You know a fishing expedition is about to obtain interesting when your usually laid-back 19-year-old guide looks at the bend in your fishing rod, traps his breath and also says, “Uh-oh, this is gon na be a sh * tstorm!”
At that moment, the heaviest fishing pole I have was actually doubled over, thanks to a 20-pound-plus lake trout 100 feet below the boat, extremely peeling off line off my reel.
Typically outweighed by Great Bear Lake, the N.W.T.’s Great Slave provides stunning scenery, cost effective accessibility and endless lake trout
In his 6 seasons of assisting on Great Slave Lake’s East Arm, Marshall Forster (over left) has actually managed plenty of powerful N.W.T. trout, so this ought to have been regular. Why concern a sh * tstorm warning? Because my friend Lynn Henning (above right), sitting next to me, additionally had a massive fish on the line. With a hundred methods the circumstance might go sideways, difficulty appeared imminent-and it would be all my fault.
Everything started when Lynn hooked up initial directly listed below the boat, just moments after his hefty jig hit bottom. Instantaneously, we can tell he had the largest fish of the trip up until now on his line. However rather than allowing Lynn have his minute, I stealthily dropped my very own lure to the bottom, intending to get a fan. A couple of cranks of the reel later on, I did, offering us a double-header for the ages.
Thankfully, the anticipated sh * tstorm really did not materialize, and after a set of heart-pounding fights, Marshall stood up as well as netted Lynn’s fish, after that rotated to the opposite of the boat and deftly scooped up mine. For a couple of wonderful secs, the three of us marvelled at the view of 40-odd pounds of lake trout in one net (listed below), shimmering in the lunchtime northern sunlight. Although we still had several days of fishing to go, this felt like the orgasm of our trip. Little did we understand, the most effective was yet ahead.
It’s difficult to picture that the world’s 10th-largest lake-a body of water 470 kilometres long and 200 kilometres wide-could ever before be an afterthought. Yet Great Slave Lake is often neglected by anglers that are, rather, attracted by Great Bear Lake, further to the north.
Bear is the prestige fishing destination. It’s bigger as well as more remote, bordering right into the Arctic expanse, as well as it’s house to the world-record lake trout. Bear is where you go to attempt to catch a 50-pound laker. Great Slave is a lot more inexpensive as well as easier to get to, as well as where you go to capture loads of 15 -to 20-pounders, and typically a few larger ones. And also one of the best areas to do that is literally
500 metres from the front door of Great Slave Lake Lodge. Operated by Plummer’s Arctic Lodges, the camp (over)lies at Taltheilei Narrows, about midway up Slave’s huge East Arm. In 1938, Chummy Plummer as well as his kid, Warren, were discovering the lake by canoe, trying to find a fabled fishing place. After moistening a line at the narrows, they recognized they would certainly found it. Twenty years later on, Warren’s kid, also called Chummy, established a lodge at the narrows.
Since then, generations of guides as well as visitors have experienced the area’s outstanding angling chances, and also for many years, the perennial locations have actually made labels ranging from the obvious to the bafflingly odd. Last August, Lynn and I joined the checklist of visitors to fish those fabled places.
East of the lodge, Slave’s McLeod Bay extends for one more 130 kilometres, gathering water from an immense drainage area. All of it funnels through Taltheilei Narrows, past the lodge en path to the Mackenzie River and eventually the Beaufort Sea. The tightens aren’t precisely a rapids, yet there’s a lot of water relocating via, swirling around small islands, creating riffles as well as swirls, and flowing over burrow to 40 feet deep.
This focuses a substantial amount of forage that attracts killers varying from Arctic grayling to lake trout to predators. Because of this, Taltheilei Narrows is perhaps the very best place on the entire lake-and possibly the world-to constantly land sizable lake trout (top, as well as note lodge in background!)
Lynn and also I were within shouting range of the lodge when we captured both the last and also very first fish of our journey. Yet as effective as that area was, we selected to venture more afield and also see even more of the East Arm’s spectacular landscape, with its towering cliffs and also stands of evergreens, in between recently burned-over patches.
The Aquarium and also the Pigpen
A 40-minute watercraft trip from the lodge lies Christie Bay, where Great Slave plunges to an astonishing 2,014 feet-the deepest water in North America. The Aquarium as well as the Pigpen are shallow, semi-enclosed containers simply inside the bay, and that’s where we invested a lot of our initial complete day, trolling five-and-a-half-inch Huskie Devle spoons. We snatched a great deal of middling fish in the 10-pound variety (top) and promptly found out simply how strong these lakers are.
