February 01, 2019
By Matt Straw
Only the sky road can transport you to the northernmost reaches of Manitoba. From the air, the landscape is dotted with lakes and ribboned with streams. Fly far enough and the black spruce gives way to the desolate glory of tundra, where sea-run trout migrate in and out of Hudson Bay, grayling rise to a fly, and giant lake trout linger shallow all summer.
From dense boreal forests to sub-arctic tundra, northern Manitoba is defined by primal wilderness far beyond any roads. Those lakes and rivers far below your air-borne chariot team with trophy walleyes, pike, and lakers.
And a run of sea-run brook trout, massing by the thousands, is a once-in-a-lifetime sight to behold.
Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Hudson Bay Tributaries
Only a dozen people per year can experience one exclusive fly-in trip—up to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Here, during September, rivers and streams no human has experienced house countless numbers of migrating sea-run brookies that have never seen a fly. In spawning regalia, brook trout sport red-orange bellies. Their sides are adorned with bright red and blue spots. Some exceed 7 pounds. They’re aggressive, their strikes vibrate up the fly lines. Hooked fish are sometimes followed by the dozens of curious onlookers.
The sea-run brook trout of Hudson Bay live along salt-water shoals, not ranging far from the mouth of their native streams (which are numerous). Their environments are infertile, making them eternally ravenous. They are incredibly easy to see, and nothing is more exciting than sight fishing for the biggest trout in a school.
The perfect rod is a 6 weight, though a 5, 7, or 8 weight will suffice. Sometimes a woolly bugger is all you need, all day long, presented on a floating line. At times, a mouse pattern twitched on top results in explosive strikes. But any classic streamer, like the Mickey Finn or Deceiver, will get savaged here. Boreal brookies are seldom picky, especially when chased by only 12 anglers for only a few weeks per year.
You will travel by ATV to remote, untouched rivers to catch dozens of trout per day. Walking tours are arranged to view polar bears in native habitat. Wolves ghost through the black spruce and stunted birch. You may spot a moose, black bear—even an open-range grizzly bear. You’ll return to gourmet meals and retire in cozy, double-occupancy rooms. Or stay up to view the spectacular northern lights!
Fly in directly from Winnipeg to find professional, well-equipped guides, accommodations amazingly luxurious, meals uncommonly good, and great service.
Dunlop’s Lodge, Lake Waskaiowaka
In-Fisherman Editor Rob Neumann flew out of Thompson, Manitoba, last year to this classic fish camp known for trophy pike and abundant walleyes. This is big water. Located in north-central Manitoba, Waskaiowaka spits out 42- to 46-inch pike every day and, every now and then, a 50-inch, world-class, toothy monster.
“In August, we found pike holding along the edges of the vast cabbage beds that grow on the lake’s enormous flats,” Neumann said. “Most of the lake is less than 30 feet deep—perfect habitat for growing brute esox. The deepest green cabbage adjacent to the main basin held the real dandies. Grinding soft swimbaits like Sebile Magic Swimmer Softs with weighted wide-gap hooks and Svartzonker McTails over and through vegetation were consistent producers of monster pike.”
Walleyes are abundant in various rivers and mainlake areas, Neumann says. “The Little Churchill River near the lodge teems with walleyes,” he said. “Jigs tipped with plastic grubs, soft swimbaits, or ring worms are all you need to catch dozens of walleyes in short order. The Berkley Ripple Shad and other small paddletail swimbaits produced best. Smaller ones were kept for a classic shore lunch—fried fish, beans, grilled potatoes and onions prepared by the guide while we pitched baits along the shore.
“The cabins were great,” Neumann added. “The lodge was awesome for unwinding before dinner, after a long day on the water. Meals are prepared by a professional chef. Staff is friendly and the food is scrumptious. A fire pit outside the lodge on the shore of the lake is the perfect spot to gather and exchange fish stories with other guests, providing ideas and strategies for the next day. Which nobody could wait for.”
Dunlop’s has two outpost camps, one on Pelletier and another on Campbell Lake.
Gangler’s On The North Seal River
Ken Gangler loves fly fishing. From his gorgeous North Seal River Lodge on Egenolf Lake, Gangler has hosted fly-fishing legends like Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot to epic contests with four species of fish—trophy pike, bulging lake trout, feisty grayling, and tasty walleyes.
