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There’s No Place Like Home

 

As anglers it's in our DNA to dream of big fish, exotic places and waters where fish bite on every cast. Many have a bucket list describing those dreams in fine detail. For some that may include a massive blue marlin rocketing skyward, reminiscent of the best of Hemingway's tales. For others it could be a Bahamian bonefish ripping into the backing as it races for the mangroves, a toothy tigerfish smashing a topwater lure on the Zambesi River, or a leg-long brown trout sipping a dry fly before bolting seaward down a remote Patagonian river.

I find it a little puzzling, however, that so many anglers dream exclusively of faraway fishing adventures, not realizing that some of the world's best and most exciting fishing destinations are found here in Canada. So before you turn your eyes to the globe, give a little more thought to what I consider seven fishing adventures worth dreaming about that are found right here at home.

New Brunswick Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon fishing has a great legacy of time-honoured traditions and Canadian anglers are blessed with some of the finest salmon rivers in the world. Tops among them is New Brunswick's famed Miramichi. It has an annual run of salmon approaching 100,000, the largest on the continent, and is reportedly responsible for 50% of Canada's rod-caught salmon each year.

Fly-fishing Atlantic salmon is an adult's game. This is fishing with a purpose; every cast must be precise, every swing of the fly followed with clear-eyed intensity. The first time out you usually get your butt kicked. All you can do is dust yourself off and try again. And again. Eventually, if you're persistent enough, you'll hook a fish. Maybe you'll land it, maybe you won't. Inevitably, however, you'll fall in love with Atlantic salmon fishing.

The Miramichi is said to give up 50% of Canada's rod-caught Atlantic salmon every year.

The Miramichi is said to give up 50% of Canada's rod-caught Atlantic salmon every year.

Plummer's Lodge on Great Bear Lake

Nothing personifies the Canadian wilderness experience like fishing for lake trout, and the very best lake trout fishing is found on the NWT's vast Great Bear Lake. There, Plummer's Lodge, in operation since 1950, is the go-to destination. Great Bear is huge, the fourth largest lake in Canada, and given that it sees only a few hundred anglers each year, there are countless lake trout that get through their entire lives without ever once seeing a hook. 30-pound fish don't earn a second look here, and 40- to 50- pound fish are landed weekly, if not daily. Plummer's guides, equipment, accommodations and services are all best-in-class.

Plummer's Lodge on Great bear Lake is the go-to lodge for big lake trout.

Plummer's Lodge on Great bear Lake is the go-to lodge for big lake trout.

Fraser River Sturgeon

The white sturgeon of the Fraser River is the largest fish found in the fresh waters of Canada; that's reason enough to make this list. Add in the fact that when hooked they become aerial acrobats, as mind-boggling to imagine as it is fascinating to witness.

The white sturgeon is one of the most prehistoric fish still with us, dating back to the Upper Cretaceous period. They're not an attractive fish in the typical sense, but are exotic, awe-inspiring and have the potential to grow to an immense size, including a documented record of a 1387-pound fish taken out of the Fraser in August, 1887. Fish in the 50-200 pound class are caught daily and reports come in with surprising frequency of sturgeon estimated to weigh in excess of 500 pounds.

Red River Channel Cats

While their licence plates may read "Friendly Manitoba", some residents aren't following the script. They're belligerent, rude, bullying, confrontational and at times downright mean. Friendly? Not a chance. I'm referring to Manitoba's channel catfish, those knuckle-busting, tackle-wrecking leviathans that leave anglers bruised and battered from the encounter.

If you want to battle one, the Red River is the place to be, with 90% of the annual Master Angler awards handed out for catfish caught there. Red River cats average 15 pounds plus, with monsters approaching 40 pounds caught annually. An 85-cm cat will weigh 20 pounds on average, and there's lots of them. If we assume that 75% of anglers register their fish in the Master Angler program, there are at least 10 catfish of 20 pounds or better landed every day between May 1 and August 1. And most of these come out of a stretch of river less than ten miles long! Now that's a trophy fishery!

Master Angler-qualifying catfish are caught on a daily basis through the summer on the Red River.

Master Angler-qualifying catfish are caught on a daily basis through the summer on the Red River.

Lake of the Woods Muskies

Muskellunge, or "Muskies" as most call them, are the reclusive big brothers of the widely distributed northern pike. Though they may look similar, that's where the comparison ends. Muskies are known as the "fish of 10,000 casts" for good reason, even in the best waters anglers can spend days and even weeks searching before hooking into one. But if you're hell-bent on catching a muskie, Ontario's Lake of the Woods is the place to go.

The immense lake is an angler's dream, with countless islands, reefs and bays that are home to a surprising number of fish species. There, lurking in the cool depths, you'll find muskies taking advantage of the abundance and diversity of prey. To hook one requires perseverance and patience, and when you do you'll be tested to the limits of your tackle and your angling skills. Muskies are the ultimate Canadian freshwater predators - are you up to the challenge?

Lake of the Woods is Canada's premier destination for muskies.

Lake of the Woods is Canada's premier destination for muskies.

B.C. Coast Salmon

They aren't rare, but at times can be challenging to find. They're not huge, although some can grow to 50 pounds and more. And they're not especially impressive fighters, though they seem to slip the hook at the last moment with irritating regularity. No, what makes west coast salmon fishing a "must do" adventure is the beautiful seascape they call home and how immensely satisfying they are on the plate.

