Entries tagged with “ice-out”.


For the past couple weeks, we have been receiving numerous calls and emails daily from people seeking information regarding current conditions on the local trout lakes. It seems there’s a lot of anglers chomping at the bit. I’m one of them. It’s been an interesting spring, to say the least. You could probably sum up spring’s arrival in southern Alberta quite nicely this year with one word, “late.” By this time last year, all of the lakes around here were completely ice-free and lots of boats could be seen bobbing about on them. That’s not the case this year, though. The photo below was taken at Lee Lake yesterday morning. It shows about 20-30 feet of open water near the boat launch. I looked back at a blog post I made last year, where I had a similar photo of this lake. The main difference between these pictures is last year’s was taken March 22, a full six weeks earlier than the one I took yesterday. What a difference a year makes! 

May 4, 2011 - Lee Lake finally beginning to open

 Jim McLennan, of Longview, Alberta, stopped by the shop the other day and presented me with a copy of his first solo CD. Titled Six-String Gumbo, the recently released CD  features Jim playing acoustic guitar. Although Jim is perhaps best known in the fly-fishing world, where he is a respected angler, instructor and author, he has also been a serious musician for over forty years. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim a few times over the years and knew he was darn good at it. I knew his guitar pickin was something to hear, too, but until the other day I had never listened to his music. Can you believe that! We’ll, we’ve been playing his CD in the shop for a couple days now and we’re hooked! I’ve become an instant fan of his music. While Jim was in the shop, I mentioned I once played trumpet in the junior high school band. Now that Jim knows I can blow, maybe he’ll feature me on his next CD. I’m a little rusty, but I’m sure with a little practice I’ll be as good as before!

For more information on Jim’s new CD, click here.

Many of you know Nathan Bond, a former employee of our shop and fly-fishing guide extraordinaire. Some of you also know that Nathan is a talented musician, a pianist (classical), at that. In recent years, Nathan has also developed a passion for rock climbing and has even invited me to join him on an “easy climb” up, or an “easy repel” down the face of Goat (Bluff) Mountain, right here in Crowsnest Pass. However, he has yet to convince me that “I’m not too old” to do this sort of thing! I wasn’t too surprised then when about a year ago he came by the shop to say he was planning a trip to South America to climb Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. At 6,962 metres (22,841 feet), Aconcagua is commonly known as the “Roof of the Americas.” Conquering even the highest mountain in our “neck-of-the-woods” would pale in comparison.

Nathan set off on his epic adventure in January. He stopped in Santiago, Chile to visit friends, first, before continuing on to Argentina to prepare for the climb. I’m not sure of all the details, but after two attempts Nathan and his party reached the summit of Mount Aconcagua on February 10th!

Nathan, at the Summit of Mount Aconcugua
Nathan, at the Summit of Mount Aconcagua. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Upon completion of his expedition, Nathan returned to Chile, where he was looking forward to spending more time with friends and being able to participate in another one of his interests … surfing. He travelled to the beaches of Pichilemu, an area considered to have some of the world’s best waves.  It was here on February 27th that Nathan experienced firsthand the devastating earthquake ( 8.8 magnitude) that rocked Chile. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, causing Nathan and numerous others to flee to higher ground and safety. While Nathan was unscathed, it took some time before he was able to make contact with his family in Crowsnest Pass to let them know of his well-being. 

Structure damaged in earthquake. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
Structure damaged in earthquake. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Anyone who knows Nathan won’t be too surprised to learn that he chose to remain in Chile following the earthquake and volunteered with the Save The Wave’s Coalition Chilean Earthquake Relief Effort. That’s Nathan for you, always ready and willing to help … no matter what! For several weeks he worked with crews delivering water purification filters to residents of some of the surrounding communities. Congratulations Nathan on reaching the summit of Mount Aconcagua, and kudos to you for helping with relief efforts in Chile! That must have been some vacation!

For more information on the Save the Wave’s Coalition Earthquake Relief Effort that Nathan was involved with, check out the link in the above text. Residents of Medicine Hat, Alberta may want to watch for a special “Chilean Earthquake Fundraising Event” on April 10th. The fundraiser is being organized by Nathan’s sister, Simone.

Nathan left Chile several days ago and is now in Brazil, awaiting his trip home to Crowsnest Pass. Below are a few more photos from Chile, courtesy of Nathan’s parents, followed by a report on ice-out conditions on several of our local trout lakes. Spring appears to be inching forward!

