Welcome to Week XI of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert, In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access a boat a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish for a good summer fry.''
So you are heading to Regina and you know you can work in a couple of free hours to do something fun, well pack the fishing rod and tackle box, and when you hit Fort Qu'Appelle plan on doing a bit of shore fishing at Echo Lake.
You don't realize it when heading through the valley to Regina, but the town is nestled right along the eastern shore of Echo Lake, and while much of the lake is ringed with residential cabins, for obvious reasons, there are some fine shore options too.
The best area is arguably found by following Highway 210, accessed by winding through the town. Directions are pretty readily available at a gas station, easier than trying to recount the street turns here.
The drive along the Highway is a slow one, with a posted speed limit of only 40 kilometres an hour due to the residences sandwiched between the highway and lake.
It is along Highway 210 you will come to the Saskatchewan Fish Culture Station, more on that in a moment. Right across from the station is a parking lot where you can leave the car and walk down to more than a half mile of rocky shoreline for fishing.
We hit the spot on a hot July day just before noon. Sunny and hot summer days are not generally stellar fishing in my experience, and that proved the case again.
But the view is quite stunning, the valley wall across the lake, the cabins ringing the water, and boats speeding around.
In terms of fishing, it is a rocky bottom close in so you need to be aware on slow retrieves of spoon casts, but otherwise it's a great spot.
And another fisherman related how a 36-inch pike came out of the water for a shore catch the night before we were there. Of course that is often the case where you find you were a day late, or early to a really big catch.
Pike of course only one possible catch in a lake harbouring one of the most diverse species mixes in the province. As a sytem the Qu'Appelle River sports walleye, sauger, yellow perch, northern pike, lake whitefish, cisco, mooneye, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, bigmouth buffalo, common carp, channel catfish, black bullhead, brown bullhead, burbotand rock bass.
If you do hit the spot on Echo Lake on a slow day you can always pop into the aforementioned Fish Culture Centre.
The facility "has the capacity to rear as many as 60 million fish each year. This stock replaces fish populations in waterbodies where winter kill has occurred or where natural reproduction is not successful. The station also stocks newly formed waterbodies (reservoirs) and waters where natural reproduction cannot keep up with the fishing pressure. Stock can be used to extend the range of species, such as lake trout and arctic grayling, making them more accessible to anglers. A number of new species which do not occur naturally in Saskatchewan waters have been introduced," details information for their website.
It is certainly interesting to see the mounts of all the different game fish species available to anglers in Saskatchewan waters.
It is even more interesting to learn of the long history of stocking fish this province has, something which started before the province actually existed.
"The first stocking of a Saskatchewan waterbody took place in 1900. Eight million whitefish fry from a Manitoba hatchery cycle were transported 300 miles by rail and horse-drawn wagon to the Qu'Appelle Valley lakes.
"The demand on prairie fish stocks increased due to the rapid settlement of the west in the early twentieth century. Fort Qu'Appelle Fish Culture Station began operating in 1915. During the station's early years, the vast majority of its stock was whitefish. Cisco were introduced (1918), perch (1920), bass (1923) and walleye, brown trout and rainbow trout (1924).
"Additional species raised over the years include lake trout (first introduced in 1926), brook trout (1933), smelt (1944), arctic grayling (1947), kokanee salmon (1961), alpine char (1964), splake trout (1966), coho salmon (1969), cutthroat trout and tiger trout (1988). Walleye, northern pike and the various trout species presently comprise the majority station stock."
Tours of the hatchery are available by appointment in season as well.
Another Fort Qu'Appelle shore option is right in town, with areas of access to the Qu'Appelle River which flows into the east end of Echo Lake. There as a dam in town to help regulate lake levels, and while you cannot fish right adjacent to the structure, there are accessible spots with town streets as your back drop.
The location is handy in terms of traveling back and forth to Regina, and certainly worth a stop with a fishing pole in-hand.