We managed to squeeze one more trip in, before 2012 expired…
First, we headed to Wholesale Sports in Kamloops (which is an awesome store, just like a smaller Bass Pro or Cabelas if you’ve ever been…..but kinda like the Tesco Express version!) and we got a few bits like smaller jigs and grubs (kicking myself for selling all my U/L jigs!) and Katie and I got a rod and reel combo each too for the use of as well as some jars of Krill for bait………… just in case.
We also spent some valuable time chatting to one of the guys in there, a lovely, friendly chap by the name of Ken, who is VERY experienced and a former guide on the local waters who was very helpful in giving us further insight on what to try in terms of tackle, baits and technique.
So, we decided to take a punt on a lake which has a good reputation for big fish, indeed the pictures I have seen of the Rainbows are the fattest I have ever seen, they’re akin to Carp! It is also the “Eastern” Brook Trout that the lake is known for and a noted ice fishing venue so we were hopeful for a good few hours if nothing else its somewhere new to have a look at.
The road to the Forest Service Road (FSR) which connects this lake is only 10 minutes out of town but its then 40kms on the snowy FSR on packed snow getting to quite an elevation to reach the venue. I was VERY glad to have 4 x 4 and I was in no hurry to get there seeing the sheer drops of some parts of the road which are cut out of the steep hillside with nothing at all to break your fall. But it was a stunning drive once you get used to it, taking the better part of an hour mostly climbing and passing only ranches, deer and the odd truck coming in the other direction, the drive was worth the trip alone!
We landed at the lake with snow falling to see perhaps a half dozen other trucks & little camps on the ice including one we suspected to be Ken from the outfitters (a large 6 man tent, a quad and the smell of burgers drifting from out of the tent!) so we hastily got the sled and us packed, strapped & ready and began hauling across the ice via the big tent to say hello. It was Ken and his buddies but not much doing at his but a few pointers from him and we were on our way to fish across the lake from them close to the island.
Snow no longer falling and brightening up, her ladyship commenced with the setting up of the camp whilst I set about the ice with the auger…… its about 8″ thick and hard as rock and whilst we acquired the auger for zero dollars, I do believe a new one is high up on my shopping list! I’ve only gone and worked up a sweat which in the sub-zero temps is not really wise but I am covered with good base and mid layers.
But the ice is thick enough to take vehicles across………not that I would risk it!
The previous night I had an idea, a hunch on what might well work which was essentially tying up a few (fairly crude, I have not tied trout flies for donkeys years!) Woolly Buggers on jigheads to imitate leeches which I know to be prevalent in most of these lakes so I tied one on and lowered it into the darkness whilst herself I kind of dropshotted a shrimp pattern fly using a single SSG. We found the depth to be a decent 10′ so I was happy we were all good.
The general tactic for jigging around here (as most places I guess) is to hit the bottom, work the area and then progressively move up through the water column until you find where the fish are feeding and today it turns out that that appears to be just off the bottom.
Fish on, and I’m pleased as A. its on one of my own works of art and B. its my first ever Brookie. A beautiful little gem, maybe a half pound which was quickly photographed and slid back into the depths but a good little confidence booster.
Katie then tied on the jig I caught on previously and we were both now buoyed by that fish and we were staring down into the depths working our lures.
Now it seems that the visual aspect of ice fishing is not to be under estimated and this is where you need the tent, not only does it keep the wind off you but it also shades the area allowing you to see the fish, depths permitting. Katie found this out as she then started getting hits from a fish she was watching hitting her lure which she briefly hooked but sadly lost but action is good particularly when its likely 10 below!
As the temperature began to drop and we had dopey spaniel Katie took a walk around the island to warm up herself and the dog whilst I hung about and soldiered on.
Jigging now just so the lure is coming and then going out of sight I caught for a flash, and another and then the familiar hit and I’m in again, its not big but almost identical to the last and typically Mrs Photographer is out of earshot so a couple of awkward solo one handed shots trying to keep a grip of the fish and he’s slipped back to keep on growing.
With the last of the coffee poured from my thermos and the temperature dropping quite noticeably and a new years party to attend we decided to wrap up sharpish and call it a day.
Then, the best treat of the day, now bear in mind we are miles and miles from “civilisation” and despite some of the cabins around the lake being used, the silence is stunning and its broken by a sound familiar even though I’ve never actually heard it “live”………
Wolves! howling through the mountains! not likely very close but unmistakable, the call of the wild in all its spine tingling glory. Truly awesome.
We soaked it up and headed off back to the truck and the drive back home before it got dark stopping for a few pictures and not wanting to drive to fast in the packed snow. Back home for a S,S & a S and off out for our first Canadian new year. (REALLY missed Jools’ Hootenanny, the Canadian version as is most of their music…..pretty terrible!)
A few shots from the drive back:
I am learning lots like I am going to stop using fixed spools for jigging so close as the line twist is horrible and I intend to employ small fly reels as I believe will solve this therefore preventing me launching my gear into orbit! (Think Trilene Big-Game when Pike fishing in the early nineties and spilling off the spool at will and getting behind the handles, switch…everywhere! drove me f***ing nuts!) the F/S outfit will be used for bait fishing then I guess, I will be getting some smaller seats or doing what a lot do here and perch on buckets so we can use the tent, a new auger and get my outfits all set up with lines that behave on baby multipliers/centrepinned reels.
I intend to start tying flies again and the ice jigs will break me back into it.
Great fun though and I feel the learning curve getting less steep!
Happy new year y’all!
(Hungover in Kamloops, B.C.)