Ever since we fished the Bullshead Reservoir in our first spring in Alberta (which you can check out here if you missed it) we have been meaning to make a return trip. Known to be a great early season bet for good sized rainbow trout on the fly, we didn’t want to let too much of the spring go by, so we packed up the truck with gear and we were headed east early on a Sunday morning. Really early even by “fishing” morning standard. The roughly 3 hour journey passed quickly and soon we were dodging rogue prairie dogs on the final leg of the journey. When we say “dodging” we mean continue driving with no change in operation as experience quickly proved that if you tried in anyway to avoid striking a prairie dog, it would immediately throw itself under the truck wheels like a kamikaze.
The parking area at the Bullshead Reservoir was quite full considering the time of day and anglers could already be seen spaced out along the shorelines and off into the distance in boats. Hordes of prairie dogs scampered around the parking area as even more anglers eager to enjoy a warm sunny day fishing continued to arrive. We made the last adjustments to our gear and walked down one of the many winding paths to the water. We surveyed the unoccupied shoreline and considered the “variables” including the ever-influential wind strength, and direction. We settled on the plan and started off to the chosen spot. Suspicious that every person arriving into the parking lot was going to go for the same piece of shore AND the couple fishing close to “our” spot would realize how awesome it was and take it AND the four boats within a nautical mile would swoop in before we could get there …. one of us was off, racing down the path as quickly as possible all the while trying not to attract the attention of other anglers … which of course would result in the “giving away” of the chosen spot. This intention to be casual (read ninja-like) visually translated into a comical hobble interrupted by short bursts of speed. Those of you who have ever joined us for a fishing adventure will instantly know which one of us exhibits these paranoid delusions. The important thing to remember here is that we got the spot.
You would almost think we knew what we were doing when we set up along this section of shoreline. The wind was pushing small waves almost perfectly parallel to the shore which created the perfect chance to present our suspended flies right down the shore and into the waiting mouths of trout. The fly choice was the Candy Corn which was a balanced fly pattern created during a fall trip to the Parklands in Manitoba. Hanging 4′ to 5′ below a quick release indicator the Candy Corn undulated with the waves as it drifted just over the lake bottom. The first fish was caught after only the third drift and loads more were caught steadily throughout the day. Initially the takes were quite aggressive but as the day progressed and particularly when the wind dropped, the takes became more tentative. A quick trimming of the rabbit strip tail was enough to successfully hook some of the most wary fish.
We successfully flogged the water solely with the Candy Corn for hours. As late afternoon approached we realized we only had two more of them left. Shortly after this realization, poor line management and lack of composure resulted in the loss of one of them when a big rainbow took a quick run and wrapped the unchecked line around the handle resulting in that tippet breaking crack. After that we “shared” the last Candy Corn loaded rod alternating every 3 casts or fish, whichever came first. We joked and laughed as we kept catching rainbow trout this way for another half an hour before we started back to the truck and the long drive home.
Arriving back at the truck it was decided that we would set up the camera to spy into the life of a prairie dog. In true Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom fashion “Jim” carefully positioned the camera while “Marlin” provided the riveting commentary. With the video below, allow us to take you to the great plains of south east Alberta and observe the elusive and cagey prairie dog in their natural habitat!
Without question this was a fantastic day out enjoying what Alberta has to offer.