Tag Archives: Hiking

7

Canadian High Mountain Lakes (Gorgeous views guaranteed! Epic fishing a possibility…)

I am not a dedicated fisher of alpine stillwaters.  I have never planned a fishing trip where these destinations were the main focus.  On the other hand, I am an enthusiastic hiker who is always on the lookout for spectacular scenery. Not surprisingly, some of the most scenic trails wind up on the shore of a high mountain lake. And I am dedicated enough to tote along my fly rod

I have to admit that the fishing on these expeditions has been largely hit and miss, with much more emphasis on the “miss” portion.  Many mountain lakes –  because of short growing seasons, limited forage, winterkill, and a lack of spawning habitat – do not support large trout populations.  Other mountain lakes have a decent trout population, but while I’m fishing, which is usually close to noon in the middle of summer, the trout are hunkered down and uninterested.

Nevertheless, if there is a lake at the end of the trail, I am going to toss a few casts.  Occasionally, it pays off, like this past summer…

My girlfriend Deb and I were in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta.  We decided to hike the Alderson-Carthew Lakes trail; the word from the Visitor Info Center was that the views were stunning and the fishing was off the charts.  We set off at 9 AM, carrying day packs loaded with rain jackets, lunch, and fishing gear.

1For the first six miles of trail, the only scenery was the forest pushing in on either side of us. It was an uphill trudge through swarms of horse flies.  When the sign for Alderson Lake came into view, we were ready to stop.  About the same time, a hiker from the opposite direction told us that the trout in Carthew Lake –3 more miles up the trail – were going crazy.  So we decided to keep going.

At this point the trail started to climb into a truly amazing alpine environment. We were soon looking down at Alderson Lake and up toward the peaks that hid Carthew Lake:

2In another hour, we were at Carthew Lake.  It was how you would hope all mountain lakes would look, especially after hiking 9 miles to get there.  Better yet, there were trout rising sporadically.  The sun was high in the sky but the lake was cold enough that the trout – and whatever they were eating – welcomed the warmth.  I threw a small Adams beyond the sun-drenched shallows to the darker, deeper water.  It was engulfed immediately.

3

And so it went.  Every cast to the edge of the deep water brought an instant fish.  They were native, colorful cutthroats.  Most of them were eight  to ten inches long and a couple stretched out to twelve.  I was pleasantly surprised by the size; to be honest I was expecting hordes of stunted six inchers.

Casts that fell on the shallow, clear water were even more entertaining. Although a fly that landed on the shoreline shoal was never gobbled instantly, a cruising trout would notice it within a minute.  Then I would have the pleasure of watching the entire take.

4

The trout were just as active subsurface. Deb was using a spinning rod and a tiny spoon.  At any given time, she had a fish on and two or three others chasing it.

The fishing certainly wasn’t challenging, but it sure was fun.  After about an hour, we started to make our way back down the trail.   The scenery was just as gorgeous on the way back.

5

Post-Script….

A couple weeks later, we were further north in Alberta, on the road between Banff and Jasper National Parks.  We hiked into Helen Lake, a tiny tarn sitting amongst the usual array of peaks and meadows.  We left the fishing gear in the car, figuring that the lake was so tiny and so high that its fish population would be zero.  Wrong!

6

From the shoreline we could see dozens of cutthroat finning through the shallows and rising with semi-regularity.  It would have been a sight-fishing dream.  The moral of the story:  Always hike with fishing gear!

Orvis Sling Pack 2

Product Spotlight: The Orvis Guide Sling Pack

A good day fishing means that I need to be prepared for a majority of situations and have the right gear. That probably means that I need some snacks, a light jacket, some form of lunch, multiple waters, and my flies/leaders/tippet/misc ect. Finding the right pack for this type of job has been difficult for me to say the least.

A majority of the time a pack was either too cumbersome or bursting at the seams to fish with for the day. This meant that a majority of the time I found myself hiking back to my car at some point during the day to retrieve something that I had to leave behind.

