The Wizard Lake Invitational

Originally I was not going to write anything, but after reviewing my old plan I didn’t see how I could not, but still have people understand.

The Wizard Lake Invitational has for a few years now been our last hurrah for camping and one of our last organized Beersbee tournaments. However, as you will see from the pictures, things deteriorated into an all out drinking competition in short order.

Wizard Staffs is a Wizard Lake tradition. I had seen it in pictures years ago and last year tried it out when we held the first invitational. The point is to drink your height in beer. My height works out to 19 beers – a tall order for any man. Here are the pics.

Enjoy!

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Armed and Harmless

Heres Colin’s take on our excursion to the shooting range. There is also a video I shot in the media section.

 

Enjoy,

 

I get a call from Tom Sunday at the crack of noon; I’m like half awake, half asleep when he starts to tell me his fishing trip was cancelled due to the crappy weather.  I was still impressed from the awesome bank heist movie The Town, which I would put right up there with Heat, but not better than. It really made me want to go look at some guns, and I’ve been tempting the idea of getting my firearms license so I can get a rifle. My weapon of choice would be British Lee Enfield 303, but the store I knew would have one is closed on Sundays. So Tom floats the idea instead of looking at some guns, let’s go shoot some down at Wild West Shooting Center.  A good idea is a good idea. 

 

Tom rolled over to my place at around 1:00 PM and we kicked it down to the West end which is no stranger to gun fire.  When we arrived the place was pretty busy with some curious onlookers who wanted to see the arsenal the store holds. We took a gander as well and then checked price guide for the shooting gallery. Tom knew right away he wanted to shoot .45’s, because that’s what the Delta Force guys use. Me, I had no idea what to shoot, the only ammo I know of are the 9 mm, and the .44 Magnum. Cops use 9 mm’s, and Dirty Harry uses a .44.  I figured I’d go along with Tom’s plan, but I was initially deterred by the price, you pay $26 for a day pass, then it’s between $38-$55 for a box of 50 bullets, and $2 for your target sheets. I was like forget that, but since we’re here already let’s do this thing. We signed up, paid our money, and picked the Zombie Target Sheets (you never know when the Zombie apocalypse may come, so be prepared), grabbed our eye and ear protection and walk into the firing range.

 

I was shocked by the pressure when a shot is fired, I’d never experienced it before indoors, I’d used a shotgun once but that was out in the bush.  We had to wait our turn while other people fired off their rounds. When our turn was up we walked over to our stalls and the guy gave us the options of the Ruger and the 1911, they were the only .45s they had. Tom was stoked because Delta Force uses 1911’s. We switched off on both of them, shooting 25 on one and 25 on the other. We did make a gentleman’s bet on who was more accurate but we buggered that one up when we didn’t switch targets between guns.  We were given instructions on safety and then on how to use the guns.

 

I got the Ruger first and when I pushed in my first clip I was like wow, this is it; I hold 8 men’s lives in my hand right now. Pushing the thoughts of murder aside, I drew onto the Zombies on the target, aiming for the head rather than the stupid target ring. Besides every one knows you have to shoot Zombies in the head to kill them. My first shot startled me, the reality of the gun kicked in, this thing will fuck a person up, and when you feel the weight and the size of the bullet, it will put you down.  With the first shot out of the way, I carried on bang, bang, bang, until we switched and it was my turn with the 1911. I liked this one more, it felt more comfortable to handle and I found it easier to shoot off more rounds quickly. 

 

I don’t know if Tom is more pro or if he was just more eager than me, but when he finished shooting I was just loading my last clip.  When I finished I was pretty stoked and wanted to shoot some more, but I reckon this was enough for a first go. With the Gun Shot Residue still fresh on my hand we took some photos and hit the old dusty trail. All in all it was a great experience and I would definitely go do it again, but talking with some folks there are other places around town to go shoot some guns for a little bit cheaper.  No lie about it, holding a gun is pretty bad ass, and it definitely makes me want to acquire my licence to do some hunting this fall with my Dad and some buddies.

 

-Colin Blyth

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Raven River/Stauffer Creek

The day after the fishing derby was the day that mattered. Earlier in the week over beer and chicken wings I had discussed with a few guys from our fishing club if anyone wanted to go fish Stauffer Creek. I had previously wanted to go the weekend before but no one was available and the one guy who was didn’t have any waders. By Sunday I was seriously hankering for some stream fishing. I’m actually surprised that we didn’t do more of it this year.

 
Mike and I planned to get an early start at 6 am and fish for the whole day. We arrived at roughly 8:30 after getting out of the city a bit later due to a fuel and coffee stop. But the day was young and we scouted a spot on Stauffer Creek (also know as the North Raven River). Being that we had all day we decided to scout another spot on the Raven River and come back to Stauffer later in the afternoon.

  
Now one thing that should be noted is that both the Raven and Stauffer Creek are naturally spring feed creeks that wind through a variety of terrain. We started off in a pine forest that had pastures around it but also fished in areas with dense deciduous brush, farmland, and open pastures with cattle crazing near by. The bottom is mostly made up of a fine to course gravel with almost no silty areas. We did encounter some of these along the Raven but if you were careful you won’t disturb the bottom. Stauffer Creek is a bit different, where we tried had lots of plant growth and had more of a muddy bottom. There are also beaver dams which provide nice still water. Banks are undercut in most places and in sections where pine grows there are often fallen trees right over the creek or in the water. Some could be crossed over or under but some you had to go around. By far my favorite feature of this river was that it was so clear and visibility was very good in all the places we fished. I’m told that this is what streams in New Zealand are like and if that’s the case I’m planning a trip!

