Fishin' statement, not a fashion statement. Jo Nadeau with his 7th brook trout of the day.
Parks Canada staff sends hordes of hikers to The Valley of the Five Lakes for good reason: The circuit offers a chance to trek around Jasper's montane forest without fear of getting lost; the views of the sapphire lakes don't disappoint; and the flowing, rolling single track makes ones forget about everything but chirping birds and where to set down for a picnic.
While hiking the Valley of the Five is fairly easy going, it gets a bit more awkward when you're hauling in a belly boat. But if you're an early-season angler, after the fishing season opens on the May long weekend, the Valley of the Five Lakes is a great place to wet a line.
My friend Jo and I humped our fishing crafts 5 kms or so into the Valley of the Five on opening weekend (May 18) this year, donned our waders, fins and other goofy fisherman gear and tried to catch ourselves a few of the gorgeous Eastern Brook Trout that were stocked in these parts decades ago. I'd had fun sight-fishing with a fat streamer at about the same time the year previous, and while I had some good bites right out of the gate this time around, I couldn't set the hook on any of the fish that were interested in my fly.
Jake Daly was just going to go birding. Then he saw us going in with our rods and had to make a few casts.
Jo, on the other hand, was hooked into a nice brookie within 20 minutes. He was slow-trolling a size 16 bead-headed nymph, meanwhile, some tourists in a rental boat were snagging tons of fish on some spinning gear. Not that I was going to resort to that. Our buddy Jake showed up with his rod, but with no boat, even his neat roll-casting couldn't get his fly out far enough. As Jake and I were wondering what it was going to take to produce some action, Jo started hollering from the other end of the lake, telling me to start kicking my way over there. I had been enjoying the sun and chatting with Jake while Jo—probably propelled by the fact his waders were leaking and he was getting cold—was zipping all over the water. He had obviously found the hotspot. By the time I arrived, of course, the bite had turned off. That's not quite true: I was biting my lip quite forcefully as Jo explained how he had just landed 5 nice brookies in a row. When I finally clued in and put on a fast-sinking nymph I got a few good hits, but twice my knot failed me and another time my tippet broke. I felt bad for leaving those piercings in the fishes' mouths; I felt like an idiot for letting my knot fail. All was not lost, however, as fishing, if nothing else, teaches you patience. While it was hard to stomach the 8-1 shellacking by my good buddy, I brought home a few lessons that I'll take with me next time I'm on the water.