In pressured pike waters across the Lower 48, your odds of catching a gator topping 20 pounds are only slightly better than your chances of actually collecting a dime from that email notification that you've won $10 million in the Nigerian Lottery. A combination of overharvesting mid-size to large fish, habitat degradation, exotic species, and other factors have decimated big-fish numbers in once-notable waters.
The good news, however, is that you don't have to settle for 16-inch snot rockets. At least not on the kind of world-class pike fisheries found in Saskatchewan pike hotspots. I'll never forget my first trip to legendary Wollaston Lake, where I broke the 44-inch barrier with the kind of gator that had eluded me during more than three decades of serious pike hunting south of the Canadian border.
Indeed, with nearly 100,000 lakes and countless river miles, the province provides incredible opportunities catching pike topping 40, even 50 inches. In fact, in 2008 Mirond Lake gave up a 47.5-pound, 55.5-inch provincial record big enough to swallow pike considered trophies in harder hit waters.
To help fuel your dreams and sift through the options, we've assembled a collection of 10 top destinations. With so much water to cover, however, we simply couldn't touch them all. So be sure to check out resources such as the Tourism Saskatchewan website to check out lakes, lodges, and outfitters across the province. Then chart your course to the fish — and trip — of a lifetime.
Canada's eighth-largest lake, Athabasca stretches more than 230 miles across Saskatchewan and Alberta. With large connected rivers and expansive weedflats, it's known for lunker lake trout but holds monster pike as well. It produced a 42-pound, 12-ounce Canadian record in 1954, and continues to provide some of the finest trophy potential on the planet. lakersunlimited.com
The sign in front of Cree Lake Lodge proclaiming 'Pike Capital of the World ' is no idle boast. While the title of the province's top pike destination is hotly contested by a number of other worthy picks, Cree coughs up enough gators topping 40 inches each season to legitimately throw its hat in the ring. It's a fine stage for world-class fishing, too. The 50 X 30-mile lake has more than 1,500 miles of shoreline and 500 islands. Plus, it offers a unique mix of 'South Pacific meets the Far North ' backdrops, thanks to its position between the Athabasca Oil Sands and Canadian Shield regions. creelakelodge.com
Just 80 miles south of the Northwest Territories, this fly-in jewel holds hordes of six- to 15-pound pike, plus plenty of trophies in the 20- to 30-pound class. Hatchet Lake Lodge, which offers sole access to 5,000 square miles of fishing Heaven from its home base atop Sandy Island, reports the lake record stands at 35 pounds.
In-Fisherman Field Editor Matt Straw ranks Misaw among the most consistent big-pike producers he's fished. Situated along the province's northern frontier, Misaw yields monsters topping 50 inches each season. The Schwandt River, which flows out of the lake near Misaw Lake Lodge, is also a fine big-fish venue. misawlakelodge.com
More than 180 miles long and up to 60 miles wide, Reindeer is flush with classic big-pike habitat. It offers thousands of islands and other structural elements, plus countless weedy bays. Expect to sight-fish sun-kissed shallows, but don't rule out deeper breaks and weed edges, which at certain times produce great catches on slow-rolled 1-ounce spinnerbaits and other beefy fare. As for fish size, Lawrence Bay Lodge reports an uptick in pike from 18 to 35 pounds, with some giants over 35. Nordic, Lindbergh's, and Arctic lodges also cater to gator hunters.
Arctic Lodges: arcticlodges.com
Nordic Lodge: reindeerlake.com
Lawrence Bay: lawrencebay.com
Ministry of Environment fisheries guru Murray Koob rates Scott high among northern Saskatchewan's must-fish pike Meccas. And why not? Fly in to Scott Lake Lodge and more than 200,000 acres of Class-A gator water are yours to explore. Given its Far North location, you can expect shallow pike most anytime in early to mid-summer, but guide Jason Hamilton reported in early July 2013 that unseasonably warm temperatures had pushed many pike into cabbage and eelgrass in six to 10 feet of water, where glidebaits like the Salmo Sweeper were mopping up monsters. scottlakelodge.com
With a track record of producing pike up to 53 inches in length — including countless gators over four feet — Selwyn is a great choice for joining the 50-inch club. Covering roughly 135,000 acres, the 45-mile-long, 18-mile-wide lake straddles the Saskatchewan-Northwest Territories border. Imagine, all that water and only around 150 anglers per season. Selwyn Lake Lodge offers an excellent base camp for enjoying it all, complete with 18-foot boats powered by 40-horse outboards for zipping quickly from one big-fish spot to the next.
Lying in the northwest corner of the province, 40-mile-long Tazin is a top big-pike destination. June into July, trophies topping 40 and pushing the 50-inch mark move into shallow, weedy bays, offering incredible shallow-water action. tazinlake.com
Cheemo Lodge: cheemolodge.com
This drive-to Saskatchewan River reservoir is legendary for world-class walleyes, and rightly so, having produced a string of provincial records plus an 18-pound, 4-ounce ice fishing world record. However, it's a hotspot for giant pike as well — thanks in part to its amazing fertility, along with a 75- to 115-centimeter protected slot limit. The lake record tops 38 pounds, and Tobin routinely relinquishes 40-inch-plus pike. Given its location in southern Saskatchewan, it's within reach of monster-questing road trippers from across the U.S. sasktrophies.com
Tobin Lake Resort: tobinlakeresort.com
Billed as the largest lake in the world with outflows in two different drainage basins, Wollaston is also home to world-class trophy pike fishing. Each season, it yields numbers of gators from the mid-40 to 50-inch range. Sight-fishing shallow bays, points and neck-downs shines early in the year. Plus, there's a deep weedbed bite in August you have to see to believe. wollastonlakelodge.com