Adventures on Frenchman’s Creek

Anytime I get some advice I like to take it with a grain of salt, cause lets be realistic, you always meet these dudes who tell you where to go and it turns out to be a goose chase.

“Ya man just drive down the road 10 miles and take your first right to get to the spot. It’s called Frenchman’s Creek, toss a line into the first pool, you won’t be able to keep fish off your line.”

Things are a bit different when you get the advice from a guy like Neil Waugh though. I had the opportunity to pick his brain on where a good spot to fish was a few weeks back. After a couple quick questions, he had a recommendation for me and I was scheduled to set out the next day.

Rob who was supposed to come with, couldn’t make it though so we postponed till this past Sunday. Things were pretty straight forward. Leave at 6am, be fishing by 9am, head out when we stop catching fish or the sun goes down. Rob is a real minimalist so that was acceptable to him.

The level of his minimalism was what surprised me. He didn’t bring his fly rod because he only had sinking line and elected to borrow my ugly stick with a spinning reel instead. Also he decided to wade wet. Bottom line the guys got some balls, and given he is used to fishing rivers like the Bow, Livingston, and Oldman he wasn’t getting them wet and even if he did “the water aint that cold.”

Now many of you are probably wondering the area we were in, and if you do some digging on twitter you’ll find out, but until then all I’ll say is we were somewhere on highway 47.

The creek we were on was pretty diverse. In most places you could find a gravel bottom with larger rocks and good structure with some deadfall. Other areas of the river were classic beaver dammed water, with plenty of silt and mud on the bottom. The damming made things a bit challenging for wading and getting good footing.  Walk up stream and you could even find some decent sized pools, and in some places long grasses like you find in Stauffer Creek.

During the day we ran into a three other guys and took turns walking up stream before we broke away. After we put some distance in between us, I threw on a pattern called Gabriel’s Trumpet about a foot below my strike indicator. I had a real nice dead drift going and given the gold bead I could see it very clearly. Even better was watching the Arctic Grayling take it so willingly. After a short fight I brought him in and Rob rushed over and got that famous shot holding the dorsal fin before I released him.

We walked a bit more found a vintage beer can near a really wide pool and decided to head back after about 45 minutes with no luck. By that time it was 2 O’clock and there was some rain clouds moving in. I was a bit warm from bushwhacking so I decided to wade a bit and cool down. I was pissing around with some casting and the creek was moving at a nice even pace I could follow and my line wouldn’t more. By this time the Trumpet was lost up a tree and I had a Black Chronomid on. I was telling Rob how inefficient this technique was cause although there was little sediment it was all being washed downstream towards my fly. Then my strike indicator disappeared and I had a fish on. This one put up a great fight and was diving and jumping but I kept it on. I had about 25 feet of line out but was able to reel it in and net my first Athabasca Rainbow. What a beauty of a fish.

Unfortunately Rob didn’t catch anything, we passed the guys we passed earlier in the day and they were where I caught my grayling. The one guy who had a line in hooked into 3 fish when we were there but they all got off. The last one was pretty big from what I saw. All in all it was a great day. It all started with a tip and I definitely learned a few things.

#1 – Always bring all your gear.

#2 – If someone tells you to hit up Frenchman’s Creek you’re on a goose chase.

Enjoy the photos.

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Lake Chickakoo

Last time I came to Lake Chickakoo was in late October a few seasons back. Eric had promised me spawning Brook Trout with brilliant orange bellies and giant hook jaws. Needless to say at the time I was totally sold. Once we arrived the water looked awesome. Like a sheet of glass it was so calm. It might have been looked calm but that’s because it was frozen. Long story short we spent some time trying to break the ice but didn’t manage to get a line in the water. That was my only Chickakoo Story till today.

Logan and I hatched a plan to put the float tubes in the water this weekend on Sunday. We didn’t leave super early but got there around 10:30. It was there first time I had my float tube out so I was pretty pumped. The only set back was the wind came up as soon as we got there. Logan ended up talking to a guy who was just leaving, and he had already had a pretty successful day, landing five or six trout that morning. He said most of the ones he pulled in were only hovering around about 6 inches though. Either way I was fired up. He also gave us a tip to hit Sour Lake which isn’t to far from where we were for bigger fish. So watch for that in the future.

