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  #1  
Old 09-20-2022, 03:09 PM
smitty9 smitty9 is offline
 
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Default Cow Lake; a fishing report and a fascinating case study

Cow Lake.

In it's "heyday" (late 70's or 80's depending when you fished it), it produced trout upwards of 15 pounds. Rick (or Roger?) Crozier even had a tiger beetle pattern for that lake.

Fished it this past Saturday; I am mildly impressed. Rainbows averaged 3.5 pounds, not one under 3. A few pike.

Which fascinates me, because I don't remember in the 40 years of fishing this province where F&W or AEP or the ACA or any whatever organization embraced the stocking of trout in a lake (slough) where there is a viable pike population.

Now trout and pike co-existing is not unheard of, of course. One only needs to look at Lake Diefenbaker in Sask to see that possibility of pike-trout co-existence to the nth degree (30 pound trout).

But not here in Alberta.

So I am curious as to why AEP chose to dump some browns and rainbows (hey, let's get some tigers in there too!!) in Cow. And we're not talking about a few hundred brood stock either; its close to 246,000 trout in 2021 and 2022 alone (combined).

AEP must think that total "bombardment flood" of trout - including some in bigger sizes - might be enough for them to establish a foothold, and so pike won't eat /get them all. Maybe; it's one of Alberta's bigger stocked trout lakes, but it ain't no Diefenbaker!

From my perspective, it marks quite a significant change in fish stocking philosophy of AEP. Of course, this could be a one off experiment.
-----------------------------------------
Anyways, fishing wasn't that 'fast'. 8 fish hooked, 3 to the boat. Small spoons and rapalas caught the rainbows. I caught the pike on a fly setup (the "Lauder" rig, lol).

Have no idea as to the status of the brown trout or perch. I do know, that do to frequent winterkills, at one time Cow only had minnows. Then trout, then pike and perch, now both.

We'll see; this will be interesting!

I'd go while the getting is good. Shore anglers on Saturday - close to 30 of them - are taking their 5 trout a day limit (though most only caught a handful, but given the chance...).
Don't know why...buddy said the trout tasted like mud....

Smitty
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  #2  
Old 09-20-2022, 06:44 PM
goldscud goldscud is offline
 
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Did you see any trout eating at the surface?
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  #3  
Old 09-20-2022, 07:48 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Cow Lake is a trout landfill. They got put the hatchery overages somewhere. Seems like a success. Lots of people using the lake. Far different than it was just a perch/pike fishery.
Maybe do the same stocking in Buck or Wab.
I was there Monday and landed 17 pike from 3>6 lbs and 3 rainbows from 3>5 lbs. All were landed on a CDN Brown mohair leech presented on a sink tip.
It was a decent day.
PS: the bug life has profoundly changed after perch invaded. Dragon flies/caddies are about gone. Saw one rise Monday.
Did see how fast 8 trout can go with a pike on its butt, WOW!


Don
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  #4  
Old 09-21-2022, 06:41 PM
Xplorer Xplorer is offline
 
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Hey guys,

Never fished cow lake, best place to launch a boat? Are gas engines allowed?

I have a small zodiac, does it get rough/windy a lot?

Thank you
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  #5  
Old 09-21-2022, 09:21 PM
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Bushrat Bushrat is offline
 
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246,000 in 2 years? They're just feeding pike. The few trout that manage to get big enough the pike don't bother with them anymore because they got 10's of thousands of easier to catch hatchery trout dumped in every year.
Should be some nice fat pike in and some big cannibal rainbows.

Can trout spawn in there?
How big were the trout they dumped in there?
Seems like a lot of fish for not that big of a lake.
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2022, 09:25 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xplorer View Post
Hey guys,

Never fished cow lake, best place to launch a boat? Are gas engines allowed?

I have a small zodiac, does it get rough/windy a lot?

