Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting Started

Do you remember the first time you picked up a fly rod?  Last Saturday my first memories of fly fishing were all brought back to me.

Michael Short from Lets Go Outdoors

I was asked to film with a new TV show called Let’s Go Outdoors produced by Michael Short.  Mike had asked me to spend a day filming on Muir Lake, a small shallow productive water roughly 30 minutes west of home.  Water levels were up but Muir Lake had a suspected partial kill over the winter due to the drought years we had experienced prior to this spring, one of the wettest on record.

Water levels were up at Muir

Muir Lake was a rehabiltation project for a number of local groups and organizations including Trout Unlimited Canada through the Northern Lights Fly Tyers Trout Unlimited Edmonton chapter just over 10 years ago.  This conservation effort would be a backdrop for the show as I introduced Elma, a young lady to the art and mystique of fly fishing.  We would be fishing out of pontoon boats.  I would be in my Pac 9000 and Elma in my  Discovery IR10.  It would be Elma’s first time in a pontoon boat as well.

Elma is ready to go and only slightly frustrated!

Elma proved to be a terrific student who displayed great patience and a positive approach as she mastered a new series of skills including rowing a boat for the first time and casting.

As we filmed I walked her through the basic equipment, lines, rods, reels, waders, wading boots and flies. We then ventured to the water where I explained the dynamics of casting and how a fly rod differs from a traditional spinning or bait casting rod.

On the water, waiting for the indicator to go down.

Conditions weren’t great, the water was beginning to warm and fish had been moody at best according to the research I did prior. Suspending leeches under Quick Release Indicators would be the order of the day.  Indicators are not originally designed with fly fishing in mind.  Considering this fact I taught Elma the basics of roll casting and within minutes she was able to ‘flop’ out a reasonable cast and fish. Elma tried a few successful overhead casts as well but stuck with the roll cast.  The best bet for a weighted leech and indicator. By the end of the day she could easily get out almost 30 feet of line, more than enough for our presentation method.  Short casts work best when fishing indicators so any subtle takes aren’t missed.

We targeted a number of my favourite spots throughout the day but things were slow as I expected.  Talking to other anglers on the water no one was catching fish.  We finally ventured to my fall back spot, a deep hole in the western basin where we worked into 14 feet of water.  I opted for a balanced maroon Soft Blend Leech from my Stillwater Selections book on point and a #12 black and red Ice Cream Cone roughly 18 inches above.  Lady Luck was with me, as I managed to hook four fish over the course of the afternoon, the largest just over 20 inches.  Two came to the leech and two the chironomid.  A throat sample of the large fish revealed one tiny water boatman, one small leech and one caddis larva-all dead, a sign that fish weren’t actively feeding.  The leech/chironomid cocktail I presented always seems to work in tough conditions as these are two food sources that typically always receive an instinctive response.

Elma seems to have enjoyed her day on the water

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and introducing someone to fly fishing.  Hopefully Elma enjoyed it too.  Her smile at the end of the day suggested she did.  Elma promised to return to the water soon to continue her journey.

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