Sunday, 05 June 2016 09:09

Ironside: Small pond, big fish!

Written by Michael Short
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Biologist Kevin Gardner Biologist Kevin Gardner Photo by Michael Short

When it comes to still water fishing, I admit I’m a little intimidated. I have spent most of my fly fishing days on streams and rivers, where I have become accustomed to reading the water and at least giving myself a chance at hooking a fish if I can place my fly in the right spot.

Not so with still water. At first glance there are no clues, at least from the surface, on where to start casting. The flat surface just stares back at you like a blank page. There is no reading the water here. Or so I thought.

Biologists Kevin Gardner and Corey Rasmussen of the Alberta Conservation Association – both accomplished fly fishers – asked me to join them for a few hours of fishing on a local pond.

Determined to at least not embarrass myself with these two, I did some preparation. I hoped that by looking through my library of fly fishing books, some written by the likes of Brian Chan, and by reviewing my Phil Rowley collection of still-water fishing videos I could absorb some much needed information on how to approach these small ponds.

Turns out, I didn’t need to put that much time and effort into the research.

Ironside pond is located just outside of Rocky Mountain House near some other better-known spots such as Mitchell and Cow Lake.  On the day we visited, it was late afternoon. By the time we got geared-up fish started to rise all over the place … there was no need to read the water, just start casting! It wasn’t long before we were all into some fish.

During a break in the action I chatted with Kevin Gardner (Corey appeared to be sleeping in his belly-boat) about the approach the ACA has taken with stocking this pond.

Kevin Gardiner with the Alberta Conservation Association talks about the benefits of having a small fishery like the one at Ironside Pond (located near Rocky Mountain House), stocked by Alberta Environment and Parks.

You will find little argument with the statement that our province has a lot of bug activity, and while us humans might get annoyed with the constant buzzing and biting, these abundant insects — both terrestrial and aquatic — help grow some very large fish.

Despite the limited number of fishable lakes in Alberta, there are still a few hidden gems to be found. I think Ironside pond is in contention to be one of them.

Ironside is one of many lakes stocked by Alberta Environment and Parks, providing a number of fishing opportunities.

When you go, there are a few other facts to keep in mind when fishing this pond. No bait is allowed, catch and release only (0 limit) – because of the low stocking rate there is a greater opportunity fewer fish will mean the potential of larger fish down the road. There is also no ice fishing allowed during the winter months.

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