I start to look forward to the opening day of fishing the day that ice gets in the way of casting my fly rod. I would much rather fish open water than hardwater so the ice fishing season does not hold that much allure to me. I enjoy ice fishing, pulling wriggling fish through a 10″ hole in 4 foot thick ice, but not as much as casting to a rising trout or feeling the quick jerk of a walleye off the side of the boat.
This opening season I had special plans. My buddy, “Klubber”, from Lethbridge Alberta had come to town and we had plans to fish the two opening days followed by attending The Who concert in town on the second night. The Who were fantastic by the way. Hard to imagine getting excited for some senior citizens on stage with microphones and guitars. But classic rock it was! We had the satellite radio hooked up in the boat and we were blasting the stereo all day long as well.
Back to the fishing. Our plans were to fly fish Lake Blackstrap, tossing big streamers for Pike and Walleye and jig for Perch. When Klubber’s travel plans changed, I found myself opening day morning at the local trout pond, fly rod in hand. Klubber would be in early afternoon and then we would assault the lake. It was a great morning for tossing small nymphs to surprisingly rising rainbow trout.
It was also the Official start to my 7 Flies That Catch Fish in Canada. When I arrived at the pond, I still had one of my own Super Jumbo Mosquito patterns tied on, which is the eighth fly of the seven flies (I know the math doesn’t work). There were a few rises already happening at 5:30 am so rather than changes flies, I gave the mosquito a try, knowing it’s more of a summer pattern. It did generate some interest, a few strikes, a few long distance releases, but no fish landed. So i switched to what should work better, a Hare’s Ear Nymph, fresh off the tying table. Soon after, a good hook up and a decent rainbow trout, for the trout pond (see above). a light south breeze and warming temperatures made for an easy Thursday morning. I managed to catch 4 more fish that morning and got the pre-season anticipation under control. Now I was looking forward to the afternoon, fly fishing for some hungry pike in a shallow bay.
Klubber showed up early afternoon and brought the wind with him from Lethbridge. Fly fishing was going to be tough. Getting from the boat launch to the spot we wanted was going to be tougher. We ended up deciding to pull up short of the intended spot and instead trolled and dropped anchor near a spot where I had caught plenty of Walleye last summer. We each hooked on to a small walleye while trolling so we decided to drop anchor.
We managed to land about 8 walleye, Klubber with the better hand that day, catching 5 of them, plus one small pike. We used a variety of lures, small spoons, jig heads, and a spinners. Seemed what was most successful was anything we tipped with the “Secret Magic Bait”, something discovered somewhat by accident. The one problem we had, in fairly windy conditions, was the anchor could not hod us in one spot. We kept drifting away from “The Spot”. every time we got in ‘The Spot”, we were catching fish. Bot without much for weed growth yet, the anchor was just dragging on the muddy bottom. We solved that problem on the second day (below).
We started the second day in the same way I started day one, casting flies to the rainbows at the trout pond. The wind was picking up from the west and it was few degrees cooler than yesterday. Fishing was slow, a couple for Klubber and one for me. We were going to give it another 5 minutes when the frequency of rises increased and after both tying on a Hare’s Ear Nymph, a double header. We each caught another 5 or so small rainbow trout over the next hour when we decided it was time for some coffee and breakfast, and to hook up for the lake. Coffee, toast, eggs, and a flat tire later and we were off to the lake for day two.
The wind was a little better direction today, but still too much to fly fish, two guys standing next to each other on a wobbly boat throwing big streamers with the wind seemed like a bad recipe. We tried trolling and jigging an area a bit further up the lake from where we had caught all the fish the day before. Nothing. Not a bite. Go back to Plan A. So we headed for The Spot. Again we had problems with the anchor dragging through the mud. We had a few bites. Lost some bait. We knew we wanted to be in The Spot. So we got inventive. If we couldn’t anchor to the lake bed, we will anchor to the shore.
We hooked the anchor in the branches of a tree on the water’s edge, let out the anchor rope, attached a couple of ski ropes, and let the boat drift out to The Spot. Some adjustments in how much rope and Fish On! It didn’t take long to hook the first walleye of the day. We had to take a picture of our anchoring technique as well the first fish it produced.
Shortly after releasing that walleye, there was a sense of excitement from the front of the boat. Klubber had a pretty good rod bend going. My first through was, of course, he hooked a rock. Then I saw the jerk, jerk of the rod tip and knew it was a fish. I also knew it was a good fish, a net-worthy fish. We landed the fish. A few quick pictures, and Klubber declared it the best Walleye of his life.
One of the last walleye we caught was a feisty little fish. I had a bite, missed, pulled up my jig to find most of the minnow gone. While I was reaching for the minnow tub, I dangled my jig just below the surface, 2 feet from the boat and this little walleye hammered it.
We had to shut down the fishing late afternoon, to give us time to get back to town, shower, eat and off to The Who. Classic Walleye fishing plus Classic Rock n’ Roll!
As I write, this I of course am pondering when I will next get to go fish. Today. Question answered.