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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