Logan pulled one in within about 5 minutes of being on the water and then a few more when he was in a bay a bit further out. I only managed to get a few nibbles and some very tangled line.

Like I mentioned earlier wind was a factor. I couldn’t get too far down the lake but Logan seemed to be having a better time navigating. Casting became and issue when you got into the very middle of the lake but if you hung around the bays it was manageable. I still haven’t acquired a new spool and put sinking line on it, so I threw some split shot on.

After proclaiming that I was stating to think I was the worst fisherman in Alberta he mentioned leaving and getting lunch which sounded pretty good to me. We were still casting on the way in and in the bay near where we parked the fish we really biting. He caught a few nice Brook Trout and I caught a nice 8 inch Brook Trout of my own.

Here are the photos, next time we’ll hit Sour.

Enjoy

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Canada Day Fly Fishing

What is better than fishing on Canada Day? Maybe catching a fish on Canada Day! This is mainly a photo update but since Canada Day fell on a Friday, Logan and I hatched (no pun intended) a plan to go fly fishing at Stauffer Creek and set out early. We even saw a few young Moose on the way out.

 

The day was warm but not baking hot and the cloud cover was good since I have heard Brown Trout don’t like the sun. We didn’t catch any thing which is pretty standard for me, but we had tons of bites. I found it frustrating because they bite so gingerly it’s hard to know what’s really happening even with a strike indicator. We fished the North Raven River before moving to the Raven River proper. It was the same places I fished with Mike last fall. When we got to the last part near the Provincial Rec Area, the Mosquitoes were so bad it drove us to the car and ultimately home.

 

Enjoy the photos; I still can’t get over how driving a relatively short distance (100 meters in some cases) can change the scenery so much.

 

Cheers

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Paintballing for Shaun’s Bachelor Party

Well last week was one for the books. Not only was it Shaun’s last weekend as a boy but it was his first as a man. Mike had organized a site up near Valleyview on the Waskahigan Provincial Rec Area. It rained most of the way there but that was all good. Apparently there was a nice cook shack and a wood burning stove if it really started raining.

 

Fortunately there was no fire ban this weekend and we were able to have a fire in both the great outdoors and the great indoors. The down side of the site was there was no designated firewood bin. There was some available but by the time we got there most of it was wet. We had planned to bring wood as well which was a total pain in the ass. I drove up alone with a few boxes of logs; Eric brought some as well as Logan. We pretty much burned through that the first night.

 

That first night was a doozy. I don’t know what we were drinking or if its just all getting older but I was in pretty rough shape the next day. I woke up at around 9:30 and went down to the cook shack to make some breakfast. When I looked at the state of affairs and what I had to do and set up I turned around and went back to bed. About 11am Logan was driving around beeping his horn to wake us all up. So I went to make breakfast and was told were leaving in about 10 minutes. There goes breakfast. Good thing I brought a cup of soup. I boiled some water made some soup and some coffee then hit the road with Eric and Mike.

 

It was a long haul to the paintball place. Originally we were supposed to go to a place in Valleyview but it never opened for the season so we went to plan B and headed to the next closest one which was near Grand Prairie.

 

So after a long haul for the old Jetta we arrived and got to it. I’ve had my own gun and equipment for some time and brought that along which was pretty sweet. It didn’t necessarily mean I did very well though. The field we were playing at was called “Splatter Paintball” and was roughly 12 kms from the main highway. We had a group of about 16 and divided the teams according to mask color provided. The field was pretty good and had a speedball course, a town, a barrel and tire course and one with two opposing forts and a mirrored town. The other field was a bush ball field in the woods with a few man made obstacles and bunkers.

