I was going to post on Tuesday, my last day of fishing at Arctic Lodges. However, it was a fantastic day’s fishing, and when got to the cabin it was decided to have a “wee” nip of scotch to celebrate. Being there wasn’t much more we have a wee bit more. Then at dinner there was a couple glasses of wine, followed by a couple beers Duane offered me in thanks for a good afternoon on the water. End result, I was able to carry on what I think was reasonable conversation, but experience has taught me that writing and drinking don’t mix. While I think I’m writing well, I usually find myself asking later, “What was I thinking?” So, like drinking and driving, I give the keys to someone else.
My last day on Reindeer Lake was by far the best catching of the trip, and a strange one at that. All week, I’d been talking with Duane about fishing together, especially as he wanted “pointers” on fly fishing for northern pike. Unfortunately, things conspired to keep him working and off the water. That morning he felt he could break away for a few hours after lunch. So I agreed to fish locally, and meet him back at the lodge for lunch (forgoing shore lunch).
Meeting up with Celestine, my guide, I explained the situation and that we needed to fish nearby coves. My goal was big pike, so I asked that when we pulled into a spot if we didn’t see or catch good fish after a few casts we’d move on, to which he agreed.
Our first stop (and only stop that morning) was a little cove just an island over from the lodge, called Lunchbox. There was a slight breeze onto the left shoreline from the mouth. I’d say west, but don’t have a clue which direction was which. As we drifted toward shore I make a long cast and started my retrieve. The drift was faster than I cared for and we quickly were too close to shore and I had to strip fast just to catch up. At which point Celestine started backing off the shore and I looked down to see a pike swimming alongside the boat and pointed it out to Celestine. Of course his response was, “Catch it.”
I striped quickly in hopes I could drop my fly in front of the fish, but I was having trouble locating where my fly was. At that point I’d stripped in most of the shooting head, meaning only a few feet of line and the leader were still in the water, allowing me to lift it out for a cast. Lifting the rod, I found myself setting the hook on the fish I was hoping to cast to. The fish had obviously picked up the fly, and then disturbed by the boat began swimming off on a path alongside us carrying the fly fully in its mouth. After a good fight, my first cast netted me my first fish (and largest) of the day, a nice 39 inch pike.
While we saw several fish larger than my first one, I never managed to get any of them to commit. Big fish sightings, non-stop catching, and lots of mid-thirty inch fish kept us glued to lunchbox until lunch. At which time we made the quick run to the lodge.
Now as much as I love shore lunches, the staff does quite well for themselves also, as I shared split pea soup, pasta salad, and hot biscuits, all freshly made. Afterwards we headed back to Lunchbox.
As is typically the case when helping folks with fly fishing, assisting Duane became a bit of a fly casting lesson. While he had experience fly fishing, his tempo was off, and big, heavy flies are unforgiving, especially with slower rods, which his was. After a bit I convinced him to try my rod, ultimately two of them, and the faster action allowed him to settle into a workable rhythm. Surprisingly to me, after an hour or so he was able to go back to his rod and cast sufficiently far and well to fish the large whistlers that had been working for me.
The nice thing about pike is a 30-50 feet cast is plenty to get you some good catching, especially when the fish are aggressive as they were that day. So it wasn’t long before Duane was hooking up on a regular basis. Aside from casting we also worked on line control, stripping techniques, hook-set, and playing fish. Being a good angler it didn’t take him long to settle in to fly fishing for pike.
We then opted to move and see if we could locate another cover with a few good fish that hadn’t been pounded on all day. Duane knew of a couple small spots typically passed over due, in part, to their size and proximity to the lodge.
The first one we pulled into appeared to be devoid of fish, that is until we moved to the windward side, where bait fish were stacked up, and right along with them several dozen pike running from the low 30 inch class up, way up. We managed numerous pike, two of which were 40 and 41 inches respectively. Both were caught by Duane. My excuse is the “fates” tend to favor/reward newbies (to fly fishing anyway) over the old salts. Probably to suck them in so they can punish them later. Whatever the reason (maybe even skill) the big girls favored Duane over me, couldn’t be the flies, as we were using my ties.
Back at the lodge, we discovered that everyone had a banner day, with several recording 40 inch plus pike, and countless fish in the 30 inch class. But the best fish of the day went to a pair concentrating on lake trout, boating a 47 inch, 55 pound fish.
So at the day and trip’s end I can safely say it was a great time and I look forward to my next journey north to Arctic Lodges, Saskatchewan. And hopefully a few more of you will be able to join us next year.