Should I head down to the river to fish for the day or take my pontoon boat out and do some lake fishing, instead? That was the question I had to answer on Wednesday. The salmonfly hatch has started on the Crowsnest River and water conditions were excellent for this time of year. The river was wadeable and there was at least three feet of visibility. It’s not often you have this kind of water clarity in the river at the end of May. The spring runoff was in progress, but cooler temperatures had slowed the snow-melt in the mountains. The weather forecast was calling for it to start raining in the afternoon and for it to continue for at least the next few days. I knew this was probably going to be my last chance to hit the river before it muddied up. If I didn’t fish the Crow today, I’d probably have to wait a couple weeks before conditions improve. It was a tough decision to make, and in the end I opted for rowing my pontoon boat on a lake.

Terry reaching out to net a nice rainbow trout.
Terry reaching out to net a nice rainbow trout

 I headed west of town, just across the Alberta-BC border and met Terry at Summit Lake. His pontoon boat was in the water and he was already rigged up when I arrived. A couple of other friends were gearing up on shore, too. Terry has been having some great action on the lake for several weeks, fishing mainly with chironimid (midge) patterns, suspended beneath a strike indicator. While some people compare this type of fishing to “watching paint dry,” I enjoy it … especially if there’s a chance of hooking a big trout.

Ponton Boat Fishing

A happy angler!

 Terry rowed out a little ways from shore and started fishing, while I assembled my gear. Before I had even strung my rod I glanced up, only to see that Terry’s rod was doubled over. Moments later, he netted his first trout of the day. I quickened my pace and in a short time was on the water, myself. The fish were cooperative from the get-go and the fishing was steady the entire time we were out. I landed a colorful brook trout early on, but it was all rainbows after that. I didn’t latch onto any cutties, but I think Terry managed to get one. The rainbows were gorgeous and displayed some of their amazing aerobatic qualities for us. I seldom count fish and didn’t this day, either. However, we caught plenty of trout and it appeared everyone else out that day did, too. At one point I looked up and every boat within sight had a trout on the end of a line.

Around 4.30 pm, the sky opened and the rain started to fall. By morning the Crow was the color of chocolate milk. Even though I would have enjoyed fishing the river had I done this instead, I still feel I made the right decision to fish the lake on Wednesday. I’ll get back to river soon enough.  Also, when the fish are biting like they were at Summit, it doesn’t feel at all like you’re watching paint dry!