Thank you
Launching from the north end is free. From campground $20.
Winds from the SW or SE can make the lake rough.
Gas engines allowed. Some show up with 300hp.
Water skiers in summer.
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2022, 09:31 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushrat View Post
246,000 in 2 years? They're just feeding pike. The few trout that manage to get big enough the pike don't bother with them anymore because they got 10's of thousands of easier to catch hatchery trout dumped in every year.
Should be some nice fat pike in and some big cannibal rainbows.

Can trout spawn in there?
How big were the trout they dumped in there?
Seems like a lot of fish for not that big of a lake.
Typical stock rate is 250/acre. Lake is 2243 acre or 550,000 fish
Growth rate of pike and trout will be profoundly effected by perch.
Both perch and pike winterkilled bad a few years ago. Food resources rebounded. Rainbows grew. Saw thousands of small perch the other day.
Trout cannot spawn in the lake.
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  #8  
Old 09-22-2022, 06:54 AM
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Bushrat Bushrat is offline
 
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Thanks Don.
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  #9  
Old 09-22-2022, 05:01 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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What must be remembered, the trout stocked into Cow Lake provided trout fishing that wouldnt have existed although the trout were available but stocked elsewhere where they all died quite quickly.
If Cow survives several winters, we may have 8 lb. Trout in the Rocky area which hasnt existed since 2005.
After pike fishing there for several years and seeing very few other fishermen, its great to see folks utilizing the lake.
But what should never be forgotten, the jerk that stocked perch killed what was an exceptional trout fishery.
Cow Lake May had provided several million of tourist dollars to the Rocky area.

Don
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  #10  
Old 09-22-2022, 05:19 PM
45-70GOV 45-70GOV is offline
 
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My wife and kids and I have had a lot of fun fishing there this year. Too bad there is little interest in aeration around here. Not much depth so I can see how its pretty easy to winter kill lakes like this one. When I lived in central BC we had plenty of smaller fisheries aerated to protect them
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  #11  
Old 09-22-2022, 05:50 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45-70GOV View Post
My wife and kids and I have had a lot of fun fishing there this year. Too bad there is little interest in aeration around here. Not much depth so I can see how its pretty easy to winter kill lakes like this one. When I lived in central BC we had plenty of smaller fisheries aerated to protect them
Cow Lake would require a over 15 aeration units or a complete change utilizing the systems Manitoba uses. But, frankly, why bother. Its now a perch/pike fishery with a icing of trout when available.

There is quite a number of lakes aerated in the area. These include Mitchell, Birch, Ironside, Fiesta, Beaver, Hansons Pond which are aerated by the ACA. Not sure who is aerating Alford Lake presently.
While there are several others that could be aerated it takes those interested to put the project together. Ironside was done by myself and Warren T. The process took two years involving fund raising, presentations, management of construction, construction and on and on. Several of hundreds of hours of volunteer efforts and a $50,000 cost. Once the facility was constructed and fine tuned the project was taken over by the ACA.
As a preamble to the Ironside Project, Warren and IDed a number of lakes that could be done. That took both a winter and summer component.

Don
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  #12  
Old 09-22-2022, 06:32 PM
Xplorer Xplorer is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Andersen View Post
Launching from the north end is free. From campground $20.
Winds from the SW or SE can make the lake rough.
Gas engines allowed. Some show up with 300hp.
Water skiers in summer.
Thank you Don!
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  #13  
Old 09-22-2022, 06:40 PM
Xplorer Xplorer is offline
 
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Hey guys,

Another question, is cow lake really only 6 to 7 feet deep? Seems pretty shallow
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  #14  
Old 09-22-2022, 07:17 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xplorer View Post
Hey guys,

Another question, is cow lake really only 6 to 7 feet deep? Seems pretty shallow
It is shallow. Good thing, bad thing?
A good thing where sunlight gets to the vegetation in mid-February which produces oxygen thereby assisting in fish survival.
A good thing as no part of the lake doesnt produce food as all of it is subjected by sunlight,
A good thing as when vehicles fall through the ice, recovery is easier.
A good thing where wind stirs the lake completely keeping O2 levels high in the summer.
A good thing from a fish catching perspective as the bait, lure or fly is only 7 feet away whereas 20 lakes, the distance is much higher.
A bad thing ?

