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Make Your Own Fishing Adventure

 

There’s something inspiring to step outside and stretch the boundaries of your fishing and outdoor experiences. I do this every year, because I love new experiences, and there are literally countless new experiences out there, waiting for you or I to say, "Yes, let’s do this!" Last year hiking the Brazeau Lake Loop and catching rainbows in Brazeau, a virtually untouched backcountry lake, was a dream of mine fulfilled. Beautiful 15 to 17 inch rainbows caught off the shores of a huge backcountry lake, set in the heart of the mountains, after a 2 day hike in, it was the sort of stuff my dreams are made of.

A beauty backcountry rainbow.

A beauty backcountry rainbow.

I always, have this incredible desire to travel to the BC coast and fish the big waters for salmon, cod, halibut, snapper, prawns, crabs, and more. The BC coast is my playground. It is a place that is bountiful, and awe inspiring. I’ve had 600 plus pound sunfish swim under our boat. I’ve had killer whales pop up mere meters away. I’ve seen schools of coho salmon so thick that you could think you could walk across their backs. I’ve pulled prawn traps so full that the catch from a single trap would fill an entire 5 gallon bucket. I have marvelled on those dead calm days, where miles from shore, the ocean is as flat as a pancake and life is just about as sweet as it gets. I have a vast reservoir of amazing experiences from the ocean, and I am super excited to return and show this amazing place to my growing children, who are just starting to get their sea legs.

A hefty mint silver coho salmon that would make just about anybody’s day.

A hefty mint silver coho salmon that would make just about anybody’s day.

A fishing adventure is truly defined by you, and one of the greatest fishing adventures I ever had was the grayling adventure I took with my friend Jess, who at the time was studying genetics as they relate to Arctic Grayling populations across Alberta watersheds. And she just so happened to hire me to help her fish for grayling for an entire summer. I got to see more country in a single season, and more headwaters of more streams, than I probably did over the past 10 years combined. I found places that had bull trout, others that were full of Athabasca rainbows, and others still where elk frequented.

A beauty grayling caught deep in boreal country.

A beauty grayling caught deep in boreal country.

I remember this stunning pool on Wolf Creek that was deep in the heart of the boreal, surrounded by spruce, with a fallen spruce in its middle. While much of the creek was less than a few feet deep, this pool was big, in places over eight feet deep and as clear as clear can be, and in it, treasure. There were more adult grayling swimming in this one single pool than you could count. The light was just so, and I could see every detail, every colour of this amazing scene before me. It’s an image that will forever stay with me. A treasure found deep in the bush, in a place few would ever venture, but because we did, it was ours to experience.

Not all adventure means going far, or hard. There’s a sturgeon hole I occasionally walk to on the North Saskatchewan River. It has consistently produced Lake Sturgeon for my friends and I over the years, and it’s a place I revere. The sturgeon are huge by Alberta sportfish standards, they are strong, and they have this tendency to jump clear of the water in spite of their size. When a 50 plus inch fish launches itself skyward with your gear in tow, right in front of you, it’s awe inspiring. It really is that simple. Then you have to collect yourself, calm your nerves and actually engage the fish. Try to tire it out so you can get it to shore and have an up close and personal look at a fish that may just be older than you or I.

Camping out on the North Saskatchewan River, waiting for a sturgeon to bite.

Camping out on the North Saskatchewan River, waiting for a sturgeon to bite.

Sturgeon, because they are somewhat of a rarity on the North Sask, are really special. I remember most days I'd fish for them quite vividly. I smile in amazement, thinking back to my university days. Most of the gang from our lab, the Tonn-Paszkowski lab came out to try their hand at sturgeon fishing. Catching sturgeon is a low odds game, where a fish a day is decent fishing, so I gave them the speech, and told them if one fish makes it to shore, that it would be considered a group success and they bought into it and we went fishing. Well, we hooked up on eight, and landed seven. Just crazy success for an evening’s effort and six of these people had never caught a sturgeon before. Some days are just meant to be.

As daylight faded from the western horizon, the sturgeon bite turned on, becoming a night to remember.

As daylight faded from the western horizon, the sturgeon bite turned on, becoming a night to remember.

Sometimes a single species of fish will undoubtedly mean I am on my way for adventure. The Athabasca Rainbow comes to mind. It seems every time I am chasing this colourful native trout of the foothills and boreal, I am in beautiful, undisturbed country, where otters and mink are common, while footprints from others are not. In my travels I’ve discovered some amazing streams that have populations of this fantastically colourful trout, and each time I find one, it makes me happy, because I admire and respect this a fish that has evolved so perfectly to suit the backcountry streams that they often call home.

A hefty Athabasca River bull trout.

A hefty Athabasca River bull trout.