 

The refs were pretty great as well. We had all played before and after a safety talk and after they established we had all played before they left us to do as we pleased. The first two games we split for the win and then I lost track of who was winning or losing. I got hit a few times but didn’t really have any zingers till I took a head shot right above my mask during a match on the barrel course. After a few more structured games we played on the bush ball course for three or four games. I got lit up on the first one and have some nice welts on my kidney because of it; the second game I played on that one was pretty good. I got a few people out but the most memorable kill was getting Logan as he was sneaking up behind me.

 

The gauntlet was what killed me. We had planned to have just Shaun run the gauntlet on the speedball course but after Justin shot him in the neck while he wasn’t paying attention we decided that to get Shaun to run the gauntlet the rest of us would have to go too. We took turns running in pairs and it was a riot. I paired up with Eric and the dick pushed me over and I didn’t get up cause my mask slipped. So there I lay and everyone just unloaded on me. This affirmed to me that I have some of the best friends in the world.

 

I wasn’t to jazzed after that, I had taken a few too many shots and after a few more games I called it quits. The others played a few games to get rid of the rest of their paint and then we hit the dirt road for and went back to the site for one hell of a night.

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Follow up: GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Base Camper Cookset

Last week I did a follow up on the Tarn 3 Review I did. Here is the follow up on the GSI Outdoors bugaboo base camper cook set.

 

The Bugaboo has a Teflon cook set so make sure you have the proper tools not to scratch the coating. Also keep in mind that it is not designed for super high heat so watch out.

 

Breakfast is the strong set of this cook set. I have a 2 burner Coleman camp stove which works like a charm. I no longer cook beans when I do breakfast like before. Just bacon, eggs and hash browns. I don’t use the lids anymore unless I’m boiling water. The best thing to use the lids for is covering your bacon and hash browns while you cook your eggs. I did cook some beans and wieners on my one burner stove and it worked really well.

 

During the past two outings I haven’t used the 2 liter pot but would if I was cooking for two. For myself the 1.5 liter pot works fine.

 

Cleaning is easy. If you don’t have any water a paper towel will do nicely, but as with all outings it’s important to wash it when you get back to civilization.

 

I did have one of the lids start to get warm and melt during May Long but I caught it before it stuck to the pot or damaged the lid any further. Emails to GSI regarding this issue went unanswered but other than that lack of customer service I’m really happy with this purchase.

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Follow Up: Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Tarn 3

Here is a follow up on the Gear Review I did on MEC’s Tarn 3 Tent.

 

Last time I slept in it was during a trip to Drumheller. Since then I’ve slept it in for 7 full nights. Three over May Long and Four when I travelled to Sasquatch Music Festival.

 

Over May Long, the site we chose had a lot of moss and I didn’t have to put it onto a gravel pad. This was comfortable but I do think the ground sheet helped. I got a bit of water in during a Sunday night rainstorm but not enough to be significant. It was revealed that I forgot to do up a Velcro strap on the fly that attached to the pole. I also forgot to do a peg to one of the ropes to shed water. Given this fact I think that having this been done properly there would be no leakage.

 

I really like the vestibule and stored my waders and shoes there during may long. This is perfect for muddy shoes and having a bit of dry space when putting them on. The temperature dropped during both trips but I was comfortable and had a great sleep.

 

Condensation was minimal. I kept the vent on the door open half way on all nights as well as the vent that was on the fly. I love the vent on the fly because it can be fully open and still not allow any water to get in.

 

Take down time varies depending on your commitment level, but during Sasquatch I had it down and packed in under 10 minutes.

 

All in all, I would buy this tent again. It’s a bit heavy so it is going to be better suited for destination camping rather than backpacking.

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A Fireless May Long

Well this post is long over do, and everyone knows it. But long story short May long was unreal. It always is, but the jury was out until the weekend was over. For those who don’t know, or had their heads in the sand, there was a province wide fire ban due to a wildfire that destroyed most of Slave Lake. I checked the reports daily and really hoped the ban would be lifted in our area but it didn’t happen. While I sympathize with all affected by the wildfire, I think the move for a provincial fire ban was purely political. It was imposed to show some measure of control in a situation that was totally beyond the control of authorities. I’m not a big political commentator but when we rocked up to the campsite the road had puddles on it, the campsite was wet and there was water dripping from the trees. However ridiculous it may have been there would be no fire that weekend.

