East Slope Trout & Grayling
Dave Jensen, Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine
There’s going to be a massive harvest moon tomorrow night (Fri, Sept 16). Look out for that one.
Folks, get out fishing this weekend. You only have to look at the 2 week forecast for Nordegg to see what’s coming… so do what you have to do to get up to the mountain streams one more time. Sure, we’re see 20C weather in October, but the water’s going to be mighty cold by then again.
Generally, our rivers and streams are in prime shape. Warm fall air and a few great hatches. It’s truly hopper season south. Fish are dropping to their wintering locations and generally easily found in waist depth or deeper. The days are typical now: start deep and slow and gradually move up through the water column. It’s not a rocket science this time of the year as fish are again locked into those pockets. If you aren’t getting fish, slow down your presentation, get deeper, or go smaller. You will catch more fish, consistently, with a #18 pheasant tail dead drift 9 feet deep in a 10 foot deep pool than ripping streamers. For my $, as fall goes on, the same will be true for those big bull trout as well. They get a little gun-shy on the big stuff but man are they simpletons for the small stuff if you take the time.
Hatches: hoppers; fall caddis; slate-winged olives; tan caddis; a few golden stones still linger; mahogany dun mayflies; a few tricos; blue-winged olives; water boatmen; midges; flying ants on sunny days are hitting the air in droves.
I almost led with the worm-hole of discussion that is the discovery & confirmation of Whirling Disease. I’m sitting on that one for another couple of weeks. You aren’t going to like my thoughts. Honestly, they have little to do with the specifics of Whirling Disease itself. Today, I’ll quote my Fisheries Instructor from college: “Our fish are in trouble”. I do promise to comment on the whole in a couple of weeks once I’m able to present in the manner I hope can make some impact, have some reach. In the meantime, Nick has it below.
By Nick Sliwkanich
- In the bright sun, boatmen should be firing. The thing with boatmen is to remember that they don’t entice strikes all day, but should see some fantastic action for 2-4 hours a day, with some sporadic action all day. It also may not happen to produce in all parts of the lake. You may find one or two bays that produce with a lot of dead water. Look for boatmen hitting the surface (the look like rain drops), or for surface action from trout.
- Leeches do well when nothing else is, but try not to go too large. A #10-12 is a good bet, but don’t overlook a #14. Black, olive, or brown is good, but maroon/blood-brown has been best for me and my friends the last couple weeks. The best part is that we’ve done well in less than 10ft of water.
- Scuds will work during the worst weather, which we won’t see this weekend. Regardless, a #12 Stillwater Nymph is always a god bet. I like to fish this fly in less than 8ft of water with a slow intermediate or hover line. Don’t fish this fly too quickly, scuds aren’t fast critters.
- Baitfish… fall is the best time of year for them, as they are the largest and most numerous they’ll be all season. A Woolly Bugger is a good bet, as is a Seal Bugger, small Clouser, Muddler, or just a generic brown/olive streamer. Fish them in tight to the shoreline, reeds, or woody debris. Again, even though we think minnows are fast, it’s a mistake to go too fast. The easiest targets for greedy trout are wounded or dumb, and aren’t moving very quickly. Often, a slow hand twist is the best retrieve.
- Lastly, daphnia needs a mention. This zooplankton can be gobbled up by the mouthful, with trout exerting next to nil effort to get that mouthful.
If nothing obvious is happening, a Tequila Booby or a leech (olive or olive/orange) is a great bet. Try dead slow or really fast, and try to find a pattern. All of these food stuffs will now be found in less than 12ft of water, and in as little as 4ft. That being said, a fair amount of action can be found suspended in depths up to 21ft.
The last couple weeks have also shown another trend. I feel it important to mention not to fish within 40 or 50m of another angler unless invited to do so. Trolling right past someone is a no-no. The highlight last weekend was watching three float tubes (different parties) troll within a couple of yards each of an anchored canoe within 5 minutes. Nothing like having 4/5 boats on a 40ac lake in one small 20m2 bit of water. Common courtesy says to give folks space, there is plenty of it. It isn’t like someone is getting fish on the only hot spot. Our lakes are very heavily stocked, incredibly uniform in structure, and trout are found all over. If you like to anchor, don’t cut off a troller or anchor near someone already set in position. If you troll, give a wide berth (twice what the anglers are casting) around their boat, in all direction.
Have fun out there, wash off your boat, help others, and enjoy the beautiful weather we have coming this weekend. Nick Sliwkanich
NOTE: Chris shared that while the weather is great and conditions stable, the tactics and locations from last week’s forecast remain the same.
Covering water to find active fish is key this time of year. Cranking or pulling bottom bouncers and spinners works best to locate pods of fish and after you catch a few fish slow down your presentation and vertical jig in areas where you are finding fish stacked up. Jigs tipped with minnows, crawlers or leeches if you have them, won’t take long to get sucked in by a walleye especially along secondary drop offs or on mid lake structure. Triggering aggressive fish with Jigging Rapalas and Northland Puppet Minnows is a great option to seek out and target bigger walleyes on the sonar in deeper water. Their weight allows them to drop quickly and the baitfish profile along with their darting action triggers fish to strike. Dropping down these lures over-top of good arches especially when water temperatures start to cool is always a good bet for some nice fish.
Some good fish are still able to be found along weeds that are still quite thick but a majority of fish will be found deeper this time of year. Late summer angling is one of my favorite times of the year to hit the water. It’s a transitional period on the backside of the summer peak period with dropping water temps but not yet into fall fishing mode as lakes are pre-turnover it’s a great time to hit the water on nice days to get into good numbers of fish. Shoreline trees start turning yellow and gold in greater numbers and cool fresh mornings usually won’t see many boats on the water with summer vacation being over and kids now back in school. Enjoy the warm days while they last and don’t forget to clean, drain, and dry your boats and equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species. Also with reduced boat traffic on lakes make sure to wear your life jackets and keep your kill switches hooked up. Good luck on the water!