May 06, 2014
Over the centuries, big pike have fueled anglers' dreams, from the legendary monsters prowling Scottish lochs or inhabiting the moats of ancient monarchs in Merry Olde England, or growing huge in the brackish waters of the Caspian Sea. In North America, all eyes turn northward, for while many waters in the northern U.S. and southern Canada produce good numbers of pike over 20 pounds, and occasionally much larger, your chances for a trophy are far greater way far north, where the remoteness of lakes and restrictive harvest rules have kept pike mortality to a minimum. Huge ancient fish inhabit these cool waters, which yet are highly productive during the super-short summer season, much like the subarctic prairies.
Many of Canada's best lakes have had lodges for many years, but wise owners have generally kept fishing excellent with strict conservation rules, keeping giants in the system to ensure a good population balance. Here are some top picks for the biggest pike. There are many other outstanding waters, but In-Fisherman staff and friends have visited these giant pike locations in recent years.
1 Last Mountain Lake
Likely the best pike lake within easy driving distance of northern Minnesota and North Dakota, Last Mountain Lake is a top producer of pike in the low- to mid-40-inch range, along with lots of big walleyes as well as monster carp. This slender lake just north of Regina offers shallow bays and productive mid-depth flats where fish grow fast. Top lure options include big swimbaits, glide baits like Rapala's #12 Glidin' Rap, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits.
You've seen many In-Fisherman TV programs filmed here, and this lake is a top producer in In-Fisherman's Master Angler Program.
Contact: G & S Marina, 866/334-3306, gsmarina.com
2 Cree Lake
If you look at a road map of Saskatchewan, you will see that few straight or squiggly lines exist north of Prince Albert National Park, except those that outline big blue basins. In the midst of this wilderness area sits Cree Lake, the fourth largest lake entirely in the province. Originally settled by Hudson's Bay Company in the 1890s, it's now accessible only by float plane, via Saskatoon and La Ronge.
Ice-out occurs typically at the end of May and the lodge is open but two months, a short but productive season for giant pike as well as big lake trout. Visiting anglers notch many pike in the upper-40-inch range, with some topping the magical 50-inch mark.
Contact: Cree Lake Lodge, 306/344-4862, creelakelodge.com
3 Misaw Lake
Located in the extreme northeast corner of the Saskatchewan, Misaw is another awesome destination for anglers wanting to catch a personal-best pike, or perhaps endure shoulder-wrenching action from legions of fish only inches from that length. Big arctic grayling, 17 to 20 inches long, inhabit the fast waters of the Schwandt River, offering incredible action on the fly. Misaw Lake Lodge, the sole lodge on this lake, also offers fly-outs to their Patterson Lake Outpost and even more remote day-use waters, some of which have never been fished. In one remote lake, a pair of anglers are reported to have tangled with 268 pike, 41 of them over 40 inches.
Contact: Misaw Lake Lodge, 306/740-8803, misawlakelodge.com
4 Reindeer Lake
Massive Reindeer spans the border of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, though it mostly lies in the former. It offers expanses of shallow and mid-depth habitat for pike. Patterns range from sight-fishing early in the season to working 12- to 18-foot depths with swimbaits, bunny-strip jigs, and hefty spoons and spinnerbaits. Lindberg's and Lawrence Bay Lodge offer fine accommodations and dining.
Contact: Lawrence Bay Lodge, 701/262-4560; lawrencebaylodge.com; Lindberg's Reindeer Lodge, 866/874-7453, fishreindeerlake.com
5 Lake Athabasca
At the extreme northwest corner of the province and crossing into Alberta to the west, Lake Athabasca offers some 3,000 square miles of fishing water. It's connected to numerous river systems, large and small, whose mouths form large productive deltas jutting into the lake's deep-water habitat. The mouth of the Athabasca River, in the southwest corner, is the largest. Aquatic plants adorn these areas, offering outstanding opportunities for big spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, and jerkbaits. Though it's even more famous for giant lake trout, Athabasca produced the Canadian record pike of 42 pounds 12 ounces, and pumps out many 50-inchers.
