Just What The Doctor Prescribed
After working diligently to get all my work done this week, I packed my fishing tackle and my rod into the back of my car and headed off to finish the work week. Friday morning was looking really great to leave work early and sneak away to fish the Bow River. Just as a doctor would prescribe ointment for a rash, fishing scratches and heals all my itches. I left work early at ten thirty and drove thirty minutes to meet up with some trout.
I parked the car and got out. Burr, it was a little chilly so I got on my snow pants. I added an extra sweater for good measure as well, after all I am not leaving the river until I catch at least one fish. I tied up a Rapala Countdown and made sure the knot was going to hold if I caught a monster Trout. The knot broke the first time I tied it up, so I made extra sure the knot was solid the second time I tied it up. I am a little rusty but the clinch knot was perfect this time. I then put my back pack over my shoulders and make the short walk to the river bank. I fished my way upriver with no bites for the first five or ten minutes. I was looking for a deeper section of river as the countdown can run fairly deep. If you use a lure that runs deeper than the river, all you will catch is rocks, branches, and weeds.
I gingerly walked out onto the ice that has gathered on the bank and made my cast. I was able to almost cast all the way across the river, the ice was quite far out into the river in some spots. The lure was running true and clean when, tap, tap I feel the bite of a trout. I seen the fish swim back into the rock he was hiding behind. Even though I thought there were fish stacked in this area, I kept moving upriver to see what else was alive down there. Just a short distance upriver I finally hooked into a twenty inch Brown Trouton a Brown Trout Rapala. This guy was hungry and engulfed my offering. Then there came another slow period. I decided that instead of leaving the original hook on, I would change it to another Rapala of a different color. I feel some fishermen make the mistake of leaving their hook on too long when they are not catching fish. Today all it took was to change the color pattern and then I started slamming trout. I was using the same hook, it was the same size but I just changed the color.
After I switched hooks I made a long cast into a seam in the middle of the river. I could see there were some large rocks and I wanted to see what was hiding behind them. My cast was made just a metre in front of the spot I wanted to work my lure through. I was careful not to spook the fish from the splash of my lure. I clicked the bail over and reeled the lure making it swim erratically and fast, then BOOM a trout was hooked on and fighting hard. I reeled him in and to my surprise it was a chunky rainbow. I love rainbows! The very next cast was put almost to the exact same place the first cast went into, this time the lure dove down and I let it sit still, BANG another trout was hooked up. Back to back trout’s. This time it was a big brown that was rolling to get the hook out of his mouth. I managed to slowly reel him in to land him and what a beautiful looking fish. I released him back into the frigid water and wiped my hands off. It was getting windy by now and it was time to walk back downriver towards my vehicle. I was fishing all the way back downstream as the wind was howling behind my back.
As the wind was blowing strong my lure was going even farther out into the River than when I first started my day. I hooked the bottom; probably a tree or a large rock in the river and my hook broke off. “Oh well” I said and reached into the back pack for another. A different colour Rapala was selected. It’s a new color out this year. As I came to a deep small pocket of water, I flicked the lure into the drop point of the hole and slowly reeled the Rapala towards the deepest part of the hole. After the third try, what I left early from work for was pulling my lure hard. A twenty five inch Brown trout was getting the best of me. I loosened the drag on my reel as I could see this was no small fry. He then peeled out several yards of line before coming to a stop; quickly I picked up the lost line and brought him close to shore where I tailed him out and removed the Rapala from his tooth jaws. “Now that’s what I’m talking about” I said out loud. I saved the best for last today that’s for sure. Hopefully next week the weather is nice and I can get away again. What are you doing this week? Perhaps some trout fishing!
Crank Bait’s Are King
We all have seen those big fat juicy looking lures dangling from the tackle store shelves just begging us to buy them. Heck they look so life like these days I even think about eating one or two of them so why not a fish. I turn on the fishing channel on Saturday mornings and see these same lures being used time and time again, “today we will be using crank baits to catch our fish” says the host of the TV show. So why choose the crank bait to catch your prey. Well its simple really, these lures like the Rapala are tank tested to achieve the perfect wiggle, wobble, pitch and roll which makes the lure look like a reel bait fish.
The color schemes on the Rapala are matched to duplicate whatever baitfish is in your local area. I fish my local river for rainbows and brown trout so I choose the corresponding colors to catch my quarry, rainbow trout colors and the brown trout color. I see the pro’s using them while they fish and have great success with them; some even sign their name on the favourite lure like the Berkley Frenzy Jay Yelas hard baits. Relying on Berkley Frenzy crank baits, professional bass angler Jay Yelas led wire to wire at the 2002 CITGO Bass masters Classic to capture his first world championship.
