Canadian Splendor and Big Fish

For you folks contemplating a trip up to Canada to enjoy some great fishing, I’d like to share a little story with you that will whet your appetite for adventure. If you’re a Canadian first-timer or a regular every summer, the “Canadian Experience,” as I call it, truly will stay with you for life.

This memorable adventure took place deep within the Canadian wilderness:

A few years back I was up north deep in the Bush Country gathering some information for some stories I was doing on fishing in Canada. The particular lake I was at was drop-dead beautiful with its secluded bays, islands and sheltered shoreline. The size was huge too, stretching 25 miles in length. The neat part was that I was with two retired NHL hockey players who were friends of mine. Our Cree Indian guide was on the lake with us during our four-day adventure as well.

After the two-hour floatplane trip from the base north of Thunder Bay, Ont., the lake we’d be fishing at came into view. After arriving at our cabin and unpacking our gear, it was into the boats for us to test some of the fish available. My mission that day was to see if the fish population here was good enough to support a small fishing lodge that was to be located along the water. After my findings, I was then to report back to the Ontario Ministry of Fisheries.

We started the day casting big flashy spoons into the some of the many secluded bays. I was in one boat with the guide while the two hockey players were in another.

It did not take very long for the action to start.

On the third cast I saw the water explode as a huge northern attacked my spoon with reckless abandon. After a great 10-minute fight I netted the northern that later topped the scales at 18 pounds. The fish was carefully unhooked and released to fight another day. Throughout the next two hours I enjoyed catching more northerns with the same flashy spoon. The other boat enjoyed the same fast action, but now it was time to move on.

Next, we were going to fish areas around a few of the small rivers and streams that entered the lake—the walleyes were our goal. The presentation was simple: I cast 1/4-ounce jig heads tipped with a 3-inch Twister Tail that was attached. Again, the action was truly fabulous—walleyes caught were all over 4 pounds. The biggest of the day was a whopping 11-pound beauty that was later released.

Finally, it was time to head back to camp for dinner.

After a great Canadian dinner of fresh-caught fish, baked beans and fried potatoes and onions, I was stuffed. I decided that I would walk down to the boat dock and spend some time casting the area, not knowing what to expect.

What happened next showed me yet again just how good this lake was.

Our Cree guide was a smoker. I decided to try something, and took a small 1/8-ounce plain jig head and tied it to an ultra- light rod and reel setup I had brought along. I then noticed a few cigarette butts in a can on the dock left by our friend. I took one of the butts, cut off the filter end and attached it onto my jig. I started casting from the dock, and low and behold on my first cast a walleye in the 3-pound range inhaled my offering. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. After landing and releasing the fish I continued casting my jig/cig combination with excellent results. As I was catching fish after fish, my friends were watching in awe from the comfort of their dock chairs. I had so much fun casting from this dock with this strange bait combination that I hated stopping. But due to darkness setting in, I was forced to quit. What a great time it was and it only showed the aggressiveness of these remote Canadian lake fish.

By the time we had left for home a few days later, we all had sore arms from fighting all these fish. Without a doubt, this lake was a keeper with an outstanding fish population—I was looking forward to my report, and returning and making more great memories.

As someone who frequents Canada on a regular basis, one thing is for sure: my fishing adventures in Canada always are preceded with a great anticipation that never fades. The wonderful opportunities available for anglers to explore are endless. The angling here is plentiful, and I hope you can book a trip now to make summer and fall Canadian memories for yourself.