Stillwater Summer

webb-stillwaterStillwater fly fishing opportunities abound across Western Canada.

It’s early June, and my strike indicator sits vibrantly atop glass-calm Onion Lake. I had been staring at this fluorescent buoy — attached where my five-weight fly line meets my 12-foot leader — for 15 minutes and I think I’ve only blinked twice.

Suddenly, the indicator disappears and my line pulls tight. Fish on! A few moments later I’m releasing a feisty wild rainbow trout to tug on the line of some other lucky angler, and, ideally, spawn to keep this naturalized population abundant for generations to come.

When people think of stillwater fly fishing for trout, they often conjure up images of pothole lakes speckled throughout British Columbia’s Thompson-Okanagan region — but fantastic stillwater fly fishing exists right across Western Canada. And bobbing around on a scenic lake, perfecting roll-casts and fighting acrobatic trout from sun-up to sun-down is just about the finest way to spend a summer’s day. I’ve had the pleasure of stillwater fly fishing with some of the finest trout anglers to ever watch a bobber — and they’ve tried (sometimes in vain) to impart knowledge of entomology, casting technique and even fly tying on me. I won’t try to regurgitate their knowledge — you can often find it in the pages of Sportsman (such as the May/June issue’s Find Them With Forage feature). What I will do is point you in the direction of some fine trout fishing so you can pack up the float tube and the five-weight setup, grab some chironomids, leeches, nymphs, scuds and shrimp patterns and go fishin’ this weekend.

Let’s start in what could be considered the ultimate stillwater fly fishing Mecca. (I bet you think I’m going to say BC, don’t you…)

Manitoba has, simply put, some of the finest trout fishing in Canada. Whether it’s ‘bows or browns or more exotic species like splake, tigers and spar, you can get all the fishing action you need in this province. In fact, at least one prominent fly fishing expert, regarded for his BC prowess, has confided in me that he (or she, no hints!) feels Manitoba has the best trout fishing in the country.

Twin Lake, near Roblin, Manitoba, offers fantastic fishing for gorgeous tiger trout. Tigers are one of the most unique-looking trout in Canada — and they fight hard. Chase them around the lake with a sinking line and a fly box full of leeches, dragonfly nymphs and baitfish patterns.

Saskatchewan is known for great fishing too — I’m certainly not going to rundown the merits of each of the 100,000 lakes found in the Land of Living skies. Nor am I going to recommend the ol’ standards either…

Try Narrow Hills Provincial Park, about 160 km northeast of Prince Albert. In classic lake country, you can kick around one of four great fishing lakes in pursuit of five different species of trout plus walleye, pike and perch. It doesn’t get much better than that.

In Alberta, my favourite stillwater lake is Muir Lake, just about an hour’s drive straight east of Edmonton. There is no shortage of great potholes in the northern half of Wild Rose Country, but Muir stands out. With strict management and fat rainbows, this small lake can be successfully fished from a float tube all season long. It can get slow on hot days, but then you can just work on your tan and maybe do a bit of birdwatching. Beats workin’…

Now we’re at BC — possibly the most famous stillwater trout fishing destination in the country. The lakes in and around Merritt and Kamloops are the stuff of legend and too numerous to mention. While Roche Lake, just west of Kamloops on Highway 5A, is no huge secret, I feel it’s the best introduction to stillwater trout fishing in that province. It’s easily accessed, has a campsite and cabins at the waterfront and is a reliable producer of trout all season long.

Now what are you waiting for? Get out there!

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