Welcome to fall! While we enjoyed an amazing spring season, summer certainly proved that we generally only get 4 months of growth in Alberta any given year. While we might have been on the top end of that this year by a touch, no doubt the coming winter will send things back to average in 2017. Winter’s not too far away now, so get out when you can – those leaves will be gone soon enough!
Be sure to check out the free summer-fall Digital Magazine to the right hand menu. It’s loaded with photos and videos for late-summer through the fall season!
East Slope Trout & Grayling
Dave Jensen – Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine
Last week’s forecast was quite pessimistic through waters north of the Bow drainage, and all “Sunny Ways” from the Bow to the US border. Well, this week even Justin Trudeau might be able to find some sunny ways for Fri – Sat as conditions are improving north of the Bow and certainly holding nicely south. Prognosis positive. 🙂 Let’s get to it:
Hatches: hoppers; blue-winged olives; slate-winged olives (high country); a few green drakes; fall cadddis; water boatman; backswimmers (yes, fish eat them); caddis; mahogany duns; a few pmds; flying ants are heavy on the next warm, sunny day; beetles.
While the main Ram is dirty, the N Ram has fishable water. The tributary waters of the Blackstone, Ram, Berland, Little Smoky, and others could produce very well and at least the upper 1/2 of these drainages are fishable as well. There might not be great terrestrial action in the cold weather hangover of the past week, however, hatches of blue-winged olive mayflies will come off in droves Sunday. And this time of the year you could clean house with dry flies and with small dropper nymphs.
If you spin-fish, instead of working through a pool quickly, stop in at the flies section of your fishing shop and pick up a few small bead head nymphs like hare’s ear and pheasant tail nymphs and hand these 3 to 6 feet under a slip bobber. You’ll be shocked at just how many more fish you can catch going slow, small, and deep. Once you work the run this way, then try your spinner blades and other hardware to finish off the active trout. Changing things up to match the conditions may produce.
Streamers & spoons, Raps, etc are producing for bigger bull trout, browns, and rainbows. Even cutthroat will take meaty offerings, especially in higher, murkier water as we have right now. If you can safely get onto the river and wade, pull out the big stuff and hit the pools and deeper troughs. The fish are there, you simply have to get deep and go for it. We just posted this video today and no matter if you spin fish or fly fish, it is applicable to most waters in Alberta:
South of Calgary, this is sight-fishing season and the low, clear water will reveal all to those who take 5 minutes to walk up a hillside and look down on the water. 5 minutes on a 10 foot vantage point and you’ll spot the best fish in the pool in many cases. And once spot, it’s caught. Right? Sight-nymphing is incredible this time of the year. Hopper-dropper fishing is also very effective in riffled water. But some of those southern waters are extremely worked over – those fish have been tucked into the exact same holding water for months now and are sitting ducks. You might have to pull out the small nymphs and work those fish slowly, somewhat painfully slow at times. But you will get them. They’re fish, they have to eat, it’s what they do! If new to sight-fishing in trout rivers, this video production will set you back $5 to rent it for 24 hrs or $10 to own to watch as often as you’d like. Worth it to open a whole new world of opportunity.
September long weekend has come and gone once again. This year she was cool and windy on Saturday and warmed to shorts weather on Monday. We never really know what we will get this time of year and any hot days are a big bonus. After having a pretty wet last month or so the warmth was appreciated although Slave Lake going completely flat calm was not what the anglers fishing the Golden Walleye Classic had hoped for on Monday. A little bit of walleye chop would of definitely helped things out as the bite slowed down massively from Sunday. Scotty Dahlgren and Craig Hutton managed to prevail take down a first place prize of $44,400. They had a monster bag on day one of 15.30 pounds and sat in second place after day one. Day two the weights were down considerably but Scotty & Craig managed to scrape together four fish for 12.70 pounds and a winning weight of 28 pounds even. Second place went to Peter Caputo and partner James Lauman whose consistent weights above 13 pounds each day netted 27.45 pounds of walleye. Rounding out third Justin Meckler and Dylan Filewich had the big weight on day two and moved up the standings with a monster weigh in early on day two of 9.40 and ended up with 27.40 pounds total.
At Right: Scotty Dahlgren & Craig Hutton along with Ken Sperling & Dolly Wally presenting the first place cheque.
This week the weather is looking partly overcast with winds blowing in the 20 to 30 km/h range with temps in the high teens Saturday and then cooling off massively overnight sunday to about 10 degrees during the day. It wouldn’t be surprising if we end up with our first big, wide-spread frost in rural areas on Sunday with overnight temps in the low single digits. The rest of the week however is looking much warmer with highs up to the low 20’s later in the week. Water temperatures are currently in the high 50’s and will continue to slowly drop further with the cool overnight temps.
Fishing will be good if you can get out on smaller lakes but larger lakes like Slave or Cold will be pretty lumpy over the weekend. 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!
Fish Tales Fly Shop
Hard to believe the first week of September is already gone! Kids are back to school which may free up time for some. Take advantage of it if you can as there is some very good fishing to be had.