Then there is the big river bull trout. I’ve yet to catch a mega tank, but I’ve seen them, and you can bet your rod and reel that I will continue to make pilgrimages to places where the chance to catch one of these mega fish is very real. I’m talking about fish that push 3 feet long and 15 pounds. I had one such tank eat a whitefish I hooked on the Snaring. I was reeling in the fish, then the bottom moved, materializing into one gigantic bull trout and in a single gulp, my whitefish was gone, my line broke and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. I had another one follow the biggest spoon Len Thompson sells on the Athabasca River near Jasper. I watched a 3 foot plus bull chase my spoon up shallow, almost to my feet, where it turned sideways a mere rod length away, giving me an up close and personal view of one of the biggest bulls I’ve ever seen. All the while it was chasing my hook I was saying, "Bite you bugger bite," over and over again. I’ve fished the big pools of the North Sask below the dam and seen some strong evidence that mega fish liver there too, and the 28 to 30 inchers I’ve caught are more than enough motivation to keep me coming back.

The potential for mega bull trout on the Athabasca River is very real.

The potential for mega bull trout on the Athabasca River is very real.

I haven’t even touched on my pike, walleye, or perch adventures. Or the unbelievable lake whitefish action of Snipe, or the astounding numbers of grayling and whitefish that can be caught on the McLeod, or other such rivers for those willing to hike a few minutes. There really is unlimited adventures, and every year I make the effort to actively go out and seek them out, because these experiences enrich my soul and fill me with happy memories.



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) Pass the Salt
(2) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(3) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(4) Fall brings the big walleye out
(5) Hoppertunity Time
(6) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(7) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(8) Early Season Fly Fishing
(9) Walleye Logic
(10) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(11) Grammy’s Fish
(12) Top 10 Trout Lures
(13) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(14) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(15) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(16) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(17) There’s No Place Like Home
(18) A Golden Opportunity
(19) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(20) Un-matching the Hatch
(21) Alberta Super Bugs
(22) Glass is Back
(23) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(24) Speed Kills
(25) Entering the Twilight Zone
(26) Old Man River
(27) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(28) Small stream BT fishing
(29) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(30) In The Walleye Zone
(31) Zoo Trout
(32) Fly Selection for Beginners
(33) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(34) New Waters
(35) Big Bad Burbot
(36) Looking Back
(37) Out of Africa
(38) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(39) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(40) The Browns of Autumn
(41) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(42) Walleye Town
(43) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(44) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(45) Going With The Flow
(46) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(47) Swinging The Fences
(48) A View From The Aerie
(49) Dixieland Delight
(50) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(51) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(52) Montana's Cool Missouri
(53) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(54) Toothy Critters
(55) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(56) Top Ten Flies
(57) Northern Exposure
(58) Home Water Lessons
(59) Chicken Of The Sea
(60) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(61) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(62) Keep It Up!
(63) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(64) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood
(65) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(66) Hawg Holes
(67) Saltwater Salmon
(68) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(69) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(70) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(71) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(72) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(73) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(74) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(75) Fall Walleye
(76) Wet Flies
(77) Versatility the Key to Success
(78) Grayling of the Boreal
(79) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(80) Size Matters
(81) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(82) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(83) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(84) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(85) The Point Of It All
(86) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(87) Fall Fly Fishing
(88) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(89) Big River, Big Fish
(90) Bottom Bonanza
(91) Fishing Small Flies
(92) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(93) Four Seasons of the Bow
(94) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(95) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(96) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style
(97) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(98) Edge Walleye
(99) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(100) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(101) Four Corners – Four Waters
(102) Chasing Pothole Trout
(103) Springtime Stoneflies
(104) The Torrents of Spring
(105) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(106) Bust Them With Bait
(107) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(108) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(109) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(110) Terrestrials
(111) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(112) Rocky Mountain High
(113) Reading the clues
(114) Where the Trout Are: The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.
(115) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(116) Fly Fishing 101
(117) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(118) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(119) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(120) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(121) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(122) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(123) Trust Your Electronics
(124) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(125) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(126) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(127) Walleye can be Humbling
(128) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(129) Winter Flyfishing
(130) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(131) Hot Fall Pike Action
(132) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(133) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(134) Frequently Asked Questions
(135) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(136) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(137) Deep Water Perch
(138) Post Spawn Brookies
(139) A Fisher's Life
(140) The River's Last Stand
(141) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(142) Coho on the Coast
(143) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(144) Summer in the Mountains
(145) Peak Walleye Season
(146) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(147) Last Ice Rainbows
(148) The Burbot Event
(149) Tackle Matching
(150) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(151) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(152) The Lure of Brook Trout
(153) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(154) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(155) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(156) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(157) The Vesatile Plug
(158) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(159) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(160) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(161) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(162) Daily Fish Migrations
(163) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(164) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(165) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(166) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(167) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(168) The Fun in Ultra Light
(169) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(170) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(171) Never Stop Learning
(172) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(173) Jigging through the Ice
(174) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(175) Rainbows on Ice
(176) The Season of Ice Begins
(177) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(178) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(179) Facts On Cats
(180) West Coast Adventure
(181) June Walleye Frenzy
(182) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(183) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"
(184) "Northern Exposure"
(185) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(186) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(187) Man Overboard