June 08, 2012
By Matt Straw
That is to say, the pike of Trout Rock just rock. The lodge is located on the north shore of Great Slave in the Northwest Territories. It's situated in the midst of a vast archipelago of islands that shield the many shallow bays here from the open water of Great Slave — one of the largest lakes in North America. It's like an "inter-coastal waterway" of sheltered, soft-bottomed bays, creating some of the finest pike habitat in the Territories or anywhere else. Guides and guests can boat for miles and miles through quiet water in boats designed with elongate fish and fly fishing in mind.
Great Slave proper was an endless plain of white today — still frozen despite several days of temperatures topping 80°F. It was gorgeous, but too windy for fly casting, so we pulled out spinning and casting gear to boat more than 20 pike between 40 and 46 inches. My travel partner, Ted Cawkwell (former owner of two Canadian lodges) said it was the finest day of pike fishing he'd ever experienced.
Our guide, Brian Spitzig (pictured above) sacrificed at least a pint of blood to the cause, gripping and unhooking over 200 pike for the two of us, with the average fish probably measuring close to 30 inches. All of the fish came from water 2 to 5 feet deep, and many of the strikes were up close and personal. Some were caught on the figure 8, and we were quickly disciplined to the task of watching for follows.
It truly was an exceptional day for stalking toothies on the waters of Great Slave. The wind made the water slightly turbid, while the chop and wind-driven currents seemed to shift every northern in the area into hyper drive.
The bait of choice was a firetiger Blue Fox , size #5 Vibrax with or without bucktail. We were drifting where we had some wind protection or dragging an anchor where we didn't. We kept the spinners close to bottom when we could, and most strikes were triggered by a change of direction or speed.
These might be the hardest-fighting pike I've ever experienced. The one pictured above zipped under the boat four times to initiate long, drag-screaming runs, forcing me to round the back of the boat with the rod tip submerged each time.
Vivid stuff. Tomorrow we're supposed to encounter some wet weather. I'm sure the bite and tactics will change. Stay tuned.