Friday, March 1, 2024

REPORT: Fishing Canada – Part 2

I AM currently in the middle of a Canadian fishing and family adventure. This time I am reporting on a fishing trip into the North West Territories, on Great Slave Lake. I stayed at a camp called Frontier Fishing Lodge.

This is a famous lodge that has been around for over 40 years. I have to say that all our dealings with Wayne and Debbie (the owners) had been extremely efficient and professional. They even helped arrange flights for us to another fishing lodge! There was nothing that seemed to be too much trouble for them.

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This trip was aimed at targeting lake trout, pike and arctic grayling. I travelled there with my long time family and fishing mate, Andy McGovern. We met up in Vancouver where fine and hot conditions were continuing. Apparently this would be far less of a problem in the north than I had experienced in BC. We caught a commercial flight to Yellowknife and stayed overnight.

The following morning we were met at the hotel for a transfer to the floatplane depot. Floatplanes are a pretty common way to get around in Canada but pretty unique for us Aussies. The flight across the north from Yellowknife to the far reaches of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake was fantastic. As an Aussie, you simply cannot appreciate how much water there is in this part of the world. You also can’t appreciate just how big Great Slave Lake is! We were only fishing a tiny part of the East Arm. The main basin of the lake is like an inland sea.

After about a 45 minute flight the plane descended and landed in the bay near the lodge. It is a large site that can accommodate as many as 30 anglers. There were about 20 in house during our stay. We only stayed for three full days, the afternoon of our arrival and the morning of our departure.

After settling in for lunch and a briefing from Wayne we got geared up and met our guide. Tom was a young fella from Ontario who had his own guiding business back home and had decided to travel over and try the wilderness guiding experience.

He was full of enthusiasm when we met on the dock for our relatively short afternoon session. He quickly suggested we hit the pike water first to get some pike action in before trying for some lake trout later on. These are the two principal species available in the lake, although there are grayling and lake whitefish but these need to be specifically targeted to be in with a chance.

After a short boat ride we arrived in a bay that for anyone who has studied anything about pike looked like classic pike water. Sure enough, within a few casts Andy had caught his first northern pike. Only a little guy of 40-45 cms or so, but a good start. Within quick time, we had caught around 10 more. Again they were all pretty small but in the shallow crystal clear waters it was pretty good fun. Once we were done with the pike we went out into the main lake for some lake trout. Again quite quickly we had fish on. The trout were anywhere between three and five pounds, but plentiful. We ended up with around 20 fish for a quick afternoon session. What a great start!

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Well known Canberra-based fisho Andy McGovern with a nice pike.

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Pat with a coule of average sized lake trout.

Over the next three days we travelled a lot to some amazing places. We went to a spot called Red Cliff where we trolled in the shadows of a cliff that seemed 100m tall. We cast lures over shallow reefs or shoals and watched fish swimming around or over the crystal clear waters striking the lures. We had a shore lunch of trout and side dishes that Tom prepared each day while Andy and I walked the shoreline casting lures. We caught fish on each occasion doing this.

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Andy (top) and Pat (above) accounted for some stonking lake trout trolling deep water close to the lake’s scenic cliffs.

Some of the highlights were a place called the Island of Domination where we watched fish by the score free swimming over the shallow shoals. We caught them trolling and casting. We also hit a few pike spots for some fish up to 38 inches long. In some places they were a fish a cast. In one spot I cast with a surface lure that I knew would have a poor hook up rate, but it was excellent fun watching the strikes.

Also most evenings we walked for 20 or so minutes to the river that flows in near the camp to fish for grayling and whitefish. While we were a little late in the season for decent grayling fishing we still managed a few nice ones on dry flies.

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Catching grayling on dry flies is loads of fun.

Over the days we fished we managed over 150 fish, both trout and pike. Andy and I had a real blast. However, we didn’t manage to get any of the really big fish the lake is famous for. Our biggest fish was probably about 18 pounds but we did catch quite a few between 15 and 18. I also reckon we hooked a few that were larger but as is often the case, the big ones get away.

Other than a couple of periods where it was a bit windy, the weather was nothing short of fantastic. In fact a couple of days it was virtually glassed off, which on such a big body of water is quite incredible.

When it was time to depart we had to take a drive into the small native village of Lutsel Ke where we flew back to Yellowknife on a wheeled aircraft. Given that our departure date was outside their scheduled floatplane trips we took one of the other flights home.

We arrived back in Yellowknife feeling very contented but looking forward to the next destination. Heading up in to the Arctic Circle to fish for the amazing arctic char. Stay tuned!

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