Yelas, who finished with 45 pounds and 13 ounces, entered the final day of the three-day competition with a comfortable lead of over nine pounds, out fishing the field that included fifty-two of the world’s best bass anglers. It was only the third time in the 32-year history of the Classic that the winner led from start to finish. So this is why I choose to fish the crank bait often, they are proven to work for the pro’s and for me also.
Crank baits can be used in all depths of water as they make them to dive from two feet all the way down to thirty or more feet deep. Depth is important in choosing the right crank bait for your fishing situation. When exposed to different food sources, trout spend more of their time at different depths, making the most of the variety of food that is available to them. When fishing at depth, use large crank baits for better visibility, and when fishing shallow where light penetrates easily, go smaller. Fish tend to find their food on the surface, on the lake or river bed or in the margins. The middle depths tend to be an unproductive “dead zone” as there is little food and no cover there. It is wise to begin fishing deep, on or near the bottom or on the surface when fishing open water. If you don’t find quick success, work your way up or down with your crank bait until you find success and hook up.
Crank baits can be used from a boat or while standing on a shoreline. They can be used in rivers and lakes alike, so they are very versatile and work well in most all fishing situations. My favourite crank baits include the Rapala, Berkley Frenzy, Storm, and many more. Crank baits deserve a place in your tackle box and on the end of your line.
Memories of Days Gone ByI was in the south end of the city today for a visit to my parent’s house, turkey dinner and all the fixings always entices me. I returned to one of my favourite spots on the Bow River to try my luck and work up an appetite. This particular hole has rewarded me with many monster trout in the past. I remember walking in and tying up a Buzz Bomb or a Panther Martin and hammering trout after trout after trout. It was that good! If the lures were not working I would grab the flies from the tackle box and tie them to a six inch piece of fishing line. I would tie up two flies, usually a bow river bugger and a royal coachman onto my spinning gear. I would use a bell weigh attached to the bottom of the set up and fire that out into the river, bouncing the rig along the bottom and picking it off carefully as to not snag up. That would catch me fish for sure, sometimes very big fish.
I returned today with high hopes and a back pack full of gear. I sat on the bank and watched the water flow by as I tied a hook onto the end of my dull green fishing line. The river had me thinking of all the fish I hooked and landed from that hole. Big browns, fat rainbows, and even some huge rocky mountain whitefish were landed with ease and grace at this location. The area was perfect for trout, a nice gravely bottom with good cover and deep to boot. You knew fish were there and I knew how to catch them. I finally tied up and cast far outwards where the hole began to sink, should be fish in there I thought. Many casts’ later and no fish. Time to switch hooks to spinner bait. The rooster tail went on and outward but still nothing. I sat back and watched the river wondering where the fish were. I never even saw one trout’s snout, or even a dorsal fin for that matter.
I keep it going after the short break and still no luck. I was puzzled and a bit confused at the lack of action. After all this was my hole, I knew it like the back of my hand. After walking up and down the river several times I decided it was time to go get that turkey dinner in me. Back in “the good ol’ days” I would have walked out of my hole with at least four or five fish hooked and landed but not today. The river has changed in this hole, the once prime spawning grounds of the brown trout has vanished into thin air. Actually it was blown out by the nasty flood of 2005. Gone are those days of massive browns from this hole. It’s sad really but that is how nature works. There is little cover left and quite shallow.
The memories will still be with me as long as I live. I will move on and find another fishing hole to call my own. I know other fishermen and women can relate to this article. If you have a favourite fishing hole you would like to share with us than feel free to write a comment and share your story here. I know I would personally like to hear it! Until we meet again on the river, may all your fish be LARGE.
Homing In On March Trout
Today was a day a trout fisherman could not pass up the opportunity to get the hooks out and the line wet. Soon the weather will turn cold again and we will be watching fishing shows on television. So off to the Bow River we go and catch some of our own trout. There was three days of warm weather here in Calgary so there was a copious amount of water draining off the streets and into the Bow River system. This made the water dirty, and yesterday it was too dirty to fish. But I remained positive and returned to the river today for some trout fishing action. Dean played hooky from work and Tom was on his way as he had the day off. Tom said “I have that fishing itch I just have to scratch”. You know the itch he means, the one where you are cooped up for weeks and no fishing has been done for months.
