Thursday, July 24, 2014


While the Castle River is one of the more popular in the region, it can, like most rivers, be tough to fish. On our third day we headed southwest from Castle Falls on Road 774 past the Castle Mountain ski resort. This is rugged country and four wheel drive is recommended if you are going to access stretches of the river off road. Not only that, but you have to be prepared to do some work to get to different sections of the river. There is fallen timber everywhere, which means you can only access short stretches of the river before you have to go overland. This section was good to me, as I landed my biggest cutthroat of the trip out of an undercut bank. I saw the fish come out to my Prince nymph and engulf it, one of the coolest sites in the world. I had a hard fought battle on my hands in the relatively heavy current but I did manage to land this beautiful specimen.
 Beautiful country

Friend Phil Brake was also able to wade over and get some shots before releasing this fish. On almost all sections of the rivers in this region, it’s catch and release fishing only, which has allowed the fishery to thrive. On the way out of the stream that evening we were crossing over a bridge by the ski resort when we saw a huge cutthroat rising to take mayflies off the surface. This was the first visible signs of a hatch and we went to take many more fish this trip on dry flies.

The Beaver Mines store is a good source of information

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A slow day on the water

On day two of our trip, we headed over a nearby mountain pass to fish the Carbondale River. Access to this steep sided smaller river was somewhat difficult. We ended up finding an old access bridge and walking down the bank near a busy campground.

Phil and I stared fishing a deep pool but I quickly decided to work on taking both still pictures and videos with my new Nikon AW1. 

This rugged camera is shock proof and waterproof to 49
Phil lands a small cutthroat in a back eddie
feet. In other words, a camera that might be able survive the rough beating that crunched my last DLR. It’s a mid-priced make but still takes very good photos and did survive some drops and submerging in ice cold water. All the photos on this trip were taken with it, so you be the judge. As the day wore on, very few fish were caught, a major disappointment to Phil and the rest of the crew who had high expectations for this river. After four hours with a couple small whitefish, we decided to pack it in and head back to the campground for supper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Stream Trout of Southwestern Alberta!


The Castle River just south of Castle Falls
Don's first cutthroat of the trip!
It was five thirty in the morning when the moving house that was to be our home for the next ten days pulled up to the driveway. Soon we were on the road for our ten day fly fishing adventure to southern Alberta. Four of us were planning to explore the rivers and streams that dot the landscape near the Crowsnest Pass region. Our first stop was the Castle Falls Campground located on the shores of the Castle River, a glacial feed stream that holds cutthroat trout, whitefish and a few rainbow thrown in for good measure. Friend Phil Brake had been fishing this part of Alberta since 2001, a semi-annual pilgrimage that went back to his childhood. Growing up in southern California, he learned to fly fish at an early age, hiking the mountains near his home in Fresno. When he invited me along I figured why not revisit this part of the world. During my days filming The Complete Angler television series, I had shot three different shows in this region. Two of them were with Vic Berman, the co-owner of the Crowsnest Pass fly fishing shop. Vic is also a top guide in the region and he agreed to be a guest on the show. Our first show was shot on the scenic Crowsnest River down east of the town of Bellevue. Then Vic loaded up his drift boat and headed south of the dam of the Oldman River near Lethbridge. Both trips proved productive and we put together two of my favourite shows in the Complete Anglers series.
While my stream fly fishing skills were a little rusty, friend Phil had me back in the saddle right away. One of the first things I learned how to do was to tie on a dropper rig, in this case an Emerger fly that floated with a nymph tied off the trailer hook. Our first fish was right in front of the campground as Phil and I headed downstream while Bruce and Len went upstream towards the falls.
 Phil fishing a river bend

Phil quickly caught a couple of small whitefish and a cutthroat while I was shut out. Switching over to a Prince nymph on the dropper rig, I caught my first cutthroat on a small side pool next to the fast water.  That was just the start of some great fishing the next nine days.

 A selection of flies that will come in handy
Tomorrow, the continuation of our adventures in southwestern Alberta.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Catfish Crazy!

It had been about year since I had caught my last channel catfish but when Travel Manitoba extended the invite to fish for a morning as part of their media event titled "Fish Tales" how could I refuse. I picked up publisher Kevin Stobbe at seven in the morning last week and we headed from Winnipeg to Selkirk Park were the guides had their boats ready to go.
We were teamed up with Brad Melnyk, who is know more for his smallmouth exploits.
He had caught plenty of catfish over the years and in no time flat he had us tucked in tight to shore to get out of the heavy current that was flowing in the mighty Red. Heavy rains have swelled the river, sending floating logs and trees down at a rapid clip.This hadn't discouraged the catfish though. Big fish were surfacing everywhere so it didn't take long for Kevin to get hooked up with the first fish of the day. Unfortunately he was given an outfit with the handle of the reel on the wrong side. Still, he managed to wrestle this 31 inch fish to the side of the boat.
Not five minutes later, after a equipment change, he was into a much bigger fish, a 34 incher that was Kevin's first master angler. A short time later it  was my turn. The action continued pretty much non stop until 11:30 when we went back to exchange our stories over a hot walleye shore lunch provide my Danny of Dannys Whole Hog Barbeque fame. In the end Kevin had landed four master angler fish, the largest a 26 pound brute.