Bow river fish continue to be in prime condition. Rainbows are fat and feisty and beautifully-coloured at the moment. Be prepared for some serious scraps as the fish are strong and happy with the cool water. Don’t be discouraged if your hooked to landed ratio drops substantially that’s just the way it is in the fall!
Browns are eating well to pack in a few extra calories before spawning. The guides are noticing the browns already on the move and they are definitely putting on their best buttery suit based on some of the pictures we are seeing out there. We are pretty sure it will be an early spawn this year so be aware of that.
In general the fishing continues to be good to better-than-good depending a bit on weather conditions/temperature. We’re still recommending subsurface be your go-to method – streamers and nymphing will work. Be aware of the weeds and ready to remove them regularly when fishing below the surface. If streamer fishing, sometimes a good “slap” of the fly line on the water will rid you of the vegetation just be sure to get rid of all of it.
Hopper/dropper rigs have been working for those willing to stick with it. Be patient and you will have some nice eats on the hopper but you have to put in your time. Try a prince nymph, tungstud, or other similar tungsten bead head nymphs, or a truer water boatman pattern as your dropper of choice.
Nymphs: Wire san juan worm, chenille worm, fruit roll up in black or red, peacock leech, Wagler’s boatman, prince nymph, tungstud, evil weevil, lightning bug, or copper john black or red.
Streamers: Marabou clouser, skiddish smolt, coffey’s sparkle minnow, wooly bugger, bow river bugger, leech patterns. If you’re fishing a double streamer rig (see this video on a double streamer set up), you may want to try one dark and one lighter in color and be sure to switch up your retrieval. Some of these fish are down right aggressive and will strike a fly that’s really pushing through the water. Watch this video for some streamer techniques.
Dries: Dave’s hopper, Yeti hopper, Adams (BWO’s are in full swing we hope some fish decide to eat them off the top), flying ant patterns are always a possibility this time of year as well.
Central Trout Lakes
By Nick Sliwkanich – The Drag Free Drift
NOTE: Nick’s forecast remains the same. He sent a note to say that this coming weekend should prove to be good Fri & Sat, with boatmen likely bringing trout to the surface (here’s hoping!) with some great reactions to the falling bugs. Trout will respond to boatmen smacking the water, coming over for an easy meal. By Sunday, however, the massive forecast weather change will curtail that event and the cold weather and steep barometric weather change will slow the feed. Trout will come shallow but will focus on scuds, leeches, and other slower insects/food.
“The best stillwater trout angling of the year is upon us. A frosty start to fall has the fish, bugs, lakes, and anglers acting accordingly. Backswimmers, leeches, shrimp, and baitfish are back on the top of the menu, and while a few straggling hatches will no doubt occur, pay most attention to these staple food sources. While summertime trout hold in deep water, foregoing high volumes of food stuffs in favour of, you know, oxygen and breathing. 🙂
Heavy feeding was a sun up and sun down affair, but now is morphing back into an all-day smorgasbord. Yes, daybreak and sunset will typically see heightened feeding, but you will typically see extended feeding periods throughout the day. With cooling water temperatures, trout will again begin to freely feed on the shoals of the lake, near shoreline reeds, or near other structure in water less than 10ft deep, where light readily penetrates to the lake bed. As fall progresses, the feeding periods throughout the day will be longer, and the fish will be shallower, until we peak around two weeks before freeze-up.
With fish feeding shallower and on predictable food sources, our lives become quite easy, and using three basic tactics we will successfully catch trout.
- One: suspend a leech, scud, boatman, or baitfish pattern under an indicator. Start about a foot off the bottom and experiment from there. Sometimes even a foot is too high, but other times you can get trout just a couple of feet from the surface. That being said, 1-3ft from the bottom is most consistent.
- Secondly, a slow sinking line coupled with a leech, scud, baitfish, boatman, booby, or other attractor will entice active fish to chase, and you can successfully fish one level in the water column for a long distance.
- Lastly, a fast sinking line in shallow (less than 10 or 12ft) can fish a booby with deadly effectiveness. Personally, I like to use two flies at once, but may use three if I’m desperate or want to experiment.
Fall is often quite windy, so I like to use a relatively stiff 8 or 10lb fluorocarbon leader, which helps turn over wind resistant flies. My first fly is usually 8-10ft from my fly line, and the second fly a further 4-6ft.
- Water boatmen are the hatch that many fly anglers wait for on stillwaters. Use a foam fly, a sinking line and a sporadic retrieve, or, use a floating line, a weighted fly, and an indicator (check out my article in last year’s Digi Mag for a more detailed piece on boatman fishing).
- Leeches: use a stripped fly on a sinking line, and pair it with a Stillwater Nymph, attractor fly, or shrimp pattern.
- Boobies are fantastic flies, white/white, or black with Chartreuse eyes are my favourites. Keep all the flies between #8-12, and you won’t be far wrong.
Fall trout are the fattest of the year, aggressive, and lakes are often empty as many people hang up the rods and pull out the shotguns starting in September. Even if you enjoy hunting, don’t miss out on the best fishing of the year. It’ll be starting now, and we have another 8 or 10 weeks to look forward to. Don’t miss out. Good fishing.”