Spirits were high and the hooks were sharp. Up the icy bank and into the deep hole I walked gingerly, ice cracking half way up the river. I was the first to arrive, and therefore I was able to latch into four nice rainbows before Dean and Tom arrived to meet me. As they say “the early bird gets the worm”, well actually he gets the trout. Dean was walking up the bank and I could see him in the distance as I battled my fifth rainbow within an hour. It looked like it was going to be a day for many rainbows. Then Tom showed up and then the river became quiet, like Mother Nature turned off the switch. A brief period passed with no trout hooked but then as the day started, the river came alive once again.
Tom was into a respectable brown trout that measured out at twenty three inches. The camera shutter snapped a few pictures and then Tom released the fish back into the chilly stained water. As tom released the fish into the Bow River, I held onto his coat just to make sure he did not slip and enter the river. Ice hanging over the rivers edge can be dangerous so when you are walking on it you must check it first for stability, getting wet when the water is this cold will end your day immediately. No one got their boots wet only their hands from releasing the fish we caught back into the river. Catch and release is a great idea to preserve the fishing resource we have here in Alberta.
Today we were predominantly using crank baits such as the Rapala Countdown, the Rapala Husky Jerk and the spinners were working also. I was using the Bang Tail made by Lure Jensen and hooked into two rainbows with it. Dean approached me and asked me what color he should switch his lure to. I suggested he try the green Rapala as I have seen many big fish caught with it. It was approaching three o’clock and this has always been a great time here on the Bow River to catch fish. As the clock struck three, a huge Brown struck dean’s Rapala, the same green hook he just finished tying up. I could see the splashes from just down river where I was casting. I just knew this fish was extra ordinary so I clumsily trotted up the river to capture some video of his monster. This male brute was battling dean to the bitter end with many head shakes and rolls to try and shake his lure free. No way was Dean about to loose this fish. He reeled him slowly into the bank and chose a spot where he could get close enough to grip him. All twenty seven inches came out of the water; this is what we were looking for all day!
As dean’s eyes opened with amazement, I popped the hook from his tooth jaws careful not to harm this beautiful wonder. There was no problems unhooking him and we were able to capture the moment on film for you to see. When landing a fish this big, we are careful not to let the fish lay on the ice at all. It is better to keep the fish off the ice and get it back into the water as soon as possible. This reduces stress on the fish and improves the chances of fish survival. High fives were in order for this trout. I applauded dean for his skills and his presentation of the Rapala as it was necessary to do so. I hope you enjoy the picture of this Bow River fat boy. I know I enjoyed watching dean hook and land this exceptional trout.
Fishing Rapala’s For Big Rainbows
My family and I decided to fish this Sunday that just passed. We floated the Bow River in search of Browns and Rainbows that occupy this river. It has taken me until today to write this post so sorry for the delay. I brought the movie camera along and my girlfriend was kind enough to be my camera woman for the day. I am planning a video series on fishing rivers with various types of fishing tackle being featured. A few weeks back was the practice run for this series of videos.
I am hoping to get the first two videos of the series filmed before the snow flies here in Alberta. As we locals know the time is ticking. The video above is me chucking a Brown Trout Rapala into the banks of the Bow River. The fish were going nuts for this proven lure from Rapala. The lure is a countdown CD-9 and has a very tight wobble which looks very life like to sport fish!
Please watch the video and share it with your friends!!!! Leave some feedback on the Blog as to what you would like to see featured, lures, spinners etc.
Click “Watch In High Quality” while on YouTube for a better viewing experience.
I made my way down to the Bow River earlier in the week to try my luck at some trout fishing. I arrived and viewed the splendid colors of fall here in Alberta. The leaves are turning a golden yellow mixed in with warm reds. The leaves are slowly dropping from the trees as the north wind is pushing them off their branches. I still cannot believe summer has come and gone once again. What a summer I had fishing the Bow River! I would like to thank my fantastic clients I was able to guide this spring and into the summer months. I sure hope you had as much fun as I did!
When I decide to fish the banks of the Bow River I usually pick a slow deep spot in the river, so I drove down to a hole which usually holds big browns at this time of the year. I walked out into the clearing and stood beside the river in total shock. I saw back hoes, earth movers and likes damming up one side of the river. “So much for catching any fish in that place today” I mumbled to myself. I was in the same location in the summer and ran into two guys surveying the river. I asked them what they were doing and they informed me they were planning to put some sewage piping from one side of the river to the other under ground. I spitted out some words I cannot repeat here and left the river thinking “there goes another good spot to fish the Bow”.
There was a time not so long ago that a fisherman could leave Calgary and take a short drive into seclusion. Not anymore! As this city grows and grows it infringes on the once private sections of the river. Pretty soon I will need to drive an hour to escape the commotion of the concrete jungle. Those secret spots on the river are no longer secrets, but I still remain grateful we have the river here. It sure has been good to me over the years!
