January 31, 2018
In 20-plus years of traveling to Canada, my most recent trip to northern Manitoba was one for the record books.
Our destination: The Lodge At Little Duck, which connects to massive Nejanilini Lake and is located in the far northern stretches of Manitoba.
It's safe to state that I've never seen anything like the tundra landscape that surrounds the lodge. Barren landform with stunted trees gives way to treeless colorful flat terrain. Receding glaciers exposed granite outcroppings, covered in many areas by miles of sand, the larger area pitted with lakes and connected by mile after endless mile of rivers and streams.
Our primary target: trophy lake trout. The place is without debate 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 artic grayling and held out hopes for a few big northern to boot. A couple giant lakers and our wish list would be complete.
According to lodge manager Dave Fisher, "The waters of Little Duck and Neganilini 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."
Our mission was to explore the end of the seasonal fishing. By late August and into early September, hordes of lake trout move from the depths and push onto shallow rocky shoals and into stream mouths to get ready to spawn. We honestly caught multiple trophy lake trout every time we hopped in the boat. In fact, the lodge's records reveal that ON AVERAGE, each guest catches at least six Manitoba Master Angler fish.
According to Fisher, "We've been extremely consistent with our catch-and-release efforts over the past 40 years. Only a few smaller fish are allowed to be harvested daily for either shore lunch or dinner. The result of these conservation efforts is high numbers of trophy fish."
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). 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.
For grayling, I packed 7-foot medium fast-action spinning rods and my #5 weight G.Loomis fly rod. The fish seemed willing to eat anything buggy and I caught them on nearly every fly type. Conventional lures included tiny spoons and spinners, small 1/64- to 1/16-ounce jigs and softbaits. On windy days, we used a float and fly-casting bubbles that enabled us to cast light lures far enough to reach the current seams—plus the little bubble served as a strike indicator.
Pike, also were fans of the big soft plastic Sebile Magic Swimmers, as well as spoons and crankbaits. Casting for both pike and lakers, I used low-profile baitcasters and powerful flipping sticks.
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.
Exceptional fishing trip of a lifetime, indeed—The Lodge at Little Duck awaits.
For more information on fishing and lodging opportunities in Manitoba, visit their website.
The Lodge at Little Duck is an amazing place to catch loads of big lake trout, but fishing isn't the only option. September brings a migration of barren-ground caribou through the area. If you enjoy hunting, The Lodge at Little Duck is a great place to double-down on both activities. We were in camp with several groups doing this exact thing.
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