Fishing across Canada: 1998 (P2)

MANITOBA

Take a look at Manitoba’s 1996 angling records and you will notice that two lakes — Nueltin and Achapapuskow — produced the top ten lake trout. While the first is remote and only can be reached by air, Achapapuskow Lake is actually accessible by road.

In fact, Achapapuskow, located just 1 mile south of Flin Flon, is considered to have the finest road-accessible lake trout fishery in western Canada. Each year, lakers in the 50-pound range are taken, and lake trout in the 30- to 40-pound class are the common occurrence. The general consensus is that this lake will produce the next world-record laker. Extending across the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border, Athapap is a large, oligotrophic lake that covers some 104 square miles and is permeated with reefs and structures. This fishery has been nurtured to world-class trophy-water status through careful management and implementation of the mandatory release of all trout over 22 inches.

Although lakes take center stage on this lake,, Athapap also produces trophy northern (Pickerel Bay and North Arm) and excellent numbers of walleyes (Pickerel Bay, Mink, and Barrell Narrows). Nearby, Schist Lake is a good spot for trophy pike, Amisk Lake is worth trying for pike and walleyes, and Nistum Lake produces good numbers of trophy rainbows.

Though Athapap is located 445 miles north of Winnipeg, its proximity to Flin Flon ensures that anglers have a selection of accommodations and services.

SASKATCHEWAN

When the CanAm Highways was linked to Saskatchewan’s road system in 1987 in an effort to promote north-south trade along its route, the project’s promoters inadvertently and unknowingly opened the door to a world-class sports fishery. A few adventurous sportsmen willing to explore the land laid open by the links soon discovered that the northern terminus of this network encompassed a world-class fishery in northern Saskatchewan.

Beginning in the community of La Ronge, Highway 102 is the last segment of the CanAm network, and along its 132-mile course, a lifetime of fishing opportunities can be found. The town of La Ronge is surrounded by Lac La Ronge Provincial Park, which covers some 840,493 acres and encompasses more than 100 lakes, in addition to the 546-square-mile Lac La Ronge and its 1,100 islands. Slightly over half of the park’s total surface area is water!

On Lac La Ronge itself, there is excellent lake trout fishing in areas like Hunter Bay, good walleye fishing in Pickerel Bay, and memorable fishing for northern in Mitchell Bay. However, whitefish are the most sought-after species in these waters.

Heading north along Highway 102 presents myriad fishing opportunities. The small roadside lakes are stocked with various species of trout — rainbow, brown, tiger, splake, cutthroat, and brookies — and provide numerous camping sites. The Churchill River, located 48 miles north of La Ronge, has long been a destination for anglers and canoeists alike

Pike and walleyes provide the major angling on this system; accommodations and boat rentals are available in Missinipe.

Another 42 miles to the north is Brabant Lake where you can arrange day-fishing fly-outs to Fleming, Lavender, and Sucker Lakes for pike. Lake trout are the predominant gamefish in Brabant and nearby Red Hill Lakes.

ALBERTA

While southern Alberta has long been famous for its well-publicized cold-water trout fisheries on the Bow, Crowsnest, and Oldman River systems, the Peace River country of northern Alberta has quietly developed into a smorgasbord for the intrepid angler. Located 290 miles northwest of Edmonton via Highways 43 and 2, the town of Peace River is the gateway to an area of virtually undiscovered fishing for trophy northern and walleyes up to 10 pounds. You’ll also find grayling, goldeye, and bull and lake trout.

There are two ways to fish the Peace — from the shore and from a boat. Since this river tends to be silty, the majority of fishing is done at the confluence of incoming streams and rivers. The Whitemud, Wolverine, Wabasca, and Buffalo systems are excellent choices and the backwaters of the Peace River are excellent spots as well, especially for big northern!

Road access is available both upstream and downstream from the town. Dunvegan and Notikewin Provincial Parks offer river confluences, camping facilities, and boat launches. Because of the numerous and randomly scattered sandbars and the fact that the waters of this 1,195-mile river can fluctuate up to 3 feet in a day, the boat of choice for the Peace is a jet boat. Nevertheless, a prop-driven 15-footer, used with common sense, will do fine.

The Wabasca River system is partially road-accessible by Highway 88 and produces pike to 15 pounds, walleyes to 10 pounds, and 1-pound grayling. It is navigable by jet boat for most of its length.

There are two interesting side trips anglers should consider. One is from Peace River to High Level along Highway 35. Numerous creeks and rivers cross the highway and various roads offer access to upstream waters. The Whitemud River, Keg River, and Notikewin River offer excellent fishing for pike, walleyes, and grayling in spectacular surroundings.

