the flows of our streams jumping up. The temperatures will be reaching double digits in the mountains by the end of the week, and it doesn’t look like the overnight temps will be low enough to recover.
So basically, if you have time to go fish in the next few days, go and get it now before run-off comes and your options will be severely limited.
So, what to do once run-off does come?
Well, there is a few options, the first being lakes. This is the best time of year to go fish some lakes. I will certainly be taking a few days to go fish some of the lakes in southern Alberta in the Crowsnest. The spring creeks should stay OK, but during times of rain they will go a little off-colour, because the springs are full. But there should be some good fishing to be had in anything not attached to the mountain snowpack. Make sure to check regulations and ensure that anything you are fishing is open. Another option this time of year is to go fish beaver ponds and little ponds that are often located in the upper reaches of spring creeks and small creeks. There are many, and they are typically right at the base of the mountains. This can be fun fishing for big brookies, however it will take some searching and exploration. Do some homework, find some water, catch some fish. And repeat. That what fly-fishing is all about.
And of course, while I forget it sometimes, there is other activities other than fly-fishing. This is a good time of year to knock the dust of the mountain bike and rip up some trails, do some easier hiking in the front ranges, or even do some ski touring along the divide. Point is: Life does not end with the chocolate milk. Get outside and enjoy being outdoors, stay active and enjoy the budding of leaves and flowers. The rivers will be gin clear again before you know it!