May 19, 2023
By David A. Brown
Flying into remote fishing destinations always flutters the heart with gleeful anticipation, as the mind conjures images of breathtaking scenery and personal best moments. The flight into Tazin Lake Lodge levels up the exhilaration and transports eager anglers into one of Canada’s most amazing fisheries where the scenery astounds, and the locals grow large.
Most fly into Fort McMurray International Airport, where lodge staff welcome guests onto an amphibious caravan for the flight to the secluded island that Tazin Lake Lodge calls home. The trip takes about an hour and a half, with aerial views serving mental appetizers for the forthcoming main course—giant lake trout.
“Generally, everybody who fishes here gets a personal best lake trout, or something over 35 pounds,” said Brett Amundson, host of the locally produced Tazin TV Youtube channel. “It’s a trophy fish factory.”
Knowing the Northern Saskatchewan region’s rich history of exploration and mining, Amundson said the flight into Tazin Lake Lodge offers a blend of education and ambiance. Spotting old mining settlements is common, but the natural features take center stage.
“On your flight in, you’ll pass over Lake Athabasca and on the lake’s south shore, you’ll fly over the Athabasca Sand Dune Provincial Park,” Amundson said. “It’s over 60 miles of shoreline on the lake’s south side.
“It’s one of the most northerly active sand dunes in the world. That’s definitely one of the highlights for guests when they come in.”
Passing Lake Athabasca, arriving guests notice the landscape shifting into a high, rocky character. Rising above these geological features reveals Tazin’s shimmering splendor and readies the heart for immeasurable thrills.
As Amundson explained, Tazin Lake’s deep, clear waters and huge forage base with burbot, ciscos and sculpin favors enormous growth rates. With no commercial netting and a strict catch-and-release policy for trophy class fish, it’s no wonder this angling wonderland continues to crank out impressive quantity and quality.
“The appeal is the sheer size of these fish,” he said. “There’s only a few lakes in this region where you can catch potentially world record caliber fish. In 2019, a guest caught a lake trout that was estimated at 72 pounds (via the length/girth calculation).
“It’s a special place. What draws people to this lake is the size of the trout—and northern pike. We usually get a 50-inch northern pike every year. I caught one there two summers ago and we have a lot of them.”
Notably, a short fishing season of mid-June to mid-September and no ice fishing minimizes the annual fishing pressure. This keeps the fish largely uneducated and eager.
“They’re voracious eaters and so aggressive,” he said. “They’re just so much fun to catch.”
Covering approximately 35 1/2 square kilometers, Tazin Lake boasts broad areas with depths of 100-400 feet, with a plunging 900-foot hole. As Amundson explained, a massive hydrological project in the 1930s produced hydro-electric dams to power the regions vast mining operations and raised the lake level about 14 feet.
“Most of Saskatchewan is pretty flat, with prairie in the South, but when you get into the northern end of the province, you get these really high hills of Precambrian rock that tower 200-400 feet over the lake,” he said. “These hills and lots of pine forest surround the lake like a stadium. This makes it very scenic and only accessible by plane.”
Continuing beneath the water’s surface, this sharp, jagged rock structure provides great habitat for big predators to ambush their meals. With several rivers flowing in and out of the lake, current keeps the feeding dynamics fresh.
One of Tazin’s most recognizable features, Laird Island, divides the lake roughly divides the main lake into four quadrants so you’ll always find a leeward area to fish, regardless of wind direction. Moreover, the sizable King Lake on Laird’s southwest side is accessible by boat, so anglers can drive right in to explore a unique fishing opportunity with loads of big lake trout and pike.
While “eater” size lake trout often roam the shallows, he said the most effective technique for the giants involves trolling big crankbaits, spoons, and swimbaits. Rigging with 50- to 60-pound braid and a linking a 50- to 60-pound fluorocarbon leader with a heavy-duty swivel helps ensure you catch what bites.
“We’ll use weights to get the baits down to the bottom and troll them along the drop-offs on the edge toward the shallows,” he said. “It just depends on where the fish are.” Big trout also fall for in-line spinners, while calm days offer great opportunities to vertically jig 30- to 60-foot holes. Downsizing to medium tackle offers big fun with midsize fish.
Pike anglers will enjoy the shallow water game with warm spawning bays, weedy pockets and river habitat. Amundson said the sight-fishing opportunities are an absolute blast, as giant pike readily gobble shallow-running crankbaits, LiveTarget jerkbaits, in-line spinners, spoons, and topwaters. Fly fishermen will also score big with streamer flies.
“It’s like hunting,” he said. “These fish don’t see lures very often.”
For a diverse experience, Tazin Lake Lodge also offers fly-out trips for walleye and arctic grayling.
Amundson said the Tazin Lake Lodge strategy is based on maintaining a small footprint that minimizes fishing pressure and maximizes each guest’s experience. Comfortable private cabins offer all the requisite creature comforts, while satellite TV and Starlink internet allow whatever connections you may want.
A talented chef keeps mealtime enjoyable and filling, while fishing guides offer unforgettable shore lunches on tranquil islands. Fried pike or lake trout, “Tazin fries,” and baked beans plus unbeatable scenery—can’t beat it.
From experience, he said: “Everything tastes better when you’re enjoying fresh fish on shoreline in Canada.”
For information, visit: TazinLake.com.