The second side trip is to Lesser Slave Lake, 140 miles southeast of Peace River. Lesser Slave offers trophy northern of up to 25 pounds and, in the West Basin, trophy walleyes of up to 12 pounds. There are two campgrounds on the south shore; Lesser Slave Provincial Park on the east shore has a good beach. This lake has the potential to produce a new walleye record.

THE ARCTIC

The Yukon Territory covers an area of 289,509 square miles, including 2,689 square miles of freshwater. Yet the population density is only 0.1 per square mile. With that much territory out there, where do you begin? For an all-around sampling of what the Yukon has to offer, try the Circle route. It begins in Watson Lake, runs through Whitehorse to Carmacks, down the eastern side of the territory, and then back to Watson Lake.

Proceeding west from Watson Lake the angler can fish for grayling, pike, and whitefish in rivers such as the Liard. You’ll also find Dolly Varden and grayling in the Rancheria. Morley Bay and Morley River, located just east of Teslin, offers fishing for pike in the 6- to 8-pound class, lake trout of 6 to 8 pounds, and grayling of 3 to 5 pounds. Teslin Lake, located 163 miles northwest of Watson Lake, also offers excellent fishing for chinook salmon in August. Guides and boats are available at Nisutlin Bay Marina, an arm of Teslin Lake.

On the way to Whitehorse, some 114 miles northwest of Teslin, the angler can find a variety of fishing in the Teslin River, Squanga Lake, and Marsh Lake. Hidden, Scout, Long, Jackson, and McClean Lakes, in the area surrounding the capital of the Yukon, Whitehorse, offer rainbow and coho fishing.

The 109-mile stretch from Whitehorse to Carmacks offers roadside fishing for the Yukon’s most popular gamefish — grayling and lake trout.

The trip from Carmacks to Watson Lake is a 374-mile journey into a sportsman’s paradise. Heading south, the Campbell Highway traverses the eastern side of the territory. If the waters of Frenchman, Salmon, and Little Salmon beckon anglers, Ross River — located 230 miles southeast of Carmacks — mesmerizes them. Situated at the crossroads of the Canal Road and the Campbell Highway, Ross River is the gateway to some of the most scenic parts of the Yukon and world-class grayling. Add Frances Lake to the south and the circle is complete. It features beautiful sand eskers, lots of structure, and lake trout weighing 20 pounds.

The Yukon is accessible by the Cassiar Highway and the Alaska Highway.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Located south of Vanderhoof, the Nechako Lakes district is one of those many uncut gems hidden in the heart of British Columbia’s interior. Though far enough from the hubbub of the big cities, it is, at the same time, not remote enough that you’ll need to forsake modern conveniences. Anglers can choose between catching hundreds of small trout or a trophy fish. Accommodations vary from fancy resorts to wilderness camping. A 120-mile circle tour on good gravel roads offers destinations to spend a night or a whole summer.

Some 12 miles south of Vanderhoof and set against a backdrop of farm meadows and aspen forests, Tachick and Nulki Lakes have good fishing for rainbow trout and lake trout weighing up to 7 pounds. Tachick Lake Resort offers a campsite, cabins, and a superb restaurant. The circle tour starts just sound of Tachick Lake at the junction of Kennedy Dam Road and the Kluskus Forestry Road.

A short drive west of Nechako Lodge is Cicuta Lake, also called Rum Cache. This near-wilderness lake has a forestry campsite and offers superb fishing. It’s not unusual to catch over fifty 12- to 20-inch fish in a day.

Hobson and Chief Grey Lakes, situated 10 miles west of Nechako, are set aside for fly fishing. Though rather small, the pair harbor rainbow trout to about 10 pounds. Hobson has a small forestry campsite, but Chief Grey requires a hike that takes about an hour when packing a float tube and waders. Both lakes are designated catch-and-release only.

Continuing east beyond Hobson, you come to the junction of Kluskus Road. A right turn takes you south into Blackwater country. There are several hundred miles of logging roads that access several dozen lakes. A left turn at the Kluskus Junction continues north on the circle tour.

The first junction you’ll encounter after that is at the 59-kilometer sign to Finger Lake and Tatuk Lake. Both are surrounded by a breathtaking mountain wilderness setting; the fishing for rainbow trout up to 4 pounds and kokanee salmon up to 14 inches is excellent.

North on the Kluskus Road, there are a series of well-marked trailheads to lakes full of rainbows. The trail to Greer Lake Falls is an easy 1 1/2-mile return to the trip. It is about 3 1/2 miles to Home Lake.

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