When hooked, they simply drew and pulled and also never ever gave up. It didn’t take long for us, nonetheless, to change into the ridiculous, but inescapable, lodge mentality, where a trout that would certainly be the fish of the year in the house ends up being utterly widespread, leaving you wishing for bigger game.
The Snake Pit and the Goldmine
On Slave, many fishermens concentrate on trout, yet Lynn and I wanted to example more of the menu. One tranquility, warm day, we took a trip 90 mins east to the Snake Pit which is, by much, the best name I’ve ever heard for a northern pike hole. It was late in the season for pike, however as we wandered around a broad, gently weeded bay, I managed to land an energetic 34-inch northern on my 8-weight fishing pole, while Lynn hauled in 37- and also 38-inch fish on a Johnson Silver Minnow (leading).
After some great, slimed enjoyable, we proceeded to the neighboring Goldmine. It was an unremarkable, boulder-strewn coastline, apparently similar to numerous other such locations. For one reason or another, nevertheless, it was residence to all the Arctic grayling worldwide. Or so it appeared. They were also big-most longer than 20 inches-and hungry, striking our little spinners as well as flies with the enthusiastic desert of a kids’ hockey group at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Ever since I first saw images of grayling as a child, I’ve yearned to catch one on a light fly rod and marvel at its sailfish-like fin and also glittering grey, blue and mauve body. At the Goldmine, I lastly got to, sometimes over (above).
By the middle of our trip, Lynn as well as I had landed 50 or 60 lake trout, probably balancing far better than 10 extra pounds, plus a couple of in the teens. Yet many thanks to that lodge mentality-and I realize just how unreasonable, also ridiculous this sounds-we felt a little unfinished, specifically after seeing various other visitors triple or double our catches, including a 34-pound behemoth for Winnipeg’s Buzz Grant (below). After that 2 things occurred: we mosted likely to Horseshoe Bay, and we discovered just how to jig properly for Slave’s lakers.
Our basic angling approach was to troll known fish-holding locations, then stop to jig when Marshall actually spotted concentrations of fish on his sonar. The jigging, however, had actually been discouraging. As it ended up, we were doing it wrong. We were fishing the camp’s most preferred jigs-two-ounce, six-inch-long tubes-but with gentle, walleye-style lifts and decreases. And also, in 100-plus feet of water, also a two-ounce tube takes a patience-trying size of time to spiral down to all-time low.
So when we travelled right into the fjord-like Horseshoe Bay and saw fish accumulated inside out, I took out my now-we-mean-business baits. Lynn took a four-ounce bucktail jig dressed with a five-inch Mr. Twister grub, as well as I tied on a five-and-a-half-ounce, eight-inch Savage Gear Sandeel swimbait in tasteless chartreuse (below). These lures dropped to the base in secs, touchdown with a pleasing thud.
We additionally adjusted our techniques to trigger the aggressive, predatory lakers by just reeling our jigs back up at a brisk speed, with just periodic, quick stops. As well as child, did that fire up the trout. Sometimes they would strike after just a number of cranks, and also others halfway up the water column. I also saw one 15-pounder touch up from the inky depths to T-bone my jig just listed below the surface area. We soon had a lots excellent fish, topped off by that sh * tstorm double-header producing a 19-pound fish for Lynn and also a 23-pounder for me (top of web page). It was the second-most intriguing experience we had in Horseshoe Bay.
Generally, being coupled with a teenaged angling guide may be a reason for some worry, however not on this journey. Marshall, from Spruce Grove, Alberta, had been involving the lodge every summertime given that he was a youngster, many thanks to his late grandpa, that was the camp manager for decades. That’s likewise why Marshall understands a couple of angling places overlooked by the less-seasoned guides, consisting of Busse Bay. There, against the background of a kilometres-long, 20-storey cliff, our jigging touch continued. In your home in Ontario, I tend to sleep while tip-tapping a quarter-ounce jig along the bottom, yet going down as well as getting these quarter-pound appeals was edge-of-the-seat things.
We invested the afternoon in Busse after leaving Horseshoe Bay, as well as never went greater than 15 minutes without landing a nice fish, including some interesting instances of the various trout pressures located in the lake. The most exceptional were the so-called butterfly lakers (top). Typically little, these fish are clearly coloured, with cartoonishly large red-orange pectoral, tail and also pelvic fins.
I was likewise fascinated by a variety of trout with enormous, terrifying heads tapering to long, slim bodies that I nicknamed “anacondas” (above).
