June 6, 2010
Morning came rather quickly in Saskatchewan, Canada. We did not get to bed until after 2 am last night. We fished till midnight then we were so keyed up after catching our biggest pike of the trip that we couldn’t stop talking about it. At 6 am lodge manager Phil woke us up with hot coffees in hand. I could barley see straight. I was already tired from Pagato, but now having less than four hours of sleep – I was hurting bad. But I heaved myself from the bed and chugged the coffee. Then we had a great breakfast and met our guides at the dock at 8.
Today is the first day of the season for Lawrence Bay Lodge. The ice left Reindeer Lake only two weeks ago. Chris and I fished with a guide named Nelson. Nelson is an Indian that was born and raised on Reindeer Lake. His grandfather, a man that lived to an astonishing ninety-eight, guided here for sixty-seven years! You could tell Nelson was going to be excellent right from the get go. We pushed off from the dock and he informed us we had an eighteen minute drive to his first spot. He was talkative and gave us info on this huge lake and about growing up in the remote area. I enjoy getting the rundown on more than just the fishing.
Once again the weather was incredible. Here we are this far north and it’s nicer than it’s been back home. If you look at Reindeer Lake on the map you will see that it is enormous. I would expect such a monster lake this far north to be windy at all times. This morning it was so calm it was like glass. However, although the sun shined bright, the ice cold water of the lake made for a cold ride and I couldn’t wait for our speedy run to be over. When we got to the place I stood on the bow and looked around. It was a shallow bay and I could barely see bottom. As we drifted further in it shallowed up nicely and I could see weeds. The back of the bay was ridden with lily pads and sunken trees. This had high potential.
On my fourth cast with a huge chartreuse bunny streamer I got jolted. I was so used to the Pagoto Lake hammer handle pike that when this fish started peeling line I barely remembered what to do. When I was able to hoist back on the brute I was delighted to see a fish of at least 36”s! About then Chris shouted he had one also and a few minutes later we were both releasing pike larger than we’d seen the entire trip.
We probably landed ten pike from that first spot. Most of them were about 33” – 35”s long. Generally, a 35” pike is close to 10lbs. This was incredible fishing! Nelson took us from bay to bay and we caught at least several pike over 30” each time.
As the sun got higher we began to see the pike. I saw a gargantuan pike slowly swimming along the bottom. He was aware of us and would have nothing to do with my fly. A minute later I spotted another big boy. This pike was pointed towards the bank as if waiting for a frog, bird or small mammal to make a mistake. I made a decent cast into the grass where he was facing and I could see him turn ever so slightly. Sure enough he slowly stalked my fly before picking up speed and devouring it. Landing a big pike with this many submerged trees in the water is a challenge. Luckily, when you fish on Reindeer Lake you fish heavy tippet with a foot of wire. My exact rig was a stout 30lb tippet attached to 40lb Rio Knottable wire. With my 9-weight Ross fly rod in hand I bullied the pike to the boat and avoided all the logs. Nelson (who forgot his net) reached over and wrestled the pike to where we both could lift him into the boat. It was a magnificent 39” monster!
This may sound insane, but by days end Chris and I landed at least twenty-five pike over 30”s. Many of these were better than 36”s and Chris boated a 43”er! I love pike fishing anywhere I go, but after today, it will never be the same again. We ended our fishing promptly at 5 pm. It was tough to quit but the fishing hours at the lodge are from 8 am to 5 pm. Worse than that, it was the end of our trip. At 6 pm we got picked up by the float plane and enjoyed a bouncy twenty minute ride to Southend where we left the truck a week ago. Without wasting a minute we started our twenty-six hour drive. It’s now 3 am and we just left Saskatoon. I’m exhausted but I’m helping Chris spot the whitetail deer crossing the road. To the south it is dark like it is supposed to be at 3 am, but behind us to the north is the glow of the midnight sun. What an incredible trip! I already miss it but it’s time to go home. I have a bass fly fishing tournament on Thursday!