Taking The Rapala’s To Brown Town
With the weather unseasonably warm and the water gin clear, I decided it was time to shake the winter cob webs off the Saturn watercraft and take her for the first float trip of the year. I spent two previous days in Banff taking pictures and unwinding from the concrete jungle. It was a much needed getaway from the city noise! I woke up early and checked out from the Tunnel Mountain Resort before ten o’clock in the morning, I wanted to make it back to Calgary before noon and launch the boat by one o’clock at the latest. Before I left the hotel I called my friend Steve to see if he wanted to accommodate me on the trip. Steve is the Rapala Representative for most of Canada, his territory covers from Alberta all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Steve picked up the phone after the fifth ring and was totally down to hit the river and hook into some early spring trout. I headed East back in the city and loaded up the gear from my house, then over to my mom’s place to pick up the boat. Normally I make the lunches for all trips but I was running a little late and had to settle for Tim Horton’s. We launched out at Policeman’s Flats at 1:00 and made the slow trip down to McKinnon Flats where I was told the boat launch was open for take out’s and put in’s. Steve asked me what lure he should tie up first, and I suggested the BX Minnow would be a good start. I opted to go with a Countdown for my first lure. These lures work well in deeper pools and holes, but will often get hung up on the bottom if you don’t hold your rod tip up high in the air. When the water levels are low, it is wise to have two rods rigged up for your day’s adventure! I usually go with a lure that will dive into deeper holes, and another rod rigged up with a lure that runs shallow, like an original floater or the new Shadow Rap Shad, which will dive to around 5 feet, but also rises to the top when you stop the lure on your retrieve.
We pushed off and proceeded to fire our lures into the south bank. It was slow going for the first hour and then Steve finally latched into a 16 inch brown trout that we got to the boat. We could not net the fish before he got away and slipped back into the river. I never like that feeling myself, especially on the first fish. After many casts, from both Steve and I, it was pretty apparent that most of the rainbows that are local residents have gone up the Highwood River and its tributaries for the annual spring spawn. That leaves an excellent opportunity for the local brown trout population to gorge down on the massive hatch of bugs that were coming off the river. It also leaves the angler a perfect opportunity to land a trophy fish on a minnow imitation just like the one’s Steve and I had tied up at the start of the day.
By now we were two hours into the trip and Steve decided he was gonna chuck a rainbow Countdown on and see what that would produce. I felt that this color pattern would be perfect as the river was ripe for a brown to chow down on a rainbow minnow. I feel the rainbow Trout Rapala is the best running Countdown of them all. For some reason they run with a tighter wobble and look more natural than all the other countdowns on the market in my opinion. The next fish was mine which came off a corner chute. They like to sit in the slack water behind the chute and wait for food to come through, and then they pounce like a cat on a mouse. I like to let the lure drift after I bring it through the slack water, making it tumble in the current and presenting it as naturally as possible. To the fish, it looks like a wounded or dead minnow floating down with the current. Most often they will hammer it up without you putting any action on the lure manually! I could tell the fish I hooked was another brown by the way it was doing the classic “death roll” as I often refer to it. Once I landed the fish in the net, I unwrapped the line from her face. She was sure a pretty specimen. I admired her for a few seconds, along with a quick picture before I gently put her back into the river to be caught again by another angler.
We made a stop for what was now dinner time. I chose to stop at a hole that I often pull into along the journey. We munched down on the Tim’s subs and sipped ginger ale before I picked up my rod again to make a few casts, barely letting my food sink down into my belly. I had a large fish follow me right into my feet but turned and scoffed at my lure before going back to its hiding place. We spent about 15 minutes casting here before moving along. Too bad we could not land a single fish in this location. We drifted another 35 minutes or so before I hooked into a slab brown, again off another drop ledge just before the location of where the Highwood meets the Bow River. This fish was a brute and jumped out of the water several times, leading me to believe it was my first float trip rainbow trout, but not so, it was another dandy brownie. It took a minute or so before this scrapper was ready to be netted and released. I got a few pics again before releasing this bruiser back into the aqua.
Steve managed to hook and land another rocky mountain whitefish as I rowed the boat and took in the scenic views of the surrounding landscape. All in all it was a great day to be back out floating the Lower Bow River. I was super glad I was able to enjoy the day out on the river with my good friend Steve and land some awesome specimens of Bow River life on the tried, tested and true Rapala lures. April will be a perfect time for you to land some great browns the Bow River has to offer, so let’s get out there and catch the fish of our dreams!