I left the river with my head hung a little lower than usual. Destruction of the river never gets me into a good mood. I never hooked into any trout that day, wonder if all the construction had anything to do with that? I stopped to daydream of the past and shoot a few pictures of the fall colors. A playful duck was hammering away at the larva which was all along the shore line. The wind picked up and sent chills down my back, a little reminder from Mother Nature that winter is just around the corner.
As we enter the fall season in Alberta, Brown Trout fishing on the Bow River will pick up. Those elusive Brown Trout will show up on the end of our monofilament fishing line. Brown Trout will start to fatten up for their spawn making for good fishing for this species. So how are we to hook into these lovely specimens? The answer I believe lies in their diet!
Young Brown Trout feed on insects and other invertebrates, but the larger fish are active predators of other bait fish including young Brown Trout, suckers, White Fish and Rainbow Trout. Larger Brown Trout will also feed on small animals that fall in the water from shore. This is a hint as to where to cast your lure when fishing from a boat! Brown Trout usually do not become active or feed until the late afternoon or early evening but when the weather is cool enough they will feed during the day as well. The largest Brown’s of the river feed under the cover of darkness, so stay out on the river bank a little longer than most fisherman dare too. Brown trout can be caught with artificial flies, spoons, jigs, plastic worm imitations and lures.
When I target Brown Trout I use lures with natural looking colors to imitate their natural diet. I select lures that look like Rainbow Trout, Rocky Mountain Whitefish and Brown Trout during daylight hours. It is very important to key in on these colors to have good success fishing browns when there is cloud cover. Browns have better “dim light” eyesight than most other trout. However I find success with brighter colors during the cover of darkness. Use the most natural of bright colors and you are sure to land a trophy brown in the dark.
On the Bow River I have found you need to stay fishing well past dusk, an hour past the last light is usually when I start to hook up trout. There is a slow period between twilight and total darkness on the Bow River. I use this time to conserve energy and prepare for what is about to transpire. I make a habit of checking my hooks for any damage, bent hooks or dull hooks will be dealt with at this time before complete blackness arrives. If I need to change a hook out I will do this before there is no light left. I like my hooks strong and very sharp, Eagle Claw hooks is what I prefer over any other hook manufacturer. There are a few other companies I like also but Eagle Claw is my selection when I trout fish the Bow River.
Plan your time to fish browns accordingly and make sure you use lures that are close to what the browns are feeding on. Find deep holes in the river and present your lure at the top, middle and tail ends of these holes. Try different speeds of retrieve and you will catch these wonderful hard fighting species of trout!
Before I head out to fish a river at night I will go out and do some scouting during the daylight hours. I look for hazards that could endanger me and I also look for prime fishing water while there. I look for classic trout holding water such as pools, slow deep runs and under cut banks where fish could be holding. When fish are hiding here during the day it can be quite difficult to cast to them, or they are not going to feed during the day. As nightfall happens, these fish move out of their cover and come alive into more approachable fishing water where you can cast to them.
For these reasons your prime water at night might now include slow outside bends, tail end of a pool, inside shallow bends, and those calm open flats can all start to produce fish once the cover of darkness arrives, especially if this water boarders deeper “classic” holding areas.
The lures I prefer to use at night include plugs like Rapala’s, Berkley Frenzy’s, Matzuo jointed minnows. What I will do when fishing at night is have two fishing rods rigged up and ready to go. I do not like fumbling around at night trying to tie on hooks. So I avoid this hassle and get prepared before hand in the daylight hours.
When approaching the location of water you plan to fish, do so quietly and softly as to not scare off any fish that are holding near the edge of the bank. Also keep your flashlight or head mounted light away from your targeted water. Remember, the less you disturb your location the more chance you will have at landing a trophy Brown.
Please remember fishing in the dark is sometimes awkward and can be challenging. This type of fishing is purely based on feel. But once you have done it a few times you will become productive and could be rewarded with the trophy Brown Trout of your dreams.
The Seasons and Spinners
From season to season minor adjustments need to be made. But with the changing of the seasons, summer and fall can be great times to fish the spinner. Fall provides the right water temperature and the angling pressure can be low which helps your odds on high pressured rivers and streams.
When fishing in the summer the most important factor to consider is the water temperature. This may require you to start fishing earlier in the day or later on in the evening depending upon where you live. Places where it is cool enough to support trout over the summer may not be cool enough to keep them feeding on a consistent basis. A good idea is to measure the temperature of the water you intend to fish. Test the water to see if it is within the trout’s feeding range. If the water is too warm, your odds will greatly decrease. You might catch the odd fish but why waste the time and effort? If the temperature is too warm move on to another river or stream which has cooler temperatures more suited to your preferred species. Once you reach your intended river with cooler temperatures you will find few changes in the trout’s habits.
