Cutthroat At The Top Of The World

It was 6 a.m. and I was loading our float tubes, fishing gear and all our camping supplies into the cargo baskets mounted on the side of the helicopter for a two-day stay high in the Rocky Mountains. Icefield Heli Tours would be flying us into Lake of the Falls for a fly-fishing bonanza. Lake of the Falls is a glacier lake tucked deep in the bowl of three surrounding mountains, 2,250 metres in elevation. The jade-clear glacier lake is home to an abundance of cutthroat trout and we anticipated two full days of non-stop fly fishing for aggressive cutthroat.

Our helicopter lifted off and in no time pine trees passed beneath us as the pilot skilfully weaved his way through the mountain passes, touching down 20 minutes later at our destination. After the helicopter landed, we unloaded our gear and watched the chopper disappear overtop of the mountain peaks. The valley fell silent. There was nothing surrounding us but the Alberta wilds. We set up our tents, cut some firewood and put everything in its place. With camp set up and the chores completed, it was time to fish.

Kyle made the first cast with his fly rod and landed a scrappy cutthroat. I wasn’t as lucky. I had to wait for my third cast before I had a hook up. One cutthroat after another eagerly took our imitation mosquito flies until the sun warmed the mountain air and began to cast a bright glare off the surface of the water. The sun’s bright rays penetrating the water caused the cutthroat to plunge deeper within the depths of the crystal-clear lake.

It was time to pull out the spinning gear and go after them. I tied on a white Panther Marten and gave it a cast. As the lure freefell through the water I guessed the depth to be 40 feet, and when I felt the lure hit bottom, I retrieved it just fast enough to keep the small blade turning. Within 10 feet of my retrieve, there was a tug on the end of my line and I set the hook. The never-give-up attitude of the trout species was evident as the cutthroat fought to free himself right to the edge of my float tube. We caught and released cutthroat after cutthroat using both the fly rod and spinning rod. The cutthroat rarely pressed the scale past two pounds, but they took our offerings all day. It was an experience and a trip I can’t wait to do again.

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