More earthquake damage. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
More earthquake damage. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Roadside obstacle. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
Roadside obstacle. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Delivering water purification filters. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Delivering water purification filters. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Tsunami aftermath. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Tsunami aftermath. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 Ice-out  Report for Southern Alberta’s Trout Lakes

I went for a drive yesterday to check on a couple of the areas trout lakes. Some friends reported late last week that Lee Lake was beginning to open, and I thought I’d head over there to see how things had progressed over the weekend. There was about 30 feet of open water along shore near the boat launch and a bit more in the “Narrows.” Providing we don’t get a stretch of cold weather, Lee Lake might be completely ice-free within a week or so. Throw in a day or two of strong winds, though, and it might only take a few days to open up.

Lee Lake beginning to open. March 22/10.

Lee Lake beginning to open. March 22/10.

 I checked Beauvais Lake, too, but the ice here is only beginning to soften along shore. Lee is usually the first trout lake to become ice-free in southwest Alberta, followed by Dipping Vat, Beauvais, Payne (Mami), Police Outpost and Beaver Mines.

Beauvais Lake remains frozen. March 22/10.

Beauvais Lake remains frozen. March 22/10.

On our way home from a trip to Lethbridge on Sunday, my brother-in-law, Paul, and I made a quick detour past Lee Lake to check whether it was ice-free yet. We discovered that except for a couple of small bays, the lake was completely open, thanks to the hurricane-force winds that had been blowing in Crowsnest Pass most of the day. We returned to the lake yesterday morning at about 10:30 and fished until 4:00 pm. The wind wasn’t quite a bad as the day before and we were able to deal with it, without too much difficulty. The nice thing about Lee Lake is you can always find a spot that’s sheltered, regardless of how hard it’s blowing, or its direction.

Within minutes of arriving, we had launched the raft and we’re fishing. Paul hooked into the first fish on his second or third cast. Paul’s visiting from Winnipeg and although he’s more experienced fishing for walleye on his home waters using spinning gear, he’s really taken to fly-fishing for trout in recent years and can hold his own with a fly rod.

How was the fishing? Quite good … actually. We were into fish from the get-go and it was pretty much non-stop action the entire day. Lots of rainbows in the 10 to 12-inch range, and a surprising number of fish in the 14 to 16-inch class. The only fly we used all day were Bead-head Prince nymphs, and we fished them under a strike indicator. One of my flies became so torn apart by fish that the only material left on it was the bead and a bit of thread holding the white goose biot wings to the hook shank. The trout didn’t care, though, and they kept eating it anyway! We only saw two or three bank anglers and one other boat the whole time we were out. More Canada geese have arrived at the lake and we also saw a bald eagle, loons and quite a few mallards. Here’s a couple of photos of the day.

Paul landing a rainbow trout

Paul landing a rainbow trout

Flying fish?

Flying fish?

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve received quite a few calls and emails from people wondering about the ice on Lee Lake and whether or not it’s off yet. By this time last year it was completely ice-free and anglers were already enjoying some decent fishing. I checked on Friday (April 10th), but it was still frozen and there was no sign of it beginning to open, even along shore. While there, I noticed a bunch of Canada geese standing on the ice by the island, directly across from the boat launch. It was great to see they had returned to the lake from their winter retreat in the south. They were also squawking as noisily as ever. It seemed like they were waiting for the ice to come off, too, and some appeared to have already staked out the choice nesting sites on the tiny island.

What a difference three days can make! I drove to the lake this morning before heading to work, to check things out.  As I approached the highway turnoff, I noticed a vehicle in the Lee Lake parking lot. This could only mean one thing, right? My hunch was correct, there was open water and a couple of people were fishing from shore. As of this morning there’s about 30 to 40 feet of open water near the boat launch, more in other places. Barring a return visit by Old Man Winter, Lee Lake should be ice-free by the weekend. Other lakes in southwest Alberta, including Beauvais, Dipping Vat and Payne (Mami)  should start to open soon, if they haven’t already. Beaver Mines and Police Outpost lakes are situated at higher elevations and usually become ice-free a bit later than some of the others. It won’t be long now and there will be a lot of happy lake anglers, and Canada geese!

NEWS FLASH … I  fished the Crowsnest River yesterday. First time out this spring! Post and photos to follow. Below is a photo of Lee Lake this morning.

Lee Lake beginning to open

View of Lee Lake this morning from the boat launch