Fishing adventures on Cold Lake #TakeItToTheLake
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Kinosoo legend, secret beaches and gorgeous sunsets define northern Alberta lake
KAREN UNG for #TakeItToTheLake
COLD LAKE, AB - Brian Hamilton, our captain, tells the tale of the Kinosoo, or “big fish” for which Cold Lake is named. Legend has it that a giant fish bit a Dene warrior’s canoe in two as he paddled across French Bay to see his beloved. The warrior was never seen again, but fragments of his canoe washed ashore covered in giant teethmarks. Many years later, the myth was reignited when whale-sized vertebrae were found in the sand at Birch Point (Source). To this day, some fishermen believe Kinosoo are still out there!
Tracy Wasylow dubs it, “Cold Lake’s Loch Ness Monster” and I wonder how long it will be before film crews come searching for it. Brian points out French Bay to us and says we can camp there - if we dare.
The only supernatural sight this evening is the scenery. Golden light illuminates the shoreline as diving birds dip in and out of the waves. Brian reveals “there are 15 nice beaches on the lake with five different colours of sand, and only five [are] accessible by car.” Secluded, boat-in only beaches? Yes, please! Garnet Beach’s purple sand beckons.
At a secret spot, on the east end of the lake, Brian puts large spoons and flashers on our lines and sends them deep into the crystal-clear water with the help of downriggers. The setup is similar to what I’ve used for salmon on the West Coast. We troll for lake trout at two miles per hour, the speed of cisco, and watch our lines for bites.
Five-year-old Patryk is excited to be on his first fishing trip and grips his rod tightly. Although big blobs on the fish finder indicate large fish, they don’t seem to be feeding. A thunderstorm earlier in the evening has killed the bite (a common phenomenon after a low-pressure system moves through). It’s too bad as the lake holds some lunkers.
Brian, co-owner of Hamilton House B&B and Fishing Charters, has fished here for over 40 years and seen many 20-pound lake trout. On his weekly fishing show on the radio, he gives tips on how to catch them.
Brian brings Cold Lake’s history and geography to life through stories accumulated over many years living here. We learn of Cold Lake’s rich fur-trading history, who some of the early settlers were, and how the city has changed in recent years. It’s fascinating and I can tell he loves living here.
As the sun melts on the horizon, we pull in our lines and follow the coastline looking for wildlife. Deer come down to the water for a drink and pelicans settle in on the rocks near French Bay, keeping a watchful eye for Kinosoo. It’s a gorgeous sunset and there’s no better place to see it than from the water.
When our cruise ends at dusk, we say farewell to Brian and his Bayliner boat and promise to visit him and Debbie at Cherry Grove the next time we’re in Cold Lake.
Know Before You Go
A valid Alberta fishing license is required to go fishing in Alberta.