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My McLeod

 

The McLeod is my premier mountain whitefish stream. It is also a great grayling fishery, with the occasional rainbow and bull trout thrown in. On hot days, it’s the family swimming hole. It’s clear, clean, cool water and abundance of pools is perfect for a summertime dip. On those warm days, I put on my life jacket, help my little ones get their life jackets on, and we have at it. This is about as refreshing as it gets, and a perfect way to beat the heat.

The McLeod is unassuming, and at some point when I wasn’t looking it really grew on me. And stuck. It’s become one of my favourite destinations. The section of stream I like most is west of Edson, and filled with riffles, pools, rocks and runs, running over cobble, and prolifically productive. In and around those rocks are sculpins, dragon fly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, caddis fly larva, and plenty of stone fly nymphs, especially the larger black and the golden ones. It’s a buffet for foraging fish, which is probably why McLeod River mountain whitefish are as about as healthy as they come.

The McLeod is beautifully scenic.

The McLeod is beautifully scenic.

Ten to fifteen inchers are common, and every now and then we connect with a brute that hovers around that magical 20 inch mark. And if all I did was toss a bobber with a bead head prince nymph on the end, I would catch all of the fish I mentioned above. But if I adjusted that bobber so the bead head nymph drags on bottom, I would catch a whole lot more, especially whitefish. While the bead head prince is a great nymph, tying on a bead head pheasant tail, or a bead head zug bug will also do the trick, and they will do it very well.

There is a healthy mountain whitefish population in the McLeod.

There is a healthy mountain whitefish population in the McLeod.

On the flipside of dunking nymphs, there is a well established dry fly game for grayling, and they willingly come up for pretty much any dry fly floated over their noses. They are very opportunistic. If, however, I am looking for a couple, or few patterns to have with me, it would be a parachute adams, a caddis, a light cahill, and a foam ant. Yes, for real on the ant thing. For whatever reason, grayling seem to loss all self-control when an ant comes floating by.

These flies and presentations will get you into the whitefish and grayling game quite handily, but if you are looking to get more quality bites, and perhaps more bites from bulls and bows, set the small stuff aside and chuck streamers. Most any streamer pattern will do, but something that looks like a fish in the one to two inch range is a definite winner. One day I decided to go big and chucked an oversize salmon streamer and had a massive 22 plus inch trout come out of the depths and smoke it. I missed the hookset and that was that, but it showed me that it is worth chucking big stuff for the big bite.

Streamer patterns get good bites.

Streamer patterns get good bites.

For the spin guy that wants to forgo fishing flies, a small panther martin spinner is great, as is a small Len Thompson spoon. Both will generate bites, but as is the case with most hardware, their staying power is limited. Their flash and action means a quick response, and there will be a flurry of action at the start of fishing a pool or run, but when that dries up, and it will, the best course of action is to get your walking boots on and head to the next pool. If, during you casting, you see a big trout or grayling show interest, and this is where polarized glasses are worth their weight, rest them and come back later and toss something different. A lot of times you will catch that fish.

The most productive way to catch fish on the McLeod, though, is by getting your fly, plug, spinner, or spoon down to the bottom. Mountain whites make a living rooting things out of the rocks, so that is where they are looking for food. The same can be said for all the other fish. They too, look for most meals along the rocky bottom. And while drifting a bead head fly deep behind a bobber is an excellent method for prospecting and catching fish, there are other ways.

Fish close to the bottom and the bites will come.

Fish close to the bottom and the bites will come.

If the river is wide and the pool is large, I will cast out what I call my nail and nymph rig. It’s the same nymphs I mentioned before, but now they’re tied off a dropper a foot or so up the line, using a 3 to 4 inch nail as weight. This rig assures me that my gear is on bottom and ticking along, exactly where trout, grayling, and whitefish live. The rig will ride the bottom substrate, occasionally hanging up, allowing the fly to hold a little while more in the strike zone.

If the water is small and I’m fishing pretty tight, that is close to where I’m standing, I’ll run a split shot and nymph instead of the nail and nymph. The difference is I’ll try to attach just enough split shot to get the fly down to the bottom where I can feel good contact. I will never cast upstream with this rig, as it easily gets hung up, but instead I will cast across, or slightly downstream. Most cast are short. This rig is a more precise delivery of the same fly, and because I keep all the slack out of the line, I detect bites quite readily.

Grayling will readily take bead head flies.

Grayling will readily take bead head flies.

As with every fly rig, when I get a bite is lift the rod. That amount of pressure is perfect for setting the smaller sharp hooks of flies. Once the hook is set, I deliberately take my time when reeling the fish in. In my youth I lost a great many fish by trying to horse them in. Put simply, the extra pressure exerted when trying to pull a fresh and lively fish in was often enough to pull the hook right out of that fish’s mouth. I now take my time, let the fish play itself out some, and they come in much more willingly, and few shake the hook. Patience pays off.

