In this next part of the trip, we travel through the mountains from Edmonton and out to Vancouver, then down to Yellowstone, before heading home through the US. Since we left off, the next interesting things we saw were a bunch of Bison at Elk Island National Park. We were worried we wouldn’t see any but as the sun started going down they came out, and nothing scares these guys! They were even walking down the main road.
It having been a few days since we caught our last standard-sized fish, I was getting pretty antsy to do some fishing. Luckily, the next 2 days were all fishing :) I convinced Alex to agree on a “small” detour up Grande Prairie and then back down to Jasper so I could have a shot at a few northern species. Finding info for this area proved very difficult so I decided to just go for it and stop at any nice rivers we saw.
The first stop didn’t really pay off. I did catch a decent pike but that was pretty disappointing considering I expected it to be a big Bull Trout. The second stop didn’t seem to be much better, water was high and we weren’t getting any hits. I had given up and was wading back to the car, while “trolling” my lure behind me… of course this is when the fish hit. My lifer Arctic Grayling! Just a small one but a major bucket list species for me :) There aren’t too many fish I care for catching a second time but this is definitely one of them.
After the Grayling, the fishing continued to be difficult, as expected. This was early June and the rivers were still experiencing runoff from the wintermelt. Didn’t catch anything for the rest of that day or for the first half of the next day. Finally, on the last open river of the detour, I found a nice pool with a bunch of Rocky Mountain Whitefish. Another salmonid in the books :)
Next we were back to a few days without fishing and instead did the tourist thing and hiked around Jasper and Banff. I’ll spare you the details but basically it’s a spectacular region and here are some photos to prove it, send me a message if you'd like any travel suggestions.
After the national parks, we headed to k-country, where I hoped to catch a Cutthroat Trout. Incredibly, I could not find a single one! These guys are supposed to be like the Brook Trout of the west XD Rainy weather and bad stream fishing led to us trying a lake out of desperation, good thing we did because I caught a big Bull Trout!! Totally unexpected, I knew the lake had them but never thought I’d get one in shallow water from shore. What a crazy fight, like lakers on steroids.
We also started seeing Grizzlies at this point. They kept to themselves but seeing them was a good warning that we weren’t the biggest predators around anymore.
In the interest of brevity, let’s say we headed to the Kootenay region of BC next. On the way, I fished one river where I caught a fish that was way cooler than I realized at the time: the Mountain Sucker. Wish there was a cooler story to tell about how I poured through documents for hours or something… but nope. Alex visited a wolfdog sanctuary and got some very cool pictures as well.
Quick teleport and we were in the Kootenays. A friend I made online had graciously agreed to meet up with us and guide us around his home waters back in the mountains. I was amazed at his generosity, he essentially spent all day bringing us to all his best spots, the kind of places you could never find online. Unfortunately, the runoff came back to bite us and the fishing wasn’t spectacular, but I did catch another Bull Trout! This one was especially cool because it was caught on the fly in a small river way back in the bush: a place I’d never expect to catch something bigger than a pound or two.
Hop, skip, and a jump later and we had driven through the rest of the mountains and out to Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley. One last Canadian fishing stop was at a relatively small lake to try for landlocked Sockeye Salmon (Kokanee). To our dismay, all of the boats were already rented out and so we were out of options. Luckily, another friend I had made online said he was on the lake that day and offered to bring us out on his boat! People are amazing. Needless to say, he really knew his stuff and it didn’t take long for both of us to have our lifers.
We then drove out to Vancouver just to say that we had reached the Pacific. Mandatory ocean photo and we were on our way down to Yellowstone.
We had high expectations for Yellowstone seeing as its one of the most popular U.S. national parks. To our dismay, it was quite disappointing :( Sure, it was cool to see the geysers and hot springs, but it’s nothing compared to the grandeur of the Rockies and it seemed poorly managed compared to Banff. Brief failure with some Cutthroat Trout and we agreed to be on our way ASAP.
This is getting long so let’s just say it was almost a straight shot from there to home. One last memorable stop was at the Garrison Dam in North Dakota where member Paul Schumann had been posting pictures of mystical Blue Suckers, Shovelnose Sturgeon, Buffalo, and more. Just about anything here would be a lifer for us since we’ve never been in the central U.S. Indeed, it didn’t take long for us both to get into some Bigmouth Buffalo. Alex caught her biggest fish ever and we both enjoyed some epic battles in the current. We also caught some good Pike :) Oh yeah, and we visited the hatchery and got to see/hold some Paddlefish, Shovelnose, and Pallid Sturgeon.
And that’s about it for our big trip. Incredible adventure and we’re super excited for the next one. Only one province and three territories left to go, and I’m sure it won’t be long before I need to make my way to Yellowknife!
Here's a couple extra wildlife shots, couldn't think of the right place to fit them in the report.