Contact: Blackmur's Athabasca Fishing Lodges, 877/922-0957, athabascalake.com
; Lakers Unlimited, 406/552-0712, lakersunlimited.com
6 Utik Lake
A mid-size lake in the northeastern part of Manitoba, Utik is renowned for pike in the upper-40-inch range and beyond. North Haven Resort lies a flight from Winnipeg, and guests arrive to 5-star treatment, along with superb fishing. The lodge boasts a haute cuisine, as well as conference room, fitness center, sauna, hot tubs, as well as satellite TVs and radios and top-of-the line Lund boats.
Contact: North Haven Resort, 866/531-3848, northhavenresort.ca
7 Wollaston Lake
Another staff favorite in northwestern Saskatchewan is massive Wollaston Lake, offering lots of outsize pike and fine lodging to supply creature comforts needed after goggle-eyed gators wear out your arms and back. Early on, sight-fishing is the way to go, while endless points, bays, and neckdowns hold feeding fish all through the seven weeks (maybe) of summer.
Contact: Minor Bay Lodge & Outpost, 888/244-7453, minorbay.com
; Wollaston Lake Lodge, wollastonlakelodge.com
8 Great Slave Lake
The Taltson River flows into vast Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America, exceeding 2,000 feet, and the 10th largest lake in the world by volume. Obviously few fish here have ever seen a lure and its cold waters grow huge pike as well as lake trout. Trout Rock Lodge is located in the North arm near Yellowknife. It's adorned with shallow glacial inlets where big gators maul spoons, swimbaits, and anything else they can get hold of. Expect many 40-inchers per day with a good shot at a 50.
Contact: Trout Rock Lodge, 907/375-6590; Enodah Wilderness Travel, 867/873-4334.
9 Taltson River
Meandering east, north, south, and west, this river finally empties into Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories on its south side. It's a favorite of In-Fisherman Field Editor Matt Straw and pike expert Jack Penny. Pike here are not only long (up to 50 inches or more) but remarkably thick-bodied, suggesting a rich diet of lake trout, whitefish, and grayling. Indeed some huge ones prowl cascades and waterfalls, creating incredible fast-water fishing. Take a bush plane from Fort Smith, which lies a 15-hour drive, or far shorter flight, from Edmonton or Calgary, Alberta, or Yellowknife, capital of the Territories. Rustic, but comfortable camping awaits visiting anglers.
Contact: Aurora Nights Lodge, 867/394-4001, auroranights.ca
10 Kasba Lake
Another star of the Far North is found where trophy anglers 'rock the Kasba, ' by annually recording hundreds of pike over 40 inches, many pushing 50, up to the 54-inch, 36-pound lake record. Further line stretching can be had with lake trout that may run 20 to 50 pounds. Moreover, the connected Kazan River offers incredible fishing for arctic grayling that commonly surpass three pounds. Kasba Lake Lodge offers fine accommodations just over the Manitoba and Saskatchewan borders in Nunavut, a direct flight from Winnipeg.
Contact: Kasba Lake Lodge, 800/663-8641, kasba.com
11 Nueltin Lake
Lying directly east of Kasba, Nueltin Lake offers another fine mix of giant pike, big lakers, and grayling. The pike record stands at 57 inches at this, Canada's first 'All Live Release ' fishery. Direct from Winnipeg, fly 740 miles to the lodge at the south end of the lake, where fine accommodations await visiting anglers. With countless islands, the lake also offers 30 inflows that attract fish year-round. Shallow bays offer the best bite early, transitioning to rocky points and deep weedlines in mid-summer.
Contact: Nueltin Fly-In Lodges, 800/361-7177, nueltin.com
12 Yukon River
North to Alaska, the Yukon River and its tributaries beckon big pike adventurers to huge fish that prowl bays and grassy backwaters. Fish over 30 pounds have been verified, so hold onto your tackle. Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures offers houseboat accommodations for a wilderness base camp, with guide boats to carry visitors to the action. Who says U.S. pike can't compare!
Contact: Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures, mstpa.com