The McLeod is a beautiful place to wet a line.

The McLeod is a beautiful place to wet a line.

There’s a lot more to say about the McLeod, and the fish that call it home, but I’ll leave it here for the time. It’s a great fishery, and outside of the super easy access points, it is hardly fished. It will surprise you with how scenic it is, and how good the fishing can be when you decide to cast a line.



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) My McLeod
(2) Temperature and Trout
(3) On the Road Again
(4) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(5) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(6) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(7) Rollin’ on the River
(8) Windy Day Pike
(9) Cures for Cabin Fever
(10) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(11) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(12) A day on our foothill streams
(13) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(14) Fly Leaders
(15) In the Zone
(16) Learners Permit
(17) Flies of Summer
(18) Selecting the Right Boat
(19) The Italian Job
(20) Making a difference
(21) Pass the Salt
(22) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(23) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(24) Fall brings the big walleye out
(25) Hoppertunity Time
(26) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(27) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(28) Early Season Fly Fishing
(29) Walleye Logic
(30) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(31) Grammy’s Fish
(32) Top 10 Trout Lures
(33) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(34) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(35) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(36) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(37) There’s No Place Like Home
(38) A Golden Opportunity
(39) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(40) Un-matching the Hatch
(41) Alberta Super Bugs
(42) Glass is Back
(43) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(44) Speed Kills
(45) Entering the Twilight Zone
(46) Old Man River
(47) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(48) Small stream BT fishing
(49) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(50) In The Walleye Zone
(51) Zoo Trout
(52) Fly Selection for Beginners
(53) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(54) New Waters
(55) Big Bad Burbot
(56) Looking Back
(57) Out of Africa
(58) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(59) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(60) The Browns of Autumn
(61) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(62) Walleye Town
(63) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(64) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(65) Going With The Flow
(66) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(67) Swinging The Fences
(68) A View From The Aerie
(69) Dixieland Delight
(70) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(71) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(72) Montana's Cool Missouri
(73) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(74) Toothy Critters
(75) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(76) Top Ten Flies
(77) Northern Exposure
(78) Home Water Lessons
(79) Chicken Of The Sea
(80) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(81) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(82) Keep It Up!
(83) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(84) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(85) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(86) Hawg Holes
(87) Saltwater Salmon
(88) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(89) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(90) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(91) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(92) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(93) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(94) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(95) Fall Walleye
(96) Wet Flies
(97) Versatility the Key to Success
(98) Grayling of the Boreal
(99) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(100) Size Matters
(101) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(102) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(103) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(104) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(105) The Point Of It All
(106) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(107) Fall Fly Fishing
(108) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(109) Big River, Big Fish
(110) Bottom Bonanza
(111) Fishing Small Flies
(112) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(113) Four Seasons of the Bow
(114) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(115) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(116) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(117) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(118) Edge Walleye
(119) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(120) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(121) Four Corners – Four Waters
(122) Chasing Pothole Trout
(123) Springtime Stoneflies
(124) The Torrents of Spring
(125) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(126) Bust Them With Bait
(127) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(128) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(129) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(130) Terrestrials
(131) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(132) Rocky Mountain High
(133) Reading the clues
(134) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(135) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(136) Fly Fishing 101
(137) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(138) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(139) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(140) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(141) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(142) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(143) Trust Your Electronics
(144) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(145) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(146) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(147) Walleye can be Humbling
(148) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(149) Winter Flyfishing
(150) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(151) Hot Fall Pike Action
(152) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(153) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(154) Frequently Asked Questions
(155) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(156) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(157) Deep Water Perch
(158) Post Spawn Brookies
(159) A Fisher's Life
(160) The River's Last Stand
(161) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(162) Coho on the Coast
(163) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(164) Summer in the Mountains
(165) Peak Walleye Season
(166) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(167) Last Ice Rainbows
(168) The Burbot Event
(169) Tackle Matching
(170) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(171) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(172) The Lure of Brook Trout
(173) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(174) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(175) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(176) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(177) The Vesatile Plug
(178) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(179) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(180) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(181) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(182) Daily Fish Migrations
(183) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(184) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(185) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(186) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(187) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(188) The Fun in Ultra Light
(189) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(190) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(191) Never Stop Learning
(192) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(193) Jigging through the Ice
(194) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(195) Rainbows on Ice
(196) The Season of Ice Begins
(197) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(198) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(199) Facts On Cats
(200) West Coast Adventure
(201) June Walleye Frenzy
(202) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(203) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(204) Northern Exposure
(205) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(206) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(207) Man Overboard
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