Don
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  #15  
Old 09-22-2022, 07:21 PM
tallieho tallieho is offline
 
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Bad thing is that there's no boating speed restriction,or powered motor .Sea-doos & 300hp boats have no place being . IMO
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  #16  
Old 09-24-2022, 08:18 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallieho View Post
Bad thing is that there's no boating speed restriction,or powered motor .Sea-doos & 300hp boats have no place being . IMO
Talkie,
Ive never encountered a safety issue with the large boats. They generally give me well over 200 yards. Their 5000 watts of lousy music however tends to ruin the day.

Don
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  #17  
Old 09-28-2022, 06:19 PM
Xplorer Xplorer is offline
 
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Hey Guys,

I fished cow last evening for a couple of hours. Water clarity was pretty low, about a foot. Not sure if that is normal for this lake?

Hooked a nice fish on a leech pattern, lost it at the boat.

Thanks for the tips, hopefully I will get back before it freezes.
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  #18  
Old 10-02-2022, 04:27 AM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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The score for September 7+17+4= 28 pike, 1+3+7 = 11 rainbows.
And interesting fishery as most of the fish were caught on the same fly.

Don
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  #19  
Old 10-02-2022, 09:25 AM
tallieho tallieho is offline
 
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Kinda makes me wonder if that's all the fish have to eat.Years ago it was a shrimp lake.Perch eat all of them,minnows to i guess.
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  #20  
Old 10-03-2022, 11:12 PM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallieho View Post
Kinda makes me wonder if that's all the fish have to eat.Years ago it was a shrimp lake.Perch eat all of them,minnows to i guess.
All Im pumping is scuds. One chironomid in 1/2 dozen samples nothing else but scuds.
Years ago it was dragon fly nymphs and sticklebacks.

Don
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  #21  
Old 10-11-2022, 11:31 AM
smitty9 smitty9 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldscud View Post
Did you see any trout eating at the surface?
Yes. Occasionally.

Quote:
246,000 in 2 years? They're just feeding pike. The few trout that manage to get big enough the pike don't bother with them anymore because they got 10's of thousands of easier to catch hatchery trout dumped in every year.
Should be some nice fat pike in and some big cannibal rainbows.

Can trout spawn in there?
How big were the trout they dumped in there?
Seems like a lot of fish for not that big of a lake.
That's the interesting part; are they just feeding the pike? Time will tell. Every lake has it's own predator-prey dynamics, it would be interesting to see stomach samples of pike from that lake. As for your other questions:
* no, of course trout cannot spawn; it's a glorified slough
* check the stocking lists; sizes varied
* Relatively speaking - for an Alberta put and take stocked trout lake - it is one of the biggest lakes in the province. Again, I am speaking relatively, when compared to other waterbodies that trout are stocked in.

Quote:
A bad thing ?

Don
It's bad thing that it is so susceptible to winterkill. That, of course, has its own pros and cons.

Ideally, you'd have a lake that would totally winterkill, zero pike, zero perch, restock with trout, spend the $$$$ to aerate. But mother nature and our bucket bios have other ideas...

Quote:
Water clarity was pretty low, about a foot. Not sure if that is normal for this lake?
Don would know much better than me, as I have only fished it once. But yes, it's a slough, so the water clarity would be minimal.
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  #22  
Old 10-11-2022, 12:20 PM
Pioneer2 Pioneer2 is offline
 
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Default Do the pike

Still have tumours on their bodies?
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  #23  
Old 11-22-2022, 07:29 AM
Don Andersen Don Andersen is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Pioneer2 View Post
Still have tumours on their bodies?
Of the 30+ pike caught this summer, none seem infected.
Mind you, several years ago I was catching several hundred pike and only got one infected.

Don
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