River Pike Paradise
It was mid September when fellow pike adventurer, Steve Dusek of Minneapolis, and I set out for one of our favorite pike locations, the Taltson River in the Northwest Territories of Canada. And an adventure it was.
Both Steve and I have somewhat of a history with the Taltson. This was the place discovered by the late, great piker, Bill Tenney, who talked to a guy in a tiny airport that told him about a trapper named Ray Beck that had trouble with giant pike tearing up his nets. At that time, Bill didn't tell just anyone about what he found there and only a select few knew much about it. And those of us included in this inner circle kept it quiet for the most part. Eventually, as always happens, word reached a mouth that couldn't keep quiet and it became known to many. Steve traveled there many times in the very early years to fish with Bill, Jan Eggers and a couple of other guys. A couple of years later, I started going there with Bill and both Steve and I have many trips to the Taltson under our belt. Jan Eggers, of Holland, wrote about the Taltson in the pages of Esox Angler a few years ago, calling it "the best spot on Earth for trophy pike." He has traveled to the Taltson many times from Holland and that is no short distance to go. Jan has fished for pike across the globe and is quite possibly the most traveled and dedicated piker in the world today or ever. To my knowledge, Jan has traveled to the Taltson River more times to fish for pike there than anyone alive. You can guess why he traveled so far and so many times.
When Ray Beck passed on, one of his sons took over the fishing camp, but a series of personal problems kept him from making it successful and eventually he lost the license. Most of us that were included in that "inner circle" of pike fishing friends thought they would never get to fish the Taltson again and that included me. But there was a light in the tunnel that we couldn't see. Ray's youngest son, Eric, entered the picture.
Eric Beck is a young man who is an image of his famous father. Ray was Canada's best musher and Eric is on is way to bringing that prestigious title back to the family. For those of you who don't know what a musher is, these people raise and race sled dogs, and take it very seriously.
Frank Grendler, a member of the circle, was the first to find out about Eric opening a new camp on the Taltson and traveled there in the fall of 2006 to check it out. Upon returning home, Frank told Steve and I about the opportunities there and sent us pictures of the pike he caught there. That was all it took. Steve and I contacted Eric to make arrangements to go there in the fall of 2007. I hadn't been that excited about going on a trip for many years.
When Steve and I arrived in the camp we could see that Eric had been very busy building his camp. There were new tent frame cabins built and the beginnings of more to be built. Now a word for any of you thinking about traveling to this fantastic fishing destination; this is not the place with a multi-million dollar lodge and maid service. No, this camp is on the rough side. Morning constitutionals are taken in an outhouse. Meals are eaten in the family cabin, although a dining cabin was being constructed at the time. Eric's wife, Kim, does the cooking and is very good at it. And there are many dogs in camp. Mostly sled dogs. In my mind, it was near perfect and ripe for adventure.
Now for the most important part, the fishing. Eric's license includes most of Ray's best spots, but goes much further upstream to areas where Ray never took any fishermen. In other words, virgin water! Frank Grendler was the first to wet a hook in many of these spots, but Steve and I pressed even further than Frank and we can say we were the first to make it to the last set of falls. However, there are still lots of spots we didn't fish so there is still new water awaiting. And the pike? Well, I've said it many times before; the pike in the Taltson area are the toughest, hardest fighting pike I have found anywhere. And it hasn't changed. The pike we caught were all very thick, some almost to the point of being obese. But it just seems to add to their strength.
We caught big pike on almost everything we tried. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, spoons, and crankbaits all produced well. Steve landed some of the biggest using large plastics until they got destroyed.
Our best areas were ones below rapids or falls, and behind boulders. Retrieving up the current seam with gliding jerkbaits like a Magic Maker proved very productive below the falls areas. I also did well retrieving a Squirrley Jake up that same seam. The current moves pretty well in this river and it is easy to spot these seams. At times, we could cast right into the boiling froth at the base of the falls with spinnerbaits and spoons and they'd hammer them. A white Pearson's Grinder I had got a great workout. There are boulders sticking out of the river all over the place and provide great ambush spots for the pike. We found the slack water side of many of these big rocks held huge fish. Usually there were only a few big fish holding there and not every rock held fish, but the ones that did gave up some giant pike. The best ones were in areas of good current.
I've been fishing at the Taltson River during all open water seasons in the past and have never failed to have great fishing, although some trips have been better than others. If I were pressed to name a favorite season, I guess I'd choose late fall. The pike are at their heaviest of the year and the scenery's outstanding. In the past, late fall on the Taltson produced not only my single best day of pike fishing with 9 over 20 pounds, but also my 3 biggest pike to date, all over 29 pounds. I have fished a great number of top pike waters in the last 32 years and for the last 17 years, the Taltson River set the standard by which all others are measured.
Eric and Kim Beck can be contacted at 867-394-4001. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.