Horseshoe Bay, Part II
After informing stories regarding our double-header at Horseshoe Bay, we most likely shouldn’t have been shocked to find 3 other Plummer’s boats there when we returned the following early morning at concerning 9:30 a.m. Still, in a 27,000-square-kilometre lake, I was a little surprised. I discovered two points: the other anglers were jigging just on the bottom and also, despite the veritable trout convention visible on the sonar, they weren’t hooking anything. So Lynn showed them exactly how it was done.
Going down and also cranking our jigs, we instantly landed as well as launched a pair of fish while the various other fishermens drifted by, frowning as well as furtively attempting to see what we were doing. Midway through one get, Lynn’s pole bowed as well as his drag started screaming. By then, I ‘d noticed that Marshall was respectable at judging the size of fish long prior to we saw them. He ‘d place on a tailing handwear cover to help order and also quickly release the fish Whenever he thought a medium-sized trout was on the line. This time around, though, he promptly reached for his large hoop net.
Soon, Lynn had landed and released a thick, effective 22-pound trout. Not 15 mins later on, his bucktail obtained struck with a shoulder-separating influence. After one more fierce battle, Marshall as well as Lynn posed for a fast picture with a 23-pound laker (top). It was a true beast, with a protruding intestine and gaping, ferociously kyped jaw-likely the last view ever seen by thousands of frightened ciscoes.
As we left Horseshoe Bay to the various other boats, all our wish for the journey had been extremely surpassed, so it was time to indulge in a last, more esoteric obstacle. And I knew where we had to go.
The Narrows, Part II
As life objectives go, this isn’t exactly treating cancer cells and even running a marathon, however I actually intended to land a laker on my fishing pole. And Taltheilei Narrows, which just might be the very best lake trout hole in the world, seemed like the location to do it. Using my tough 10-weight TFO Mangrove pole, a big-game reel spooled with full-sinking line and also a nine-inch-long fly, I started casting from the boat and allowing the line swing in the present. It was a rather cumbersome procedure, specifically with two other people aboard, flinching and eluding every time I swung the nine-foot rod. I did what everybody else does in the narrows: I trolled.
I’ve grabbed a few methods for trolling flies, but truthfully, I really did not expect much. After only 15 minutes, as we transformed across the existing behind a little island, my line brushed up downstream and went tight to a fish. What adhered to was one of one of the most extreme as well as exhilarating fish fights of my life-a crash course in taking care of a powerful trout from a boat in relocating water (listed below).
There were strained moments, but with a teamwork, we got the fish in the web. I then hoisted the dynamic, red-finned laker for a fast picture (top of page), which perfectly captured that indelible moment of jubilation as well as alleviation, along with a little shock.
You know that sense of leisure you get when you’ve done every little thing you wished to, however still have an additional 24 hours in heaven? That’s just how I felt on our last day of angling. We unwinded, mainly trolling near a long, slim granite point decorated with a tiny lighthouse. I used my fly rod exclusively as well as, with a deepening feeling of satisfaction, learned that the fish I would certainly caught at the narrows wasn’t a fluke. In water ranging from 20 to 100 feet deep, I trolled my fly right alongside Lynn’s spoon and we almost matched each various other fish for fish, consisting of a number of double-headers.
I made use of the exact same fly all day, an anonymous pattern of my very own style (above) based on the traditional deep sea Seaducer fly, yet supersized with a three-part articulated body, a stinger hook and a bulky head of plastic, wool and also synthetic fur. With flash, vibration as well as a snaky activity, it was simply dangerous. For the capper, I hooked an effective trout in fairly superficial water, however as we wandered right into the primary network, the fish sounded, going away right into the depths with my entire 90-foot fly line, and also at least another 100 feet of Dacron backing.
When lakers are deep, you need to make sure not to stress them by drawing them up also swiftly. With this fish, that had not been mosting likely to be a problem. After much lifting and also cranking, gaining line and shedding it once more, I finally landed the fish-a picture-perfect, silvery-grey 15-pounder (above).
The checklist for a dream fishing trip includes several things: clear weather, great company, plentiful or unforgettable fish, comfy accommodations, magnificent landscapes, excellent food and drink, and the chance to challenge yourself and also find out new methods. I’ve had an excellent trip if I can tick just a few of those boxes. But every once in a while, you obtain extremely lucky, as Lynn and also I did on Great Slave Lake, as well as tick each and every single box. I would certainly say it would be impossible to top, yet we’re fishermen, so you understand we’re mosting likely to try.
Run by the legendary Plummer’s Arctic Lodges, Great Slave Lake Lodge is open in July and also August, and can suit 44 visitors in modern cabins with full facilities. Plummer’s deals three-day, four-day and week-long journeys to Great Slave, total with meals, lodging, overviews, deal with as well as trips in between the lodge and Yellowknife.