Friday, 26 July 2013

The Seven Year Itch

               Last Thursday I headed into Saskatchewan on a trip that would hopefully involve a few different lakes and more than a couple different fish species on the fly. The trip had been planned for a while (back to last November actually) which was very unlike me and was almost a step in the right direction as far as planning goes save for the fact that it landed smack dab on my seven year wedding anniversary (which is exactly like me). My wife raised an eyebrow when I told her the date and for a split second I felt like an idiot but then I thought of the potential of catching some real big trout and the feeling quickly passed. It is kind of scary how well I can take an ass chewing both at work and at home, something I neither brag about nor’ deny; a learned ability that has aided me in minimising stress.

               So with the truck packed I met up with Steve Donnelly and we headed east into Gods country. The one thing I enjoy more than anything about fly fishing in a province which is deemed devoid of trout is the fact that no one fishes the lakes frequently enough for there to be any real information on them. You always seem to head a little into the unknown and every first fish seems like a small victory on virgin waters. Needless to say secrets and information is tight and if you expect to have consistent success you had better quickly befriend a few capable diehard trout fisherman. Luckily I have such a circle and the reports I was getting from the two lakes I had planned to fish were completely contradicting one another. One guy told me to avoid Lake A and spend my entire time on Lake B whereas the other guy told me the opposite. Fortunately Mother Nature helped decide as the wind was howling for most of the weekend anyway. We would spend our time on the smaller of the two which had more places to hide from the wind.

               We arrived at the lake sometime shortly after eight AM. We rigged up and headed out in my small twelve foot aluminum. Eyeballing the sonar we slowly cruised along the drop looking for fish. The lake had excellent shoal areas which were abruptly interrupted by steep drop offs into 27-35 feet of water. At this time of year the name of the game is finding the thermocline. With water temperatures elevated (low to mid 70’s) the trout are seeking refuge of the cooler, better oxygenated water. What I was hoping to find was where the thermocline met up with the bottom. My hopes were we would mark fish in these locations (which we did). After only about 5 minutes we found fish holing 21 feet down right where the lake came up from 32 to 27 feet of water and continued right up to 15 feet. We backed out into the deeper water and anchored up. I had noticed a tonne of sticklebacks in the shallows so I tied on a small balanced leech/stickleback/damselfly/ immature dragonfly pattern that has been a deadly for me. A foot above it I rigged up a small chironomid. We set our indicators at 21 feet and cast towards the drop.

The first Tiger of the trip.

               It didn’t take long for my indicator to go down. I set the hook and after a short fight I was surprised to land a chunky 14” Tiger trout (brook trout X brown trout). The lake, as far as I had known, had no tigers stocked. This definitely got us excited as Steve had never landed a Tiger trout which only meant that he could knock them off his list of fish to catch along with the brook trout that were in the lake (there were also rainbows as well). By the way, if you have never hooked a Tiger trout they are bulldogs. They pretty much are nose down swimming away from you the whole time. With the water temperatures as they were I opted to let the fish go as quickly as possible (no throat sample). I should point out when water temperatures are up try to land fish as quickly as you can and try to minimize handling.
One of many small brook trout landed over the weekend.
               I reset and was into another fish almost immediately. This time it was a small brook trout. Release, reset, repeat. Noticing the trend Steve increased his leader length and reset at the right depth. He quickly hooked a fish which he initially thought was small, right up to the point it launched itself two feet out of the water. After a 5 minute fight Steve cradled a gorgeous 4 lb rainbow in the net.

Steve's 1st rainbow of the trip.


 The action continued much the same for the next hour or so with a trout every 5-10 minutes. We never hooked into anything overly big until my indicator literally shot under the water. At first I thought I was into a big rainbow but the slow determined runs finally revealed my quarry as a large Tiger trout could be seen floundering 75 yards away. The fish pulled the whole time I gained line on it and when we finally slid the net under it I was quite impressed. To date it was my biggest Tiger, my best guess in the 3.5 – 4 lb range. We took a quick picture and sent it on its way.

My biggest Tiger trout to date!

               We landed a few more smaller brookies and then decided to call it a day close to 1:30 seeing as Steve and I still had to head to camp and meet up with a couple of buddies who were arriving that afternoon.

               The next morning we were welcomed at the boat launch by white caps. We tried to find shelter from the wind but after a few fruitless hours (Steve landed one small brookie) we headed back to camp for some serious power napping. This was very new to me as I am usually a sun up until sun down kind of guy, but when it is windy and a dirty cold front is moving through in July, even I know when to make an exception.

A good way to start off the last day!
              Our last morning the wind had subsided somewhat and we decided to fish the smaller of the two lakes on account of the great fishing we had the morning of day one. We moved to the spot we had been having success the first morning and set up. In short order Steve landed a healthy 16” Tiger working a streamer on a sinking line. I once again set up with the indicator and small balanced leech pattern. After 15 minutes and no luck we pulled anchor and moved out another 20 feet. I checked my depth and reset and soon my indicator went down. Another good looking rainbow shot out of the water and made a few quick runs before I slid it into the net. A quick picture and it was gone. I reset and five minutes later had another good fish on. The fish bore deep so I never new what I had on right up until it was alongside the boat. When I slid the net under it I was pretty impressed with the rainbow on the bottom of the boat. Another quick photo and release. 

A great Sask Rainbow!

             We landed some more smaller brook trout throughout the day (Steve did most of that) and after a quick meal back at camp we finished the day in a small bay where Steve landed one more nice rainbow and I managed to land another brookie. All and all, for the kind of conditions we had and the variety of trout we were getting into, I was more than content as I headed home Sunday.

A nice way to end the trip.


  1. Where about in Sask were you fishing?

  2. Awesome!
    Hey Jeff sorry to post this here but I couldn't find a contact link. The flyguys feed link has changed to Thank you ... Rob ( :)

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