My brother-in-law Corey and I have been talking about a visit up North for a while and it finally came to pass earlier this week. He too is an avid angler but more accustomed to two or three pound bass, and the occasional muskie in his native Ontario, not fish after fish averaging 10 pounds or more. That was about to change last Saturday as we and friend Rohan headed up to the big pike and inconnu waters above the North Arm of Great Slave Lake.
Longtime Roughfish members will recognize these locations as I've reported on them several times over the past few years. The difference this time is that I finally took my own boat -- something I've just never been brave enough to do. There's just something about traveling 20 miles over water as clear as milk and four feet deep at 30 miles an hour that's a bit unnerving, especially with an outboard. Keep it on step I guess. That's the safest way.
Anyway, Cor tied into a 44-inch pike with a 24-inch girth on his first cast
I got an almost identical sized fish on my first cast. Both of us were using heavy spinning rods spooled with heavy braid for the pike.
Trophy pike have big tails
The weather unfortunately was not very good. This summer was the driest in living memory. It only rained three or four times. Come the end of August though one can count on lots of rain in the Northwest Territories.
The size of pike was generally much smaller this time. Many in the mid-to high 30-inch class but not many over 40 inches. The inconnu fishing was absolutely insane though. The fish are stacked 20 feet deep on this stretch of water.
Rohan lands a nice one
I got a few nice ones too
Corey got the biggest coney of the trip -- perhaps the biggest I've seen at the inconnu pool. We should've measured it. The fish was well over 40 inches long and very fat.
Possessed by a love of hardcore big fish fishing
An interesting aspect of this spot is the abundance of predators that frequent there. It can make for some interesting camping but for the most part the animals come for the inconnu that stack beneath the rapids on their way up the river during their spawning run. That's where wolves and bears can be seen fishing. I haven't seen anything like in news or nature.
This wolf was one of at least two that came up the river and stopped to check us out.
Never fails to see a black bear fishing for coneys at the rapids.
We were going to stay an extra day and head to another lake but owing to the failing weather and my fear of jamming my boat on some invisible rock, we decided to cut our losses and head back to town with a plan to drive three hours the next morning to explore rumors that the walleye were running on the Mackenzie River. As I should've come to expect, no walleye were encountered. Only several half-pound fartknocker pike. We did find the skull of what would've been an impressively sized pike.
On the drive down we got to a chance to survey the damage of this summer's crazy forest fire season. This one burned an area the size of Massachusetts. Corey stands by the entrance of was my favorite grouse hunting spot off Highway 3.
The next morning I took Corey to the Yellowknife River where he could try for a lifer lake whitefish. I had tied a bunch of beaded hooks for the occasion and they did not disappoint.
As usual, there were other anglers there -- even on a Tuesday. We were catching piles of whitefish while others were only managing a few. It was a further testament to their fastidiousness and the need for a perfect beaded hook. Black and red beads with red wire seems essential if you want a consistent bite.
The pike were waiting for the whitefish too. A few came out and fought us for our fish.
Overall a great day and a great trip.