ALLAN BILL POND
It's Back! In May 2009 the government repaired the damn that broke during a flood in 2005. Now the pond is stocked with fish and will again be one of the most popular destinations in Kananskis. There are two other fishing holes in the Elbow Valley; McLean Creek Pond and Champion Lakes (located a short hike off the McLean Creek Road to Sandy McNabb).
It had been raining for days, the sky was a dull grey. It was Canada Day. We really wanted to get out but the prospects didn't look good. We loaded up the canoe and the fishing gear anyway. We were off to K-Country. To Allan Bill Pond, about 15 kilometres down highway 66. The pond is about the size of two football fields. It was created in 1983 when gravel dug out of the riverbank was used in paving the road. I'm sure Allan Bill, the managing editor of The Calgary Herald until he retired in 1957, would have approved of our resolve. He was and avid outdoorsman, writing a regular column on the subject and supporting the Calgary Fish and Game Association.
There were about 30 to 50 people fishing for the 3,000 fish fry introduced in early June. Most were casting from shore. A few skilled fishers cast confidently. A few novices arrived with rods still in the store packaging. Several guys wore hip-waders, floating around in air-filled tubes propelled with swimming fins on their feet. Others just waded in up to their bums.
The menu offered to the fish included cheese, bacon and scented bait paste. We brought along a couple of scrawny worms. They didn't look like much to me, but a fish couldn't resist and wound up on the wrong end of the hook. We had been floating around for over an hour with "Bobby" surrounded by the concentric circles where fish pecked at the bugs on the surface of the water. Finally, the fish bob plunged and popped back to the surface sending out its own rippling wave. A splash and flash of silvery scales confirmed the connection between fish, bob and shocked little girl. "Reel it in!"
As the fish thrashed and writhed into the air the shock became fear and revulsion. This didn't look anything like that frozen slab of white fish in the grocery store. It moved, and it was slimy with red gills pulsing. Free of the hook, the decision was - dinner or back to the drink. With a little encouragement we turned that slimy creature into the prospect of savoury meal. Despite the squeamish behaviour the girls were now hooked on the pastime. We'll go again - if it ever stops raining.
Our first stop on our way to Allan Bill Pond was the Moose Mountain General Store (Ph: 403-949-3147) in the Bragg Creek Village Market shopping centre. We got some gear and an Alberta Environmental Protection fishing license. This is a two-part process. First you must have a WIN (Wildlife Identification Number) card which costs $8 and is good for 5 years. Then you purchase an annual fishing permit for $18. If you are an Albertan between 16 and 64 you need a license to fish in Alberta. Other Canadians and visitors from abroad, over 16 need a license too. There are a lot of regulations for fishing rivers and lakes. They are detailed in a guide you get with your license. It gets pretty complicated, but the main concern is what type of bait you can use and how many fish you can catch.
Different rules apply to streams and ponds. You can't use live bait fish anywhere. Dead bait and scented bait are restricted in rivers. You can't snag, snare or stun a fish and only one line per person please. No lights or guns can be used. If you catch a fish and keep it, you can't trade it in on a bigger one later. You can't keep them as pets and you have to eat it - no spoilage. That shouldn't be hard, although cleaning and gutting fish can be unpleasant for youngsters who do their hunting and gathering in the supermarket.
The number of fish you can keep per day or fishing trip is limited to:
Trout and Arctic Grayling - 5 in total,
- 0 bull trout (Dolly Varden)
- 1 golden trout;
- 2 or less Arctic grayling;
- 3 or less lake trout;
- 5 or less cutthroat trout;
- 5 or less rainbow trout;
- 5 or less brown trout;
- 5 or less brook trout.
Mountain Whitefish - 5 in total
Walleye and Sauger - 3 in combined total
Northern Pike - 3 in total
Yellow Perch - 15 in total
Lake Whitefish and Cisco - 10 in combined total
Goldeye and Mooneye - 10 in combined total
Burbot - 10 in total
Lake Sturgeon - 1 per year (need a special license)
Non-game fish - no limit
The Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Grande Prairie to the U.S. border is Wildlife Management Zone 1. From just north of Cochrane to the border is Watershed Unit One of the zone. It includes the Oldman River and Bow River watersheds. The Elbow Valley is part of this zone. For information on fishing in the Elbow Valley, phone the local office at 403-949-3749 between 8:15 AM and Noon. You can fish most of the ponds, lakes and reservoirs year round, but you must check the guidebook for specific regulations. The above rules apply to Allan Bill, Mclean and Forget-me-not Ponds, the Spray Lakes and Barrier Reservoir. Some special rules apply to the Kananaskis Lakes.
Many of the streams in the area have special regulations, for example: The Elbow River.
From its headwaters downstream to Elbow Falls
- June 16 to Aug. 31
Cutthroat and Rainbrow trout over 30 cm limit - 2 (bait ban)
- Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 - Trout limit - 0 (bait ban)
- Nov. 1 to June 15 - closed
From Elbow Falls downstream to Canyon Creek - closed From Canyon Creek downstream to Glenmore Reservoir
- June 16 to Oct. 31
Cutthroat and Rainbrow trout limit - 2 over 35 cm (bait ban)
Mountain Whitefish limit - 5 over 30 cm
Magots are the only bait allowed and then only between Aug. 16 to Oct. 31
Nov. 1 to June 15 - closed
This is only a rough guide as set out in the 1999 guidebook. Please check the current guide for details and for regulations on other rivers and streams lakes and ponds.