There are five species of salmon plying the waters of B.C.'s coast, but it's largely the coho and the spring salmon that attract anglers. They're family-friendly fish, so do yourself a favour and at least once book with one of the many lodges offering trips; there are options for all budgets. What doesn't change according to the size of your wallet is the natural beauty of where you'll be fishing or the table quality of the exquisite fillets you'll be taking home.

The beauty of the west coast and fine table fare are the big attractants for B.C. salmon anglers.

The beauty of the west coast and fine table fare are the big attractants for B.C. salmon anglers.

Any Northern Canadian Fly-In Lake

From Labrador to the Rocky Mountains and north to the Arctic circle, Canadians have easy access to fly-in fishing that make your angling dreams a reality. Best of all, you don't have to break the bank. Whether you want to chase lake trout, walleye, northern pike, brookies, bass or a host of other species, there's a fly-in that will be just right for your budget.

Every angler should consider a fly-in adventure to one of Canada's northern lakes.

Every angler should consider a fly-in adventure to one of Canada's northern lakes.

You can choose from a variety of service options, including fully- or self-guided and complete meal packages or cooking for yourself. Some folks appreciate being taken care of from start of day to end, while others prefer a more DIY experience. What all offer, however, is the opportunity to fish remote waters teeming with fish that see very few anglers. Whether with a bunch of buddies looking for a summer getaway, or as a family vacation, fly-in fishing trips are packed full of adventure and fishing excitement. As the saying goes, "Just Do It!"



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) Fall brings the big walleye out
(2) Hoppertunity Time
(3) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(4) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(5) Early Season Fly Fishing
(6) Walleye Logic
(7) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(8) Grammy’s Fish
(9) Top 10 Trout Lures
(10) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(11) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(12) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(13) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(14) There’s No Place Like Home
(15) A Golden Opportunity
(16) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(17) Un-matching the Hatch
(18) Alberta Super Bugs
(19) Glass is Back
(20) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(21) Speed Kills
(22) Entering the Twilight Zone
(23) Old Man River
(24) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(25) Small stream BT fishing
(26) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(27) In The Walleye Zone
(28) Zoo Trout
(29) Fly Selection for Beginners
(30) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(31) New Waters
(32) Big Bad Burbot
(33) Looking Back
(34) Out of Africa
(35) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(36) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(37) The Browns of Autumn
(38) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(39) Walleye Town
(40) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(41) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(42) Going With The Flow
(43) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(44) Swinging The Fences
(45) A View From The Aerie
(46) Dixieland Delight
(47) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(48) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(49) Montana's Cool Missouri
(50) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(51) Toothy Critters
(52) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(53) Top Ten Flies
(54) Northern Exposure
(55) Home Water Lessons
(56) Chicken Of The Sea
(57) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(58) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(59) Keep It Up!
(60) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(61) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood
(62) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(63) Hawg Holes
(64) Saltwater Salmon
(65) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(66) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(67) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(68) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(69) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(70) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(71) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(72) Fall Walleye
(73) Wet Flies
(74) Versatility the Key to Success
(75) Grayling of the Boreal
(76) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(77) Size Matters
(78) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(79) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(80) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(81) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(82) The Point Of It All
(83) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(84) Fall Fly Fishing
(85) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(86) Big River, Big Fish
(87) Bottom Bonanza
(88) Fishing Small Flies
(89) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(90) Four Seasons of the Bow
(91) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(92) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(93) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style
(94) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(95) Edge Walleye
(96) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(97) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(98) Four Corners – Four Waters
(99) Chasing Pothole Trout
(100) Springtime Stoneflies
(101) The Torrents of Spring
(102) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(103) Bust Them With Bait
(104) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(105) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(106) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(107) Terrestrials
(108) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(109) Rocky Mountain High
(110) Reading the clues
(111) Where the Trout Are: The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.
(112) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(113) Fly Fishing 101
(114) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(115) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(116) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(117) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(118) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(119) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(120) Trust Your Electronics
(121) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(122) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(123) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(124) Walleye can be Humbling
(125) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(126) Winter Flyfishing
(127) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(128) Hot Fall Pike Action
(129) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(130) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(131) Frequently Asked Questions
(132) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(133) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(134) Deep Water Perch
(135) Post Spawn Brookies
(136) A Fisher's Life
(137) The River's Last Stand
(138) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(139) Coho on the Coast
(140) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(141) Summer in the Mountains
(142) Peak Walleye Season
(143) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(144) Last Ice Rainbows
(145) The Burbot Event
(146) Tackle Matching
(147) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(148) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(149) The Lure of Brook Trout
(150) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(151) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(152) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(153) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(154) The Vesatile Plug
(155) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(156) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(157) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(158) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(159) Daily Fish Migrations
(160) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(161) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(162) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(163) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(164) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(165) The Fun in Ultra Light
(166) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(167) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(168) Never Stop Learning
(169) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(170) Jigging through the Ice
(171) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(172) Rainbows on Ice
(173) The Season of Ice Begins
(174) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(175) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(176) Facts On Cats
(177) West Coast Adventure
(178) June Walleye Frenzy
(179) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(180) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"
(181) "Northern Exposure"
(182) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(183) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(184) Man Overboard