 

Lucky for us the first night was unseasonable warm for this weekend and I was able to wear my shorts till I turned it. It becomes very apparent how important fire is though. Like jumping over it FUBAR Style, throwing camp chairs in it and just having something to watch and cook on. We passed the time with cards and drinking games and after everyone was sufficiently bombed we headed to bed before the sun woke up.

 

After waking up and cooking breakfast we decided to hit the river. Last year we pretty much just played beersbee the whole time and the fishing was minimal. Saturday we tried a new spot that was downstream from us instead of upstream near the bridge. There were tons of spots to fish and we spread out. The original spot I was working was right where a current was changing and circling a deep pool. I’m sure there were fish in there, but no one could hook one. Chris and I waded upstream and I did spook a few fish out from under a fallen tree, but that was all the fish I saw that day. By this time I was getting pretty hungry and thirsty so we headed back.

 

Saturday was mostly about beersbee though. For those who don’t know the Rules of Beersbee click the link. Logan who was the reigning beersbee champion was not able to attend the weekend. While this really sucked it meant a new champion would be crowned. As a side note Logan made a legit trophy in his spare time that will be unveiled June 25th. Dave had drawn up a bracket and we had a round robin of seven people participating. Nik ended up dropping out cause he was sleeping off his hangover so the rest of us played through. I had a rocky start against Ben who was one of the favorites for tourney. I had lost 2 points on pole hits and needed to get my focus back. My next three throws were all beauties, and I scored 4 unanswered points. Turns out I peaked during that game and ended up dropping the next four games, thus missing the finals. Colin and I tied for last place with one win each. I beat Ben and Colin beat me. Ben and Dave ended up squaring off during the finals and Simon and Chris, who was the odds on favorite for the weekend played in the toilet bowl.

 

I took an awesome video of the final but for some reason I cannot get it off my camera. When I figure out how to do this and get it edited, I’ll upload it to our YouTube and dedicate a post to it here. I really wish I had it ready right now because the final was unreal. Start to finish the entire game was about 5 minutes long. The tempo was unreal and both Dave and Ben made some crazy catches. In the end Ben took the win with a great can hit and he gave a good interview afterward.

 

Saturday night we one for the books, the beer was flowing pretty freely and we were also having smoke rolling contests which were pretty memorable. After a significant number of beers we saw some headlights coming through the woods and thinking it was the ranger because we were raising all hell it was a total surprise when we saw who it was. Shaun himself! He said the drive from Grand Prairie was pretty hairy but was relived to have a beer and proceeded to tie one on with us like crazy. Simon and Chris ended up staying up till after the sun came up. Their morning was super fun.

 

Sunday was the best. After having my standard breakfast we laid around and had a beer or two before heading to the river. Colin, Shaun and I decided to get some fishing done upstream and I scouted ahead for a spot I wanted to try. I found a great spot with rocks that created a shallow but wide pool broken up by other large boulders. The main benefit was a run of fast current on the edge and after Shaun recommended where to throw my second cast I hooked into a nice whitefish. It was only about 8 feet away when I got the hook set and after a short fight I had it netted and ready for a photo. The biggest bonus was that I caught it on the Olive Wooly Bugger I tied. Talk about a good Sunday. Again I was the only one who caught a fish. Shaun mentioned the Trout would start biting later in the season and when I returned back to the city my neighbor mentioned the Whitefish run there during October. Possible fall trip in order? 

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Sunday night played out like Saturday except we had the rain and strung up a tarp. No fire sucked at this point and while it wasn’t uncomfortable it defiantly wasn’t comfortable either. I ended up getting the start of some sickness on the Saturday and I didn’t sleep well because of this and it was raining so hard it was noisy in the tent.

 

Monday was Monday, we broke camp and got the hell out of dodge, back to the real world. Oh and big surprise the fire ban was lifted on Tuesday.

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