Sling PackThis all changed when I was introduced to the Orvis Guide Sling Pack. This pack allows me to spend a whole day fishing either solo or playing Sherpa for friends without feeling weighed down. This pack has plenty of room. The sweetest thing about this pack is the simplicity and layout of the pack. The pack has three areas of storage. The largest zippered pocket can easily hold plenty of gear/provisions for the day.

On any given day you can find my pack filled with 4-5 boxes chalked full of flies ranging from a large C&F design streamer box to others containing various nymphs and dry fly offerings. Couple that with a couple, some snacks & lunch and 95 % of the time I am set for the day.

Sling Pack The two other storage areas on this pack are much smaller but are perfect for the smaller essentials like Leaders, Indicators, Split Shot and Dry Shake just to name a few. Of course this pack can be configured to suit the needs of any angler and the configuration of my pack will vary from outing to outing based on where and what species I may be targeting that particular day.

The great part of the pack is that gear access is a piece of cake. Simply undo the removable third strap around the chest and swing the main strap around your chest and all your gear is at your fingertips. Using the simple two straps and provided tippet holder keeps your entire tippet arsenal neat and tidy out of the way. The cherry on top is the main torso strap features a magnetic hemo holster and it also has many places for other accessories and tools.

Sling-InstructionsThe minimalist fisherman will not like this pack and it doesn’t have much in terms of organization. Just three simple pockets for all the gear needed for a day. Also some anglers may find a problem with the fact that this pack can only be worn over the right shoulder. Some may argue that the main strap may hinder the casting stroke. Being a left handed caster I cannot comment on whether or not this argument has validity.

With that being said, I feel this pack is the right tool for angler in any situation. To covering ground looking Pike & Musky to wading for trout this pack truly does it all! Don’t take my word for it though. Check it out by clicking HERE.

SIF84HW12FO_lg

Product Spotlight: The Improved Simms Headwaters ½ Day Pack

blogpho2
Ample Gear Storage

The Headwaters ½ day pack quickly became a shop favorite when it was released in 2012 and believe they have struck a home run with the 2014 model. The original was nice for short day trips, light and sleek, had a good amount of room for boxes, a light rain jacket, and the hydration bladder. Had an additional pocket for the smaller accessories and if you needed a little more room the hip and chest packs could be attached with Simms’s Catch and Release system. The only issue with the original, some days you wished the main compartment was just a little larger. Although you could fit a good amount into it, everything fitted into it tightly, requiring you to remove everything in the bag to reach items that may have slipped to the bottom.

DSCN0516
In Use (Looking For Bass)

The 2014 model of the Simms Headwaters ½ day pack is still lightweight and continues with most of the original features, hydration pouch, the Catch and Release Magnet system (on the front), and the breathable back panel, the main improvements are the larger main compartment and the DWR treated fabric. The larger 15 liter (915 cubic in) main compartment with stretch mesh dividers gives you a little more room and organization for all your gear, minimalizing the frustration of removing everything in order to reach items in the bottom of the bag.

The smaller compartment on the back has also been altered; they have made it larger in order to fit more accessories. They have used 420 Denier abrasion resistant fabric that’s treated with DWR for more water resistance and 630 Denier abrasion resistant fabric on the bottom for extra protection from wear. The designers also added magnetized tool ports on the shoulder straps which I found to be my favorite feature, nothing more annoying than consistently losing your hemostats or pliers because they weren’t as secure as you’d hoped or having to reach inside a pocket to get them.

The only thing I wished they continued with would be keeping the Catch and Release magnet system on the back of the bag, this was a nice feature when you were utilizing the hip or chest pack and throwing streamers, you had the extra room you needed and it was out of your way when stripping the fly. The larger secondary pocket makes up for this but it’s always nice to have the ability to add more room when needed.

SIF84HW12FO_lgAll in all this is still a sweet pack, fits well, has plenty of room for your short day trips, and distributes the weight superbly, this has been my go-to pack since it came out and will be for many days to come.

Check out the pack by clicking HERE