 

When we actually got fishing things went pretty smoothly, we took turns wading in front and in back and worked spots where we thought might hold some fish. I’ve been told that the brown trout is the smarted and most easily spooked trout of them all and I defiantly believe it. I was hoping to do some fishing by sight but was not able to get a good view of any for my vantage point in the creek. I think this has a bit to do with my relative inexperience with stalking but I’m happy to learn which is a good thing. Mike and I did see a few browns in the 10-12 inch range throughout the day but they were moving so quick we didn’t really see where they ended up. 
 

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As we walked back to the car for some lunch we ran into the local conservation officer and had a good chat with him, asked for some tips and showed him some bones we found in the bush. He said that they were probably left over from last season and that it’s encouraged to leave some of the kill behind. The main reason he gave for this was that when you take an animal out of the environment you don’t want to take all the nutrients out as well. Hence the bones and hide we found. Pretty simple but something I would have never thought of. After checking our documents and hooks for barbs he departed, but not before mentioning that there were poachers in the area and if we saw any to give him a call. We assured him we would and then we dug into a few cans of beans to fuel up for the afternoon.

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After lunch we drove over to where we had initially scouted and after getting geared up we started our wade. Things we dramatically different on the Stauffer. It was more of a muddy bottom with tons of aquatic plants for fish to hide in. there was a few pretty deep holes we had to navigate as well and after rounding a bend while I was leading I found a beaver dam that were rumored to have big browns hiding on the other side. I crept up but didn’t see anything hanging around so I entered cautiously and started some casting to some undercuts and some deadfalls. Mike made it over to the dam and we set off upstream but things got a bit dicey. I started to wade in and the cut of the bank was pretty step and when I got to a comfortable spot it got uncomfortable pretty quickly. Unlike the bottom 20 yards downstream this was very silty and I kept sinking in. It also had lots of plant growth so I couldn’t judge the depth very well. I decided to turn back and try below the bridge we had worked up from previously. Below the bridge was a bit uneventful and turned into much the same as it had when I started sinking in.

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On a hot tip from the officer we met before, we headed to a lower section of the Raven River and found that it was much like the upper section only wider. This was my favorite area, the current was good, there was plenty of places I think fish would hide and the sun had come out was poking through the trees and warming out backs. Being late in the day we fished for a few more hours, hours that seemed to pass quite quickly. We reached a part of the creek that looked perfect but saw no fish. We walked up and bit more and were able to catch a glimpse of some brook and brown trout swimming either way in the creek. seemingly uninterested in our presentation they passed on and after a short walk back to the car we left fishless but satisfied, content that we would be back. And hopefully with a few of the other guys.

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The Raven River and North Raven River are roughly 50 km west of Innisfail. Those looking to fish either of these rivers should head along highway 54. Taking roads south will take you to the many bridges that cross the Raven River which parallels the highways. Highway 761 crosses Stauffer Creek near the Lazy M Ranch and is where we fished. There are other places to start from by traveling north on many of the range roads. There was also a great writeup in Fly Fusion this month about the Raven River.

Fishing Derby!

I went out to a small family fishing derby that my girlfriend Megan’s cousin was having. It’s an annual thing and the small pond on their property is stocked every spring with about 50 rainbow trout. The main idea is to clear it out so that the majority of the fish get eaten and not winterkilled.

 Originally my plan was to bring my spin casting gear with my tackle box of spinning hooks. Things like Meeps Spinners, Meeps Comets and Panther Martins. Ben always says that they make Trout go crazy and that is what he was using when I caught my first fish in the Muskeg River. I also planned to bring my fly rod and a selection of rainbow trout flies and try my hand at that. When we were leaving Megan mentioned that it was not a very big lake and to please not bring my float tube. While I would have loved to do that, I understood what she was saying when we got there. 

The time was around 12 o’clock and people had been fishing for about 45 minutes when we showed up. Mark who owns the property had mentioned that there were a few very large fish that had survived the winter and were still cruising the depths of the pond. To get a mental picture of how big the pond was, imagine a large house in your city, so roughly 100 feet by 50 feet. Depth was apparently 10 feet. There was an aerator and lots of aquatic plants. A dock stretched about 25-30 feet from shore on the north side and this is where the majority of the kids were fishing.

 We started going around the lake and had little luck, but we could have made an awesome salad after about 30 minutes. I switched between a Meeps Comet and a Meeps Spinner before trying a few different spoons from my Trout box. I had brought my other tackle box and after looping around the lake, I started searching for something that may be effective that would sink down to the bottom (nothing was rising). Then someone yelped from the dock.

 What had happened was that one of Mark’s sons had left his rod hanging over the edge of the dock unattended with a bobber and leech or worm on the hook. And while no one was looking, something snagged it and took the rod with it. I was a ways back so I didn’t see what was happening in the water, all I saw was Mark reaching in after the rod that was trailing behind the fish.

I got to say, I was a bit heart broken, here I was all geared up and ready to go and this kid hooks a fish that was obviously big enough to yank his rod around and keep swimming with it. When he managed to pull it in this is what came out. This was the best picture we could get because the dock was pretty packed.

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The fish was massive. I could see it from 50 feet away. The fish weighed 5.7 pounds! After that my heart just wasn’t in it. I’m convinced fish will talk to each other, and while it may sound stupid no one caught anything from that time till the time we left at around 3:30. I did see it or another big one a few times. It rose where I was dragging my hook a few times but didn’t strike at all. Just swam to the surface, taunting me.