The first lodge I'm reviewing is one special spot. Lac La Martre is a lake trout lake that holds some monster pike within its waters. The unique thing about Lac La Martre is its water color - actually, the lack of it. The water clarity in this jewel of a lake is unmatched by any other lake I've fished. In some of the bays it was gin clear and spotting pike was easy. This is sight fishing at its very best. Imagine, if you will, you're slowly cruising around a bay, spotting pike by the dozens. There's one about 10, there's a 12, that's a decent fish about 15, whoa, look at that one! That's got to be well over 20! And you cast to it. Bringing your lure past the monster about 3 feet in front of her, when wham! She's got it!
I visited Lac La Martre in the first week of July, accompanied by Pete Maina, his dad, Tex, and Pete's cameraman, Greg. Pete had his crew up there filming for the TV show The Next Bite. The scenario described above played out many times in the course of the week we were there and Pete filmed a great show scheduled to be on TV in 2012 on the Versus channel. Watch for it as there is some incredible footage.
The fishing at Lac La Martre is unlike any other place I've been. You are actually combining hunting with fishing there. When you cruise those gin clear bays, you are on the hunt. Spinnerbaits and spinners, soft plastics, bunny jigs and spoons all served me well.
For the angler who enjoys fly-fishing, this lake is a dream come true. These pike just cannot resist a bunny fly. I used a bunny lure I made that can be thrown with casting or spinning gear and it imitates the bunny fly well, but I think the flies might prove slightly more effective. I'll be working on some improvements for my bunny lure because I'm planning on returning to this gem as soon as possible.
For lake fishing, I would rate Lac La Martre right at the top of the heap. This was my second visit to this outstanding lake and I would have to say it is my #1 favorite lake to fish.
Aurora Nights Lodge
Taltson River, NWT
If it's luxury, creature comforts, or colored coordinated towels you're looking for, you might as well stop reading here. But if it's big pike mixed with wild beautiful country you're interested in, nothing tops the Taltson.
I've written about the fishing on the Taltson River many times and for good reason. Go into the article section of this website and read "River Paradise." It's pretty easy to figure why this is my favorite river to fish. Not only have I had my single best day here, plus my three biggest pike ever, I've also caught several world records on the Taltson.
I first fished the Taltson over 20 years ago and at that time the Taltson set the standard by which all others are compared. And very few ever met that standard. This is river fishing a its finest. In June of 2011, Mary and I traveled to the Taltson accompanied by John Cleveland of Eppinger and Matt Straw from the In-Fisherman to give the spring pike a go. Like Mary and I, these two guys have fished for pike in a great many locations. And both of my friends were very impressed.
I can tell you this much: I've been seriously chasing big pike for 35 years now and have fished in more locations than most. The pike swimming in the Taltson River are the toughest fighters I have ever encountered, bar none. It is rare to catch a skinny pike here. Heavyweight builds are the rule here, not the exception.
Here's what my friends had to say about the fishing on the upper Taltson River:
"The pike fishing on the Taltson River is a true trophy experience like none other I have had while pursuing this great aqua predator. These pike are born of a gene pool unique to the Taltson River. They are built like well trained athletes and have the fighting spirit of a prize fighter. They are big and they are mean! The fishing on the Taltson River is the best I have experienced in North America. Truly a world class fishery. Aurora Nights Lodge is a camp that speaks to those serious about trophy pike fishing." - John Cleveland, marketing director for Eppinger
"The physical characteristics of the Taltson River watershed seem designed to create giant pike. The genetics are obviously in place. Morphologically, the esox strain indigenous to the Taltson resembles European pike more than any I've seen in North America. These guys are deep, they have shoulders, and they fight harder than pike were ever meant to. Arising from such unique topography, and fighting current all their lives, why wouldn't they? The Taltson River is a fascinating pike-angling experience." - Matt Straw, 20 years plus with In-Fisherman
The late, great pike explorer, Bill Tenney, told me over 20 years ago, "For numbers of big pike you can't beat the Taltson River." Those words ring as true today as they did back then.
While this is not a fancy camp, the lodging is quite adequate. Nice little cabins with wood stoves, good home cooked meals, and a friendly staff. Add that to huge pike and what more do you need?
How about crafts? Both Eric and Kim Beck are both master craftsmen. Eric carves antlers into unbelievable works of art and Kim sews fur clothing items like mittens and hats. Both do very nice work.
Phone: (867) 394-4001
Fax: (867) 394-4622
Wollaston Lake Lodge
Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan
I had heard of this lake and its fantastic pike fishing for decades, but when Mary and I finally made it to Wollaston, it exceeded my expectations.
Let me first point out the fact that in over 35 years of visiting fishing camps all over the north, I have never seen a camp that operated as smoothly as this one. Like a well oiled machine! And everything here is 1st class all the way.
The lodging consisted of nice log duplexes with showers and a deluxe bed. There's room to lounge out in a living room that features a cool digital frame showing last year's fish, nature, and lodge photos. And a nice porch with chairs to sit on in the evenings.
Meals are served in the lodge. I use the term lodge loosely here. This place is more like a log castle! The main floor contains the kitchen and dining area and is accented with antique fishing lures on the walls. Very cool in my mind. Upstairs, there is a small bar and tables with a unique bumper shuffle board table. Another room features a theater setting with chairs and a big screen for satellite TV and movies. One thing that impressed me was a display case on the wall containing 2 of John Wayne's custom made fly rods along with a letter from Patrick Wayne. The Duke's fly rods!
The boats here are the nicest I've fished out of in any camp. Lund Pro V's with Yamaha 4 strokes. The casting deck was easily big enough for both Mary and I, something we're not used to in a camp. And those motors are quiet enough to allow conversation while cruising across the lake without yelling too.
The day before we arrived at Wollaston, a tornado ripped across Saskatchewan and the weather was very unstable for our entire stay there. Still, our guide Kenny was able to put us on plenty of fish including some big ones. With the wind changing direction nearly every half hour, the big pike were in a negative mood. We saw some huge pike that just would not hit anything we threw at them. Discussing it with owner Mike Lembke in the evening, he mentioned bunny strip jigs. I didn't have any along, but I gave Mike a few jigs and there were some expertly tied bunny jigs waiting for me the next morning right outside my door. Mike obviously knows his stuff as those jigs were the ticket to several pike over 40".
We only spent 4 days fishing at Wollaston, but it sure was a memorable experience. Absolutely a first class operation with friendly folks on the staff and great fishing to boot. I highly recommend Wollaston Lake Lodge.
Phone: (306) 668-1061
Toll free: 1-800-328-0628
Fax: (306) 668-1064