Here we are, back in reality. After a 7 day stint in the sun, we've returned to the frozen wasteland known as northern Alberta. A lot of times after a trip, I seem to be able to bitch and complain about the many things that usually go wrong through the trip(s). However, this journey was pretty well one of the most eye opening, informative trips I've ever taken, and looking back, its very hard to say anything went wrong. This is just part 1 of 3, and a bit of summary for what we went through during our stay in the F.L.Eh.
One of my objectives this trip, was to fish the waters nearest our place. To lay some ground work for future trips, and get the "home waters" figured out. Armed with a trusty, ultralite shallow drafting Grumman canoe, we launched in our canal, headed for the waterway that connects inshore saltwater to freshwater, a brackish river. A bit of research before the trip, pointed us to a few key areas. We hoped as the incoming tide came in, it would bring in an influx of baitfish, and with baitfish, come the predators. It did not take long, for the pesky gar to take swipes at my light saber. That got old quick. We continued on, blasting dock structure hoping for any predator to come out in attack with reckless abandon. Well, it didn't take long for a snook to show itself, blasting my minnow from below like a shark. However, he was of the micro variety... still this was the first snook to come to boat, and we had some success, anything after, would just be icing on the cake.
Things just got better and better, it was only within another 15 mins that another snook, however this time double the size took hammered my minnow, I still have a hard time believing a 20" snook could turn a 15' canoe 180 degrees, but it happened, this thing was mean. Having a fish that weighed probably close to a pound or two jack up a 8wt and spin us around, life was good, 1 hour into the exploratory fishing, we plugged two fish. Mission accomplished?
As we turned around our canoe and headed back, there had been a back bay previously occupied by a party pontoon boat, a small bay that I had been told had a huge mix of everything in it. We had been blasting cast after cast into structures along the river on the way back, when I noticed something come right to boat, it was quick. I barely caught a glimpse of this predator. It happened again, and again. I finally focused on what was happening, and what I noticed next, was as my rod tip dipped in and out of the water as I was stripping, Jack Crevalle, thought it was a struggling baitfish. Now these things are freaking mean, I never stung those fish that were trying to eat my rod tip, but it got my blood boiling and ready for what was about to happen.
As we entered this small back bay, a couple of things were apparent, the bay had 4 or 5 manatees in it (warm water was obviously the draw for these sea cows), along with something that would occasionally roll. I had the nerve to stand up in that narrow canoe, and get a better look at what was moving. When I stood up, there must've been a school of 50+ jacks, some big, some small just cruising the surface. I picked up my rod, and dropped in on the school. The fish freaked.... Mistake number one, never drop your fly on a school of fish. But it really didn't take long for them to show themselves again, this time I tried to lead the fish, but the school shattered before my fly even landed and once again dove deep. Frustrating, we proceeded to work the edges, armed with my 8wt, intermediate saltwater tip line, and an EP minnow, I began to aim at the buckets in the mangroves hoping a big snook would be basking in this warm water back bay. I think it may have been my 3rd cast, and I got ROCKED. I've never felt something like that in my life of fishing for trout, pike, or salmon. My 8wt doubled over like a limp noodle, and all Sam could say with urgency from the back of the canoe was, "Shit, this thing is towing the canoe!". Thinking I had hooked a massive snook, or a bigger jack, we got this thing closer and closer to the boat. We broke out in laughter, this jack had to have been 20 inches absolute tops. It weighed 2 pounds. A 2 pound fish that can tow a canoe and pretty well kick my 8wt's ass. My life changed, I think at that moment, trout fishing took a back seat in my life.
This went on for a little while longer, I hooked up on another similar sized jack and the same thing ensued, however this time, as this jack came to the boat, a monster circled, and took a run at him. The jack swimming below me, had to have ben 15 pounds +, angrier then hell, and probably capable of turning my 4 piece Sage, into a 8 piece. I clearly wasn't fishing big enough flies or rods for those big back water gangsters.
We called it a day shortly after, paddled our way back to our home base, with big shit eating grins on our faces. We felt like we more then accomplished our exploratory task. We found fish, we hooked fish. Not bad for a couple of trout bum hacks.