Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spring Parklands Report

As some of you are probably already aware, I make a point of travelling to the Parklands region of S.W. Manitoba each season.  This region currently offers some, if not the best, stillwater fly fishing in North America.  From the diversity of the species, the remoteness of the region and the average fish size the Parklands is tough to beat!

An average Parklands rainbow

Earlier in June I had the pleasure of hosting two groups of fly fishers for a weekend and week-long adventure respectively.  Based out of Arrow Lakes Lodge we visited a number of quality stillwaters within the region.  Most within 40 minutes of our base, two of the better lakes are less than 20 minutes away.

Providing a casting and presentation demonstration

Each day I provided a seminar appropriate to the region or to the specific opportunities possible on the chosen lake for the day.  Subjects included strike indicator techniques, how to fight big fish, stillwater entomology, forage fish tactics casting and presentation techniques to name a few.  At the end of each trip the group gathered their images and after a photography seminar we all relived the fish and experiences of the trip.  The final night always proves itself the most memorable.  Check out my Facebook page for my Parklands Spring 2011 album for additional photos.

Bob and Karen Vanderwater

Good friends Bob and Karen Vanderwater provide invaluable assistance ensuring these hosted trips become a successful reality, both in the months prior and over the course of the event.  Frankly, I would be hard pressed to do it without them.  Their spirit, energy and organizational skills help keep all of us on track.
While on the water I spent time with each student as we worked together to unlock the challenges each lake threw our way.  Spending time with each student is perhaps my most memorable part of each trip.  I get a chance to get to know each student a little bit better and we both benefit from the inevitable exchange of ideas, information and experiences.  The look on their faces as they release the trout of a lifetime is the icing on my cake!

Now that's a rainbow!

The weather for the 10 days I was there started perfectly, sunny skies and light winds.  But as the weekend passed into the week our weather pattern shifted.  A good day always seemed to be followed by a rainy blustery day.  The up and down conditions did not deter the group from Spokane who joined Bob, Karen and I for the week.  Seasoned stillwater fly fishers, this group donned their rain gear or waders, shrugged their shoulders and soldiered on.  Our day on Pybus reminded me more of coastal steelhead or salmon fishing than the Parklands.  By midday I gave up trying to bail my pram as the steady deluge made it pointless. 

Our last day on Tokaryk, a lake we re-visited by popular demand, the wind blew from the N.E. at over 50 km/h.  Despite the ocean like swells trout responded with unbridled enthusiasm for our leech and baitfish patterns suspended beneath indicators.  The swells pitched our patterns aggressively and that’s just the way Tokaryk’s large rainbows and browns liked them.  The takes at times were just down right scary!

Karen's 28-inch brown

Fish size was large, typical for the Parklands. We had numerous fish in the 6-8 pound range.  A 23-inch rainbow for example, weighed between 6-7 pounds!  A number of nine pound fish were caught along with one 10 pound monster.  Karen took the largest brown of the trip on the final day of the week long trip.  It measured out at 28 inches!  Also during the trip Jason from Spokane caught the largest tiger I have seen to date while he was with me in my boat.  It measured 27 inches and topped 7 pounds!

Jason's 27-inch, 7lb tiger

I began the trip using 3X 8.2 pound FlouroFlex Plus fluorocarbon tippet which did a great job.  But there were a few instances where I had to switch to 2X 12 pound FlourFlex Plus to tame some of the Parklands trout I crossed path with.  We had one fish that I estimated in excess of 8 pounds snap the hook clean off the bend on a #12 3XL black and red Ice Cream Cone!

Chironomids and some caddis were hatching in decent numbers.  We apparently missed a spectacular chironomid hatch on Patterson Lake by a day.  The volume shucks that were clustered together on the surface the following day was almost biblical.  There were also clouds of fathead minnows gathered in the shallows.  The browns and rainbows seemed to enjoy mauling them, almost at will.

The shallows were thick with schools of fathead minnows

While on Patterson my first student asked if I would show him how to fish chironomid pupa without an indicator using the traditional floating line long leader or ‘naked’ technique.  Since chironomids were definitely on the menu we ventured out into deeper water targeting the sloped edge of the main lake basin.  Double anchored parallel to the ridge that ran between a main lake point and the western end of the island we targeted water between 15-18 feet deep.  I used a leader set up that was at least 25% longer than the depth of water we were fishing, 21 feet.  A #12 black and red ice cream cone went on the point and a #12 Chromie hung off my sliding dropper some 4 feet above the point fly.  After making a long cast roughly 30 degrees to my left I let the wind swing and drift the fly line.  I let the flies sink 30 seconds before beginning a painstakingly slow hand twist retrieve.  Conditions were calm.  I concentrated on the fly line, watching either the tip or a slight ‘squiggle’ in the line for a take.  Almost every take was seen before it was felt.  After two hours I had my first convert.

The ‘naked’ technique proved itself as deadly as it ever was.  Making me wonder why I don’t use this method more often.  It also works great for imitating mayfly and damsel nymphs, caddis pupa, even leech patterns.  By the end of both the weekend and week-long events almost all of my students had had the chance to take fish using the ‘naked’ technique.  Some had such confidence in the method that they discontinued using indicators for the balance of the trip.  I encourage you to give this method a try.  he largest tiger trout of the trip resulted from this presentation technique.  If you check out one of my previous blog entries you can find out more about this deadly stillwater presentation technique.

We are already planning on returning to the Parklands in 2012 for both a weekend and week-long hosted trip in both the spring and fall.  I will be returning in September with another group.  These trips have proven extremely popular selling out in a matter of weeks just through word of mouth.  If you are interested in joining Bob, Karen and me in 2012 let me know right away.  Our hosted trips include accommodation all food, seminars and one on one time with me on the water.

1 comment: