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Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

 

There are lakes, streams and rivers we frequent. These are bodies of water, which are familiar to us and over time we've come to know their unique characteristics and what it takes to catch fish. It's good to have these places tucked away in your back pocket, call them home waters, but it's also good to make a fresh start and try something totally new.

It was with this spirit of adventure my buddy Ayr and I made the three and a half-hour journey to Jasper National Park this past March. The warm temperatures made being outside downright balmy and rumors of bull trout being caught in the flowing waters of the Athabasca was all the temptation we needed. Besides, the thought of casting to fish surrounded by stunning scenery and being visited by the occasional rocky mountain sheep or elk held a lot of appeal. It sure beat another hardwater trip looking through a hole in the ice.

Loaded with the latest spoons, plugs and flies, we parked the truck at a roadside turnout and made our way to the river. Walking downstream we came to a promising pool, easily the size of a football field. That's the great thing about fishing this river. There's no real guesswork. Pools are large and if we were lucky, so would be the fish.

We both put on a couple of Rapala plugs that imitated a rocky mountain whitefish, hoping to cash in on the bull's preference for eating the whites. Rockies, as they are often called, abound in the Athabasca and they comprise the majority of a bull trout's diet. Usually if whitefish are around, bull trout won't be far away.

It took all of ten or fifteen minutes and Ayr's rod was bent double. The fight was short and soon he brought an eighteen-inch bull trout. A few photos later, some congratulations and we sent the fish on its way. I was casting a Rapala long cast minnow and hooked up myself. Soon I held a slightly smaller twin to Ayr's fish. The day couldn't have started better. We progressed our way through the pool and hooked up twice more, with one fish nearly ripping the rod from Ayr's hands. It was a big fish, but got off before we got a look.

After a couple great hours on that pool, we opted to change locations and see if we could change our luck on the bigger bulls. We came to a deep pool right beside the highway where clear water gave way to a deep turquoise color. It begged to be fished. We set up shop and went to work. Our plugs, spoons, then flies were all rejected in turn. Knowing there were likely rockies in the same pool, I switched up to a small nymph fished on bottom, using a nail as weight and tying the fly off as a dropper. I got a couple bites, but missed them both. With no other fish to our credit and the sun settling behind the westward mountains we packed up and headed across a bridge.

On the other side of the river both of us stopped at a small pool hardly worth a glance. We threw a couple casts anyway and were immediately hooked up on bull trout. Over the next hour we hooked seven bulls, bringing four to shore. We looked at each other in disbelief. Here we'd spent the better part of the day working what we felt to be the best water, but all this time the bulls were hiding in the small water. No matter how often I go, I'll never stop learning and this experience was no exception.

Chasing bull trout in March was a lot of fun and by thinking outside the box, Ayr and I had a great experience. The amazing part about fishing the Athabasca was the total lack of fishermen and fisherwomen. For covering an easy five or six miles of river, we never saw another sole. This is big water with stunning scenery and loads of elbowroom. Still no others came to share it. Good for us.

Likewise, every year I always make time to try something new. Whether it's a river close by or a great perch lake four hours away, you can bet that sooner or later I'll find my way onto its shores. This summer I'm off to Cold Lake to catch lake trout. I've never done that before, which is surprising because Cold Lake is a mere three hours from Edmonton. I routinely travel much further afield, but it will be great to finally go. Word is that the lakers are plentiful and ten pounders are common. That's more than enough motivation to get me to go. See you on the water.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Old Man River

(2) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River

(3) Small stream BT fishing

(4) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(5) In The Walleye Zone

(6) Zoo Trout

(7) Fly Selection for Beginners

(8) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(9) New Waters

(10) Big Bad Burbot

(11) Looking Back

(12) Out of Africa

(13) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(14) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(15) The Browns of Autumn

(16) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(17) Walleye Town

(18) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(19) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(20) Going With The Flow

(21) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(22) Swinging The Fences

(23) A View From The Aerie

(24) Dixieland Delight

(25) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(26) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(27) Montana's Cool Missouri

(28) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(29) Toothy Critters

(30) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(31) Top Ten Flies

(32) Northern Exposure

(33) Home Water Lessons

(34) Chicken Of The Sea

(35) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(36) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(37) Keep It Up!

(38) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(39) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(40) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(41) Hawg Holes

(42) Saltwater Salmon

(43) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(44) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(45) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(46) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(47) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(48) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(49) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(50) Fall Walleye

(51) Wet Flies

(52) Versatility the Key to Success

(53) Grayling of the Boreal

(54) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(55) Size Matters

(56) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(57) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(58) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(59) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(60) The Point Of It All

(61) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(62) Fall Fly Fishing

(63) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(64) Big River, Big Fish

(65) Bottom Bonanza

(66) Fishing Small Flies

(67) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(68) Four Seasons of the Bow

(69) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(70) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(71) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(72) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(73) Edge Walleye

(74) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(75) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(76) Four Corners – Four Waters

(77) Chasing Pothole Trout

(78) Springtime Stoneflies

(79) The Torrents of Spring

(80) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(81) Bust Them With Bait

(82) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(83) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(84) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(85) Terrestrials

(86) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(87) Rocky Mountain High

(88) Reading the clues

(89) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(90) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(91) Fly Fishing 101

(92) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(93) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(94) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(95) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(96) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(97) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(98) Trust Your Electronics

(99) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(100) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(101) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(102) Walleye can be Humbling

(103) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(104) Winter Flyfishing

(105) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(106) Hot Fall Pike Action

(107) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(108) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(109) Frequently Asked Questions

(110) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(111) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(112) Deep Water Perch

(113) Post Spawn Brookies

(114) A Fisher's Life

(115) The River's Last Stand

(116) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(117) Coho on the Coast

(118) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(119) Summer in the Mountains

(120) Peak Walleye Season

(121) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(122) Last Ice Rainbows

(123) The Burbot Event

(124) Tackle Matching

(125) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(126) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(127) The Lure of Brook Trout

(128) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(129) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(130) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(131) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(132) The Vesatile Plug

(133) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(134) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(135) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(136) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(137) Daily Fish Migrations

(138) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(139) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(140) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(141) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(142) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(143) The Fun in Ultra Light

(144) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(145) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(146) Never Stop Learning

(147) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(148) Jigging through the Ice

(149) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(150) Rainbows on Ice

(151) The Season of Ice Begins

(152) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(153) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(154) Facts On Cats

(155) West Coast Adventure

(156) June Walleye Frenzy

(157) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(158) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(159) "Northern Exposure"

(160) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(161) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(162) Man Overboard