Of course, fly fishing isn’t mandatory. The usual big Eppinger Dardevles, Luhr Jensen Kwikfish, swimbaits, jigs, and cranks appeal to the massive lakers here. Specimens of up to 49 inches are caught here. Fish that size can challenge your endurance, strength, and sanity. And it’s not at all uncommon to put 100 lakers in the boat in the span of a day. Vertical jigging the North Seal can be an absolute blast.
Spinnerbaits, size #5 Mepps Spinners, Johnson Silver Minnows, swimbaits, and all the usual suspects appeal to the girth pike, which sometimes stretch out to 53 inches. Toothy giants cruise the cabbage beds around every lake and outpost.
Eskers 200 feet high and sub-arctic forests surround some of the best, least developed fisheries on earth. No other lodges, no roads for 200 miles, no communities, and no commercial fisheries can be found on the North Seal. In-Fisherman Associated Publisher George Large visited here in 2017, and hauled in the biggest lakers of his life. And the biggest pike. And grayling.
Amazingly, walleyes of 26- to 28 inches are a daily occurrence here—a rare phenomena this far north. The record for one day, one boat, was 408 walleyes. Baitfish swarm the shorelines of rivers, lakes, and weed beds. Walleyes can be found everywhere in pursuit.
Guests have five outpost camps to choose from, on five different bodies of water. The exquisite lodge on Egenolf Lake gets first class ratings all around—for fishing, service, and exemplary meals.
The Lodge At Little Duck Lake
Little Duck Lake is over 670 miles north of Winnipeg. Nestled along its banks in the heart of Manitoba’s subarctic wilderness lies the Lodge. The view is breathtaking as you approach a 4000 foot private airstrip in a twin turbo prop.
In-Fisherman Digital Editorial Director, Jeff Simpson, recently made the journey to Little Duck. “Our primary target were trophy lake trout,” he’s said. “No contest—Little Duck is one of the best spots in North America to catch numbers of monster fish. We also had a short wish list to catch some of the feisty and beautiful Arctic grayling and held out hopes for a few big northern to boot. But giant, hard-fighting lakers topped the list.
“Barren landform with small bushes and trees gives way to the colorful flat terrain,” Simpson said. “Receding glaciers exposed granite outcroppings, covered in many areas by miles of sand. The surrounding area is covered with lakes and connected by endless mile of rivers and streams.” Sounds like you could get lost here and love it.
Little Duck is adjacent to massive, famous Nejanilini Lake. According to lodge manager Dave Fisher, "The waters of Little Duck and Nejanilini Lakes along with the Wolverine River system are virtually untouched. Since we're the only lodge on the lake, our guests have over 300,000 acres of private waters to fish and explore without seeing any other boats other than folks staying at the lodge."
“Late-season lake trout offer one of the best opportunities in fly-in country for fast action for lakers that have moved into shallow water (4 to 12 foot),” Simpson said. “We packed enough lures to target fish shallow or deep and everywhere in between, but a handful of baits outperformed the others. Casting soft plastic swimbaits, like the 8-inch Sebile Magic Swimmer Soft worked amazingly well on the shallow reefs. And we caught a lot of big fish trolling the biggest spoons in the box, which included both the Eppinger 300 series Husky spoon and the Williams 6-inch Whitefish.
Pike ripped the big, soft Sebile Magic Swimmers equally well. “Spoons and crankbaits scored, too,” Simpson said. “And the experience is no less exhilarating back at the Northern Five Star lodge. Anglers and hunters gather to trade tales and get ready for dinner, which is served in grand style and with elegant presentation every evening.”
Gorgeous and exotic grayling thrive in the area’s streams. “I packed a 7-foot medium fast-action spinning rod and a #5 weight G.Loomis fly rod for grayling,” Simpson said. “The fish seemed willing to eat anything buggy and I caught them on every imaginable fly pattern. Grayling are great fighters on light tackle.”
Along with world-class fishing, spectacular scenery, exceptional lodging, meals and service, Little Duck is the northernmost lodge and a first-class destination.
Eager trophy grayling. Sea-run brook trout up to 10 pounds. Prodigious pike to 30 pounds and more. Behemoth lake trout over 40 pounds. Wilderness settings, exotic wildlife, gourmet food, Northern lights—fly-in trips of a lifetime. What are you waiting for?Contacts:Hunt Fish ManitobaNanuk Polar Bear LodgeDunlop’s LodgeGangler’s Lodge
The Lodge At Little Duck