Call us toll-free at 1-800-661-6954

Welcome to The Fishin' Hole Canada's source for tackle and sport fishing equipment. Try us for all of your sportfishing needs...In store, on-line or toll free. You'll get hooked on the service!

New Water and Old Friends

 

Fishing has always been about more than fish for me. In our often too-busy lives, it’s also a wonderful occasion to reconnect with old friends, and to make new ones. So I was really tickled when the phone rang this past spring and it was Ed Houck on the other end. My relationship with Ed goes back some 25 years; each of us spent a great deal of our professional lives working for Ducks Unlimited Canada. We’ve since both moved on to other things, and Ed was calling to update me on his current position as the general manager of Ena Lake Lodge in northern Saskatchewan. Better yet, he was calling to invite me up to the lodge to experience the wonderful fishing there. Of course I said yes!

Not too much longer he called again to let me know who else would be attending. The list read like a who’s who of long-time Canadian fishing writers: Don Lamont, Gord Ellis, Brad Fenson and TJ Schwanky. We’ve all known each other for 30+ years, and have fished with each other at one time, or several, over the years. But it had probably been more than 20 years since we’d all been together at one time. Also joining us would be Dana White of Fatal Impact television fame, John, his cameraman, and Darryl Dahl, an avid outdoorsman and friend to many in the hunting and angling community. This was going to be fun!

Fishing is a great platform for reconnecting with old friends.

Fishing is a great platform for reconnecting with old friends.

Not having flown anywhere for more than a year due to COVID-related issues, it felt a little strange as we all gathered and said our hellos at the Edmonton airport prior to catching our chartered King Air that would whisk us to Uranium City. From there it was a 15-minute hop by a Caravan on floats into the lodge. After getting a quick tour of the facilities, my roommate for our stay, Gord Ellis, and I jumped into a boat with guide Josh to begin our exploration of the lake.

After more than a year of lockdown, it felt strange, but good, to be travelling again.

After more than a year of lockdown, it felt strange, but good, to be travelling again.

Ena Lake is relatively small for a lake trout water, only 27 kms from end to end. The shoreline is highly irregular and there are numerous islands, however, so there’s no shortage of fish-holding water. The ice had only been out for two weeks, and Josh cautioned that the lakers were still scattered, so we’d be trolling in a searching pattern looking for them. The fact they weren’t schooled didn’t bother Gord or I, as we were eager to catch up and simply enjoy the afternoon on the water.

As it turned out we managed to find fish, boating seven lakers in the six- to eight-pound class. Josh was a little disappointed we didn’t do better, advising us that the lake housed a healthy population of lake trout, including some reaching to 50 lbs, along with some large pike. Gord and I could not have been less concerned, we’d enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together.

Though not a large lake, Ena boasts a healthy population of lake trout, along with some big pike.

Though not a large lake, Ena boasts a healthy population of lake trout, along with some big pike.

Through the five days of fishing, the routine was similar. Up early for breakfast, on the water by 8:00 am, return to the lodge at noon for lunch, and then back on the water for the afternoon, usually calling it a day by 6 pm. We enjoyed a scrumptious shore lunch of fresh-caught lake trout one day, but I applaud the lodge’s conservation-minded approach to limiting shore lunches and the number of fish killed.

Is there any meal better than a shore lunch of fresh lake trout with all the fixings?.

Is there any meal better than a shore lunch of fresh lake trout with all the fixings?.

One of the niceties of Ena Lake, of which there are many, is not having to bring tackle. Every boat is equipped with new rods topped with Penn trolling reels with line counters, ideal for trolling, which is the preferred method for targeting lakers. The set-up was dead simple, depending on the depth we were targeting, a four-, six- or eight-ounce banana weight was affixed to the main line. Below the weight was a six-foot leader and snap-swivel. We used T60 Flatfish and Lucky Strike Canoe Wobblers or Half Waves most of the time. According to the guides, these were consistent producers that had proved themselves over the seasons. I didn’t spend much time fishing pike, but when I did, we were casting large spoons.


Another laker to net. Note the T60 Flatfish that was a staple lure.

Another laker to net. Note the T60 Flatfish that was a staple lure.

Over the days at the lodge we took turns fishing with one another. Before heading home I’d fished with all my old friends, a couple new ones, and with each of the lodge’s four guides. And what an accomplished group the guides were - all young professionals with a passion for fishing, a ton of experience, and a knack for customer service. Each made you feel like a long-lost friend in as little as a half-day in a boat together.

Ena Lake Lodge is taking a slightly different approach than most lodges in their operating framework. While they’ll always take retail customers, they’ve adopted a membership model that will see members receive preferred booking annually. They support this model by providing guests with the finest in meals, accommodations and equipment. The lodge chef is classically French-trained, so I wasn’t totally surprised that the meals and wines were all five-star. The guest cabins are clean and warm with private showers, and the main lodge is nothing short of magnificent. Beyond the top-flight tackle and boats (G3s with 40-horse Yamahas), each guest is provided boots and Simms rain gear, and their own locker in the communal tackle room.

The boats, tackle and related gear is all first-class at Ena Lake Lodge.

The boats, tackle and related gear is all first-class at Ena Lake Lodge.

