Author's note: This report refers to having previously caught a mountain whitefish before this trip. The aforementioned fish was actually a round whitefish. This trip along the Alaskan Highway was actually my first experience catching mountain whitefish.
Got back to Yellowknife late last night after a 14-hour drive from Muncho Lake, B.C. where Cara and I were enjoying a mini-honeymoon on the Alaskan Highway. Considering that, in the great scheme of things, it's not really that far away from home, I came back wondering why I didn't visit more often (I haven't been on the highway since I was nine years old 30 years ago). Cara and I only drove a small section of the highway through northern B.C., but what we saw was amazing: breathtaking scenes, craggy mountain tops rich with wildlife (and a few fish to boot!). I'm also happy to report that this section of highway -- from Fort Nelson to Liard Hotsprings -- is in tiptop condition, unlike the Liard Highway, our access point from the NWT into British Columbia, which connects to the Alaskan Highway after 160 miles through a remote northeast corner of B.C:
I have to say I'm pretty embarassed for our territory that we have roads like these, especially considering that the Liard Highway goes from ribbon of muck to beautiful blacktop the moment it enters BC. What gives? I have to ask. Why is the NWT treated like a third world country? Anyway, Cara and I got a brief reprieve at Blackstone Territorial Park, about an hour and a half from the B.C. border. It's the gateway to the Nahanni River, and there are some enormous burbot in the Liard River to which it connects (see Deh Cho trip report from last May). Cara and I did pretty well when we came last year around late May although we caught nothing gigantic then. The water was really high then and full of debris, which made it difficult to fish. We thought this time of year we would hit the jackpot, but alas only two very dinky burbot took our ciscoes.
I took this picture from the spot where Cara and I were fishing last year. Obviously, the water level on the Liard drops a lot during the summer -- I would guess about 15 feet here.
Also caught this guy, not really remarkable other than that it was my first northern pike from the Liard.
However, I did manage to catch this cool little flathead chub. It's been a few years since I've last seen one so I was happy for the re-acquaintance. Caught on a small piece of raw bacon.
It took a while to find some fish once we got to the Alaskan Highway but by and by we found a river that produced just after the tiny hamlet of Toad River, where else but on the Toad River. My first B.C. Arctic grayling. I would encounter a few dinkmaster sized grayling in these rivers over the next few days.
Also found lots of Rocky Mountain whitefish. Caught my first one this year, but got into quite a few more on this trip, including a nice big one -- another Panther Martin victim.
Some whitefish for dinner.
Did I mention the wildlife along the highway? Sheep, caribou, whitetail deer, bears, etc. The numb er of animals on the road made it a bit of a hazard but a delight to see.
Stone sheep -- they got crazy eyes
A mountain caribou swimming near our campground on Muncho Lake.
Cara and I stalked up close on this bull caribou
We also visited the Liard hotsprings. There are lake chubs swimming around in water that's about 80 degrees. There was a black bear attack at the hotsprings several years ago, and two people died. Obviously, the park is still pretty sensitive about it.
Lake chub in a Liard Hotsprings stream
I'm happy to report a new lifelister. I've been wanting to catch a dolly varden since I was a kid but they were just out of reach. Then biologists reclassified the char in this area as bull trout. No matter to me I was still stoked to catch them.
I didn't encounter any that were very big -- about a pound was the average but they were very interesting to look at nonetheless. Unfortunately, the B.C. government -- presumably on the advice of flyfishing trout anglers -- forbids the use of bait of any kind in this area. A pitty because we probably could've drummed up few more interesting catches in the area if we were allowed to soak some worms. Here's a few more bull trout pics.
Cara and I had an awesome time. We can't wait to make a longer journey and do some more exploring. We're already looking at some RVs. Simply put, an amazing place to visit.