Here are the ideal water temperatures for various species of fish:
Rainbow & Steelhead like 56 degrees, Brookies and Browns prefer 59 degrees. Salmon, such as Coho’s and Chinooks like 54 degrees. Pickerel like to feed in 63 degree waters. Bass feed in much warmer water, Small Mouths like 66 degrees and Large Mouths like it at 71 degrees.
As you know, early morning and late evening provide the best times to fish spinners in the summer because the water temperatures are usually within the trout’s feeding range. Sometimes water levels can be low in the early summer which causes trout to be wary or spooky. Trout often will sit near the banks in a river and will hide more than usual under fallen trees, rocks and under cut banks. Since the water level is low, casting a spinner near their hiding spot will scare them and they will not feed. Casting far beyond their hiding spot and bringing the lure across this place will improve your odds of hooking up. Try a heavier spinner with lighter line at this time of year as you can cast further with that combination.
Trout can also see and hear better at this time so fish well away from where you think the fish are hiding out. I fish well upstream of where I think there will be fish as trout cannot see as well behind them. If you have to approach them from the sides or from above, keep a low profile. Stop well short of where you would normally stand and make a longer cast. If you don’t, you will scare a lot of your potential trout. Remember in the summer that trout will not slowly eat their prey; they tend to take as little time as possible to catch their food. Expect them to dart out quickly from their hiding place and then turn and swim back to their hiding spot immediately after hitting your spinner.
This may be the most exciting time for me to fish trout because of the sheer power and quickness the trout poses. Retrieve speeds vary so test which speed is working best for you on that particular day. Try letting the spinner bounce on the bottom a few times before retrieving it in. Keep trying different tricks and find the best one for you on that day’s outing. Make sure that the stretch of river has not been fished, if you see a fisherman fishing ahead of you find another location as chances are he has scared all the fish from that stretch of the river. Find an un-fished stretch of river and your success will greatly improve.
Using the Spinners
I have written several articles on finding fish and articles on different types of lures. I would now like to share some information regarding the use of the spinner. My intention here is to make your experience on the water more productive. Not only will you improve your odds you will have more fun as well.
Every fisherman has the privilege of seeing different colors and sizes of spinners when he enters the sporting goods store and looks at the shelves. We would all agree the selection is impressive but how do you select a lure which will best suit the river or lake you intend to fish. I used to believe in the old superstition that was based on hearsay, what appealed to my eye or the last fisherman I talked to at the river. What I think happens to most anglers and has happened to me is we select lures “A” “B” and “C” from the shelf. We then go out and fish these lures we selected. We then successfully make a satisfying catch with these lures and then conclude that we have found the “perfect lure”. The fisherman then fishes his “chosen” lures catching a fish every so often. Once in awhile an outstanding catch is made and the fisherman believes he now has an exceptional lure once the fish are “on the bite”.
I now look at things a lot different now I know more. I believe the angler makes a catch when his “chosen” lure coincides with the conditions that are best suited to his “chosen” lure and the style he is fishing it. The result is a predictable one, sometimes he catches a decent fish and sometimes he gets skunked and every so often he catches a monster. This is a classic example of anglers who fish for Trout. I believe the reason that fishing spinners has never been taken seriously is that many fisherman do not take the scientific approach to fishing them, what I mean is matching the lure to the prevailing conditions just like the fly fisherman who carries with him a dozen different fly’s to match the hatch. I believe that anglers when fishing hardware have to consider size, degree of flash, color combination in relation to the water color, temperature, and light conditions. These considerations will produce good consistent catches of high quality fish.
The main objective here is to put spinner fishing within a specific framework where the choice of a particular lure is based upon tangible environmental factors. This will help you dictate what color, size and weight of spinner should be used. An example, a fly fisherman in May will not tie a big fly on the line as this is when the May Fly hatch is coming off. He will tie a small fly that looks as close as possible to the May Fly, he will use the same colors and will keep the fly at the top of the water surface to imitate the hatch. Same thing with spinners, use a smaller spinner that is light and has the same colors in it and you will find success. This is the framework I speak of here. There is absolutely no reason why trout cannot be negotiated with spinners regularly in all conditions. A great deal of practice combined with some patience and an accurate thermometer will be your greatest asset. A note book to write down your experiences will also add to your future fun fishing the spinner.