Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Paradox

For me the fall season is a paradox.  Mother Nature takes out her paint brush decorating trees with beautiful yellows, oranges and reds all contrasted against magnificent deep blue skies.  At the same time fish sensing the onslaught of winter cruise the shallows consuming just about everything they come across.  The days are numbered.  In north central Alberta any warm days we get after Halloween are a blessing.  Trout and some of the largest pike of the season are on my radar.  I will be trying to get all fishing I can in before it becomes cold, white and hard again. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Fall colors are spectacular
In late September I wrapped up my final shoot for The New Fly Fisher on the North Saskatchewan River near my home in the Edmonton area chasing pike, walleye and goldeye with Keith Rae from Get Hooked Adventures.  The weather was spectacular as the fall colors were just beginning to manipulate the landscape.

A definite no fingers zone!
Navigating the river via Keith’s comfortable jet boat we tossed streamers on sinking lines along the current edges for walleye and goldeye and in the slower reaches floating lines and large flies pulled some large 35-inch and longer pike.  The savage grab of a pike on the fly is addictive and I recommend everyone give it a try.

Keith Rae and I enjoying fly fishing for Pike on the North Saskatchewan
At the same time water boatman and backswimmers begin their annual mating and migration flights.  These insects become active in the mid to late afternoon when the sun’s rays warm the shallows and get them going.  I spent a day on a local lake.  Fishing began slow and sporadic at best.  Random acts of kindness if you will.  About four o’clock we began to see the first aggressive swirls of the day.  Fish were working in and along the deep edge of the weed beds targeting backswimmers as they left the water and when they returned.  Casting foam bodied Ultimate Boatman on hover and floating lines was spectacular.

A fat fall rainbow taken on an Ultimate Boatman

Throat pump analysis revealed backwimmers were on the menu
Takes often came as the fly landed, its arrival.  I recall one large trout that took my fly in a graceful but aggressive porpoise rise.  If the fly isn’t taken upon landing or on the drop a brisk hand twist or 4-5 strip retrieve typically garners a strong response.  Large trout hooked in water less than five feet deep often go berserk.  When the ‘fall’ is in full swing boatman and back swimmer patterns offer some of the most memorable fishing of the season.

I had the chance to check out Stoney Lake before the students arrived
The first weekend in October saw me at Stoney Lake Lodge in British Columbia.  Good friend Brian Chan and I put on our first Learning with the Pros-Advanced session in partnership with B.C. Outdoors Sports Fishing magazine.  Fourteen ardent fly fishers joined Brian, Editor Mike Mitchell and I.  Some of the students came from as far away as Ontario and Wisconsin!  Both the weather and fish cooperated as students spent time on the water with Brian and I after each mornings seminars.  Boatman, , backswimmer, leech, dragon nymph patterns and Boobies all took their share of fish.  From the feedback we received everyone enjoyed their experience and the accommodation and food was fantastic.  Saturday nights prime rib dinner was one of the most memorable feasts I have ever experienced.

After the weekend school I stuck around for a couple of days and filmed two episodes for BC Outdoors Sports Fishing new television show.  This new show begins airing later on this fall on WFN and a number of B.C. networks. 

So if you can get out this fall and experience some fishing for yourself, it won’t be long before the winter is upon us.  Our memories will be the only things left to carry us through the cold months and at the fly tying station.

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