Summer, 2016 is winding down but there’s still a good week before the reality of the season strikes as you get into another school year with the kids. Let’s hope you find a little time this weekend and through next week before the teachers insist the kids do actually have to hang up their rods and open the books…
Walleye fishing has been very good across lakes in the province the past few weeks. Unfortunately, it’s looking like things are going to be cooling down a bit over the next little while. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as it’s almost back to school time for a majority of kids, and we have been cooling off significantly at night for the past few weeks. Elk hunters have been excited about the cooler weather and the trees are already solidly turning yellow. Water temps are still in the high 60’s but with the next two weeks forecast to stay below 18 degrees with lots of rain and wind mixed in, temps will be dropping.
Walleye will be on the prowl to fatten up on an easy meal with all the signs of changing conditions. The bite will still be good with dropping temps, but it will be temperamental at times as intermittent wind and rain for the next week with 30 to 80 percent chance of rain most days. Weeds will start to die off soon as temps drop. Fishing around them will be quite good as shallower fish will be feeding more often – especially in areas that are adjacent to deeper water. Summer weed fish will be moving further and further in search of food as late season forage usually takes a beating from walleyes, pike, and perch feeding hard all summer.
Covering water with bottom bouncers and spinners tipped with crawlers, minnows, or plastics will still work extremely well and allow you to fish from 8 to 30 feet with relative ease. Deeper sloping flats with sharper secondary breaks adjacent to weeds will be prime locations to find fish as will humps and mid lake structure. You may need to search a bit more to find fish but once you do they will be starting to concentrate. Focus on those areas with the same presentation or slow down a bit to stay on top of them with jigs or live bait rigs. Spend the time to go over structure with your sonar until you mark fish, then drop your lines. If you have side scan capabilities, it will be even better as you can scan along weed lines and out deeper to find where fish are sitting.
The last major tournament in the province is coming up shortly, and anglers will begin pre fishing Slave Lake’s West basin out of Shaw’s Point starting on Monday. The Golden Walleye Classic will be held September 3rd & 4th and last year the tournament was won with 28.85 pounds. This year the fish are a bit skinnier on Slave so I anticipate that a weight in the high 27 pound range should suffice to take down the first place prize of $60 000. Anglers will mainly be pulling spinners, crankbaits, or jigging along weed edges. The depth restrictions don’t allow fishing deeper than 18 feet to make sure fish are as healthy as possible and not suffering from beaurotrama coming from deeper water. Rising water levels on Slave from recent rains may make fishing interesting this year with dirtier water and mud lines coming into play along with the cooler temperatures and wind in the forecast leading up to the event.
On another note, if you are concerned about the state of the walleye and pike fisheries on many of our lakes with under-utilized fish stocks in the north-eastern part of the province, there will be a meeting on September 7th at the Lac Bellevue Hall. Local MLA’s, biologists and government officials will be on hand and the meeting starts at 7pm. If you want your voice to be heard please attend!
With the slowdown upon us from summer peak to post summer the clock is winding down on busy season at boat ramps. Don’t forget to clean, drain, and dry your equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species in the province. Good luck on the water and boat safely with your life jackets on above idle speed, and your kill switches hooked up.
FISH TALES FLY SHOP
We took last week off – the Bow river report was starting to feel like a the repeat button had been hit on the playlist. Although much remains the same this week on the Bow, we figured we’d best revisit the conditions….
Flows have dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks and are currently sitting at around 70 cms in Calgary. River clarity is good. Water temperatures are OK – thankful for cooler nights. The fish are fat and feisty. It is mid-guide season on the river.
Fish continue to be focused on full meal deals like leeches and worms but they have started to look for a bit of variety. Caddis are still around and we’ve had some reports of fish looking up to them. Pick your days/conditions and you may have some success with fish looking up. Last week even saw a few hopper takes but these have not been consistent.
Be prepared for the weeds. They are abundant. Check your lines/flies regularly to clear them of debris – particularly when streamer and nymph fishing.
Flies to try:
Streamers: Skiddish smolts, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow, Kreelex Minnow, Urchin Bugger, Bow River Buggers, Clouser Minnows, leech patterns.
Nymphs: SJW, fruit rollup, gummy worm, prince nymphs, evil weevil, tungstuds, beadhead pheasant tails.
Dries: Dave’s hopper, Swisher’s Dancing Caddis, Peacock caddis.
Mountain Streams: Dave and Nancy have enjoyed a few days of exploring in Alberta and B.C. over the past couple of weeks. These stolen moments with the kids is what summer is all about. And although the fishing hasn’t been fast and furious we’ve really enjoyed engaging with our kids on the river. The mountain streams in Southwestern Alberta/Southeastern B.C. are in beautiful condition – clear and cool. Unfortunately, you can’t pick your weather and most of our outings have been on cool/overcast days – not ideal for Cutthroat. That said, the fish ate what we’d expect for this time of year – small ant patterns.
Flies to try:
Dries: fat alberta, flying ant, foam ant, parachute ant, drakes, lime trudes, yellow sally’s
East Slopes Trout & Grayling
If you live south of Sundre, you likely missed the flood of 2016 this week. Legitimately. So… sadly, the same beat that our rivers have held since July 5 or so continues. We’ve had a few bits of good water since then but the thunder rolls and the rain beats down. Right now, after watching the tiny Nordegg River balloon from 4m3sec to over 200m3sec, things remain incredibly high through the Red Deer, N Sask, Athabasca, Swan Hills regions. So, with that in mind, if you are trying to catch something through those regions, take streamers, fish a huge streamer with lots of weight out front and a trailing bugger or smaller streamer. Pound it through the back eddies and the softest water and you might catch a few.
Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum are the waters south of the Bow. Conditions are prime for trout spotting. We had a great high bank to spot from on the Bow yesterday and watched large, individual rainbows swimming the lengths of weedbeds. In those long, slow, out turn, high banks, those fish simply aren’t stationed. It’s rough to try to hope for stationed fish with no hatches, but if you get up on the banks to spot, you’ll pick a few trout off. The sizes they are this year… you won’t miss seeing them on bright, sunny days. So too most other waters south of the Bow. The water’s low and clear and honestly, those trout simply can’t hide once you become proficient at spotting. As the old saying goes, “once spot, it’s caught”.