And how was the fishing? I think it’s safe to say that while the guides were a little disappointed that the fish weren’t yet concentrated, we all managed to catch more than enough fish to keep us occupied and happy. Our best were in the mid-30s, chunky, good-looking and hard-fighting lakers to be sure, but not the mid 40-inch trout that Ena lake can and does relinquish every year. I followed the lodge’s FB page and saw evidence through the summer that those fish, indeed, are in the lake. Timing is everything I guess.

We caught numerous chunky lake trout, but Ena gives up fish nearing 50 lbs. every year.

We caught numerous chunky lake trout, but Ena gives up fish nearing 50 lbs. every year.

Still, I would have to rate my Ena Lake experience as one of the best fishing trips I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Long-time friends getting together to enjoy time on the water together.

Long-time friends getting together to enjoy time on the water together.

 

 

My greatest remembrances won’t be the opulence of the lodge, or the dozens and dozens of fish we landed, but rather the chance to spend time with old friends doing something we all love. It’s funny, but fishing has a unique way of making us forget about the fish.

 



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) New Water and Old Friends
(2) My McLeod
(3) Temperature and Trout
(4) On the Road Again
(5) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(6) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(7) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(8) Rollin’ on the River
(9) Windy Day Pike
(10) Cures for Cabin Fever
(11) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(12) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(13) A day on our foothill streams
(14) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(15) Fly Leaders
(16) In the Zone
(17) Learners Permit
(18) Flies of Summer
(19) Selecting the Right Boat
(20) The Italian Job
(21) Making a difference
(22) Pass the Salt
(23) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(24) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(25) Fall brings the big walleye out
(26) Hoppertunity Time
(27) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(28) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(29) Early Season Fly Fishing
(30) Walleye Logic
(31) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(32) Grammy’s Fish
(33) Top 10 Trout Lures
(34) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(35) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(36) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(37) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(38) There’s No Place Like Home
(39) A Golden Opportunity
(40) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(41) Un-matching the Hatch
(42) Alberta Super Bugs
(43) Glass is Back
(44) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(45) Speed Kills
(46) Entering the Twilight Zone
(47) Old Man River
(48) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(49) Small stream BT fishing
(50) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(51) In The Walleye Zone
(52) Zoo Trout
(53) Fly Selection for Beginners
(54) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(55) New Waters
(56) Big Bad Burbot
(57) Looking Back
(58) Out of Africa
(59) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(60) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(61) The Browns of Autumn
(62) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(63) Walleye Town
(64) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(65) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(66) Going With The Flow
(67) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(68) Swinging The Fences
(69) A View From The Aerie
(70) Dixieland Delight
(71) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(72) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(73) Montana's Cool Missouri
(74) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(75) Toothy Critters
(76) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(77) Top Ten Flies
(78) Northern Exposure
(79) Home Water Lessons
(80) Chicken Of The Sea
(81) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(82) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(83) Keep It Up!
(84) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(85) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(86) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(87) Hawg Holes
(88) Saltwater Salmon
(89) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(90) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(91) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(92) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(93) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(94) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(95) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(96) Fall Walleye
(97) Wet Flies
(98) Versatility the Key to Success
(99) Grayling of the Boreal
(100) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(101) Size Matters
(102) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(103) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(104) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(105) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(106) The Point Of It All
(107) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(108) Fall Fly Fishing
(109) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(110) Big River, Big Fish
(111) Bottom Bonanza
(112) Fishing Small Flies
(113) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(114) Four Seasons of the Bow
(115) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(116) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(117) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(118) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(119) Edge Walleye
(120) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(121) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(122) Four Corners – Four Waters
(123) Chasing Pothole Trout
(124) Springtime Stoneflies
(125) The Torrents of Spring
(126) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(127) Bust Them With Bait
(128) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(129) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(130) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(131) Terrestrials
(132) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(133) Rocky Mountain High
(134) Reading the clues
(135) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(136) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(137) Fly Fishing 101
(138) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(139) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(140) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(141) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(142) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(143) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(144) Trust Your Electronics
(145) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(146) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(147) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(148) Walleye can be Humbling
(149) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(150) Winter Flyfishing
(151) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(152) Hot Fall Pike Action
(153) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(154) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(155) Frequently Asked Questions
(156) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(157) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(158) Deep Water Perch
(159) Post Spawn Brookies
(160) A Fisher's Life
(161) The River's Last Stand
(162) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(163) Coho on the Coast
(164) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(165) Summer in the Mountains
(166) Peak Walleye Season
(167) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(168) Last Ice Rainbows
(169) The Burbot Event
(170) Tackle Matching
(171) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(172) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(173) The Lure of Brook Trout
(174) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(175) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(176) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(177) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(178) The Vesatile Plug
(179) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(180) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(181) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(182) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(183) Daily Fish Migrations
(184) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(185) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(186) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(187) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(188) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(189) The Fun in Ultra Light
(190) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(191) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(192) Never Stop Learning
(193) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(194) Jigging through the Ice
(195) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(196) Rainbows on Ice
(197) The Season of Ice Begins
(198) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(199) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(200) Facts On Cats
(201) West Coast Adventure
(202) June Walleye Frenzy
(203) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(204) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(205) Northern Exposure
(206) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(207) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(208) Man Overboard
Canada Boating License