Our Man In Canada
July 15th, 2002

Walter Is In My Backyard

Ed and his Walter

By Mike Monteith

Ed's email made me envious. Along with his e-mail, Ed sent me a photo of him and his lunker. It was a 19-inch Rainbow with a belly that would make Buddha proud. Ed caught himself a "Walter."

Have you ever seen the movie On Golden Pond? Remember the Grandfather who was always after that fat Rainbow but the big lunker always seemed to elude the old man? The trout was affectionately named Walter. Here in Alberta, I'll wager there are more Walters closer to home then you ever imagined.

At first, Ed would only tell me that he had landed three monster fish. Of course my interest grew quickly but I was sure it was some far away lake with very little fishing pressure that took him hours to drive to. With a little persuasion and a few more e-mails, Ed finally caved and gave up his carefully guarded secret. "I know you practice catch and release so I'll share a bit of information with you, but please don't tell anyone." Not only did Ed tell me where the lake was, he gave me detailed information about how to fish the lake and where to find the lunkers. "It seems there are one or two holes in this lake where a few large rainbows hang out. I have had a few days where all I did was battle with fish between 18 and 24 inches, 10 of them in one afternoon." And here's the kicker, unlike I originally thought, this lake of Walters' was real close to home.

I started fishing pothole lakes around Edmonton when I was 10 years old. The biggest Rainbow trout I ever saw, was caught back in the early 80's in a pothole lake, only 30 minutes from my doorstep. Until recently, I thought of this catch as a fluke, but Ive since learned that larger fish can be found close to home. There are great fisheries within a half-hour of almost every major city or town in Alberta. If you live in Calgary, you can find Walter in the Bow River. Red Deer anglers can catch lunkers in the Red Deer River. In Edmonton, the North Saskatchewan River, and numerous nearby lakes, have their share of fine fly-fishing and large fish.

One morning while fly-fishing from my float tube at a local lake, I tied on a black Doc Spratley while kicking my way to "Lunker Island." I trolled it slowly as I made my way over, thinking of what fly to change to once I got there. When I arrived at my destination, I decided against changing flies in hopes that my favorite would do me justice once again. As usual I kept my tube about 40 feet from the shore using three casts, one short cast at 15 feet, then a longer one at 25 feet and my last cast at 35 feet. I continued with this routine and worked the entire shoreline five feet at a time, letting the fly sink to about the count of eight. I then retrieved the fly using quick short strips, knowing the fly would rise to the surface looking to the fish like an emerging nymph. I had almost fished the entire shoreline of the island and was just about to change flies, when my reel made that sweet music only a fly-angler can appreciate. That morning I landed a three pounder, six pounder, five and a half pounder and a five pounder, and was sitting at my kitchen table enjoying a nice bowl of pasta by noon. Yah, I've heard of guys catching lunkers in the local lakes but I always thought they were few and far between. Now, because of a little hard work and some research, I know of at least four local trout lakes, not to mention some local Pike and Walleye lakes, were Walter has made his home.

Every spring, anglers eagerly look forward to catching big fish. Many of us believe that we have to travel hundreds of miles away from civilization to find big fish. I used to plan family vacations to faraway lakes or rivers where the big fish were and if I was lucky, I caught the occasional big trout. I always had a great time, but the kids missed the beach or playground and my non-fishing wife didn't consider these to be any kind of real vacations. But now our summer holidays are different. Since I learned that Walter is right in my own backyard, our family vacations are now for the entire family. I can chase Walter anytime, and my family has all of the amenities they want in a vacation spot.

So how do you find Walter? Research. By speaking with other anglers, buying maps, talking to staff at your local fly shop and of course the Internet. The World Wide Web has some great resources for fishing, including; web pages, message boards, fishing reports, stocking reports and more. With this wealth of information you'll find lakes or rivers close to home where Walter is cruising around waiting for you to pay him a visit. Sure it's nice to get away and back to nature in the remote wilderness, but you don't have to go much farther than your own backyard to find Walter. ~ Mike Monteith

About Mike:

Mike Monteith owns and operates a web site called Fly-Fishing Edmonton. His site is specific to information regarding popular trout lakes in the surrounding areas of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Also known as Doc, he is also a moderator for the Fishin' Alberta Message Board, an informative website were you can post questions and answers about fishing in Alberta.

Copyright 2001-2002 Mike Monteith All Rights Reserved

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