You might recall from our first adventure to Lower Kananaskis Lake we described a certain “duality” to the place. Despite our hopes and optimism, we were to experience the harder side of the lake this time.
There was uncertainty in the air as we drove the truck into Kananaskis Country at least a half an hour ahead of the sun. Could we get through the snow to the spot we wanted to explore and did the ice hold up to the snow melt from the above zero temperatures and sun during the day?
We arrived at the Lower Kananaskis Lake boat launch and geared up in the low light of morning. A quick check confirmed that the snow was a thigh deep powder with a 4″ bottom of slush. With over a kilometre of lake length to cover we took advantage of the groomed snowshoe trail and made ‘good’ time considering the significant hills and bends along the scenic trail.
We pulled our gear off to side of the trail and took a moment to relax in the snow and develop a plan of attack. The snow and ice condition made every exploratory hole that was drilled a herculean task. We drilled hole after hole, zig zagging across the lake in a fruitless attempt to find the deep water as promised by the bathymetric mapping we had consulted.
Completely exhausted, we cut back to the snowshoe trail and took the long but easier way back to our first holes. The sleds were (eventually) emptied of all but the bare necessities and we slogged our way back onto the lake to the first holes drilled. It is not an exaggeration when we tell you that snow “islands” had to be painstakingly built up and shaped to provide some respite from standing in the deepening layer of slush that topped the black ice.
The TC Moto tube jig convinced a healthy Bull Trout to feed which lifted our spirits. Shortly after a strike on a chartreuse and white Storm Thunderblade was missed, another Bull Trout attacked a white and red tube jig with reckless abandon.
After a half hour of unrewarded jigging with lipless crank-baits. blade baits and spoons, a switch was made to a custom, white and purple tube jig that was inhaled on its first drop down the hole.
A few more average size Bull Trout were caught but not photographed because with each passing minute the travel paths between our holes became a canal of slush. The action on the electronics slowed as the morning turned to afternoon which prompted the decision to retreat to the truck and start to rest our fatigued bodies and warm at least one pair of frozen wet feet.
What did we learn this time … pack light and invest in quality sets of snowshoes and poles, religiously fish every hole you drill and don’t fully trust any bathymetry that you don’t collect yourself.