Fishing the Land of the Midnight Sun

By Chad Schearer marsha_and_fred_hamilton_getting_ready_to_fish_400

Circling the large Arctic lake the first morning of our trip, we could see monstrous lake trout and Arctic Char lying at the inlet of the river that fed this Arctic depression. As Fred Hamilton feathered the floats of the Cessna 206 to a soft landing on the water, 500 yards upstream from the fish, my wife Marsha and I knew this had the makings of a very good day of fishing. What makes a fishing area great?  Is it the size of the fish? The number of fish you catch, or is it the solitude of not seeing anyone else besides your guide all day and having the whole body of water to yourself? On a recent fishing trip to the High Arctic Lodge, I found all of those things and so much more. Located on Victoria Island (which is roughly the size of Texas) the High Arctic Lodge sits 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada. I know you’re thinking that the Arctic must be a long journey from the lower 48. But it is not it is just a half day flight north of Edmonton, Alberta on First Air “The Airline of the North”. As Marsha made her first cast into one of the hundreds of lakes and rivers that crisscross Victoria Island, she immediately had a strike, then another, then set the hook on a beautiful lake trout that bent her G-Loomis three-piece Escape travel rod in half. She landed the big male lake trout, released him and cast again. Ten casts later she had hooked into a combination of six lake trout and Arctic char. Seeing the enjoyment she was having I laid my camera down, unsheathed my G-Loomis eight-weight Cross Current travel fly rod and threaded the line through its guides. As my streamer sank below the surface I immediately had a powerful strike that was unlike any fish I had ever hooked on a fly rod. The line began to strip from my reel and I just held on watching yard after yard of my backing vanish into the water. After several minutes I was able to turn the fish and regain some of my line. As I brought the fish in close he spotted me and turned heading straight away like a freight train. This happened four more times before landing my first Arctic char. As I released the char back into the clear, frigid water I was amazed at the power this fish showed me. For the next several days the excitement continued as we had not stop action on large fish with a number of them over 20 lbs. One of the unique aspects of this lodge is that they fly you out each morning to different stretches of water in pursuit of high quality fishing.   Recommended tackle for your trip: Fly fisherman should bring an eight- to 10-weight, 3- or 4-piece rod with a floating and intermediate line. Char are usually found in shallower water from six inches to six feet.  Lake trout are found shallow early in the season then move deeper in August after spawning. Silver with red or chartreuse streamers worked best on our visit. A good set of waders and polarized glasses are a must as you will experience a good bit of sight fishing. Spin fisherman should pack a medium action rod and reel with 10- to 20-pound test line.  A variety of Daredevils including my favorite orange with black spots and 3/4 and 7/8th oz. Blue Pixies with orange or pink centers. Everything is catch and release so you will need single barbless hooks on these lures. No treble hooks. To fish with Canada’s premier “Catch & Release” Arctic char & lake trout fishing lodge contact them at: www.higharctic.com or 800-661-3880. The ice is only off of the water a couple months a year so book early to insure you get a spot.


 

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