It was a fun day and thanks to Travel Manitoba and Brad Melnyk on reminding me how great channel catfish really are!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fly In Fishing Tips


Have you decided this is the year you your buddies have always dreamed about, a fly in fishing trip? Now unless you are going the five star route, here are some things you should consider, especially if you are going to an outpost camp.
Check to see the size of the motors on the boat and if they have electronics on them. At an outpost camp, the chances are not good.
On a recent trip to Harrop Lake Outpost, I made sure to bring my Humminbird depthfinder with a battery and charger, the same one I use for ice fishing. I also brought along my transducer bracket, an adjustable one that allowed me to fit the transom of the boat I would be fishing from. As it turned out this was an invaluable tool in the finding the deep pockets in a shallow river that was holding the fish. If I hadn‘t been marking the fish on my depthfinder, we would not have spent the time trying to get them to bite, which they did in the end.
Also, when you are on a new body of water, it pays to cover water by trolling. Unfortunately it can be pretty tough running a motor and trying to hold on to you rod, never mind tiring. So before the trip, I bought a really good quality clamp on holder by Eagle Claw. This is the best portable rod holder I have seen.

It was funny but when I showed up at the float plane base, my clients on this trip did not have most of the rods in a case. On longer trips, this is a recipe for disaster since there is not guarantee they will get there in one piece. Luckily there was no damage to any of them. I have seven rod cases of different sizes, one that will hold a seven foot, one piece rod. I also have a reel case to protect this valuable equipment.
Bring along a good dry bag equipped with raingear, rubber boots, warm clothes, lighter and other stuff to keep you safe in case you get stranded for a bit or an unexpected storm blows up.
TACKLE PACKING:   I spend about four hours choosing which tackle I will bring along and fine tune it into one small stackable soft sided pack. This pack will hold five medium sized trays and on this particular trip I had jigs, some spoons and various pike tackle along with some crankbaits. In the top of the pack I had various power baits and other plastics, including some nice swim baits for pike.
FISH TOOLS:    Don‘t forget your tools; pliers, scissors, jaw spreaders etc. that will make your life a lot easier. I sometimes bring a net, but I didn‘t have to on this trip, Jacksons made sure to have two different type of nets, a rubber one for walleye and a nice big soft mesh for the pike or big fish in general.

For a great fly in trip check out Jacksons Outposts at

 Satellite telephone is a great option!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rainy day is the best!

It was cold and rainy as we headed through the Whiteshell on our way to Lake of the Woods on Monday of this week. Friend Phil Brake was making sure I had a pair of rain paints for him tucked away in the boat. Little did he know that he would still end up very wet and cold by the end of the day. After getting our rain gear on and launching the boat, I trolled out slowly from shore, checking to see what the water temperature was on my Humminbird 897. For me at this time of the year, the one most important component of finding fish is locating warmer water than the main lake basin. On this particular two day trip we tried a number of different areas. Our best success was once again in a shallow, mud bottom bay that seemed to attract huge schools of minnows along with the insect larvae that also provide a major food source for the walleye and pike that roamed here. With the overcast and rain, the fish were on the hunt, hitting anything that moved, including our six inch Rapala Husky Jerks. Phil had a green and silver pattern on and I had a gold one on…both worked.

Later in the day we switched over to narrowed down sections off the main lake, areas that flush water from back bays depending on wind direction. Again these spots did not disappoint. While we did catch some fish deeper than seven feet on jigs, that’s not where the main action was.

When the sun came out the next day, we had a good early morning bite but by high noon the shallow action became limited to small pike. Still it was a fantastic way to kick of the season in the south.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I must apologize to my readers for falling down on the job with my fishing exploits.
I have taken a position as editor of Hooked Magazine and it has been very busy but extremely rewarding. I am currently working on the summer edition which will be out the first week in July. We have a special person on the front cover and I get the pleasure of interviewing this famous person! As a hint he loves to fish and hunt, plus play a bit of football.

I haven't forgotten to get out and fish though and have been on a couple of  great trips. I will tell you all about my visit in the next edition of the magazine under the Destination section.

I will also post shortly a story about a trip to Lake of the Woods  this week.
Here is a little preview.

Then this past month it was the unveiling of the provincial fish at the Fort Whyte Centre. Of course we all now know it was the wily walleye, the fish that has helped make Manitoba famous to anglers and food connoisseurs around the world. As Chairman of the selection committee, it wasn't a huge surprise that the walleye was chosen, given its status as table fair and its popularity as a sport fish. Still the mighty northern pike and the lake sturgeon had their share of support as well.  The walleye (or pickerel as it is known locally) had the highest percentage of votes in a poll conducted by the province.  It was this that helped convince Minister Mackintosh to name the walleye the provincial fish. The majority of anglers in this province target this species and many of our destinations involve catching this sport fish.