Don Wiggan's 2016 Great Bear Trophy Lodge Experience
Written by Harold
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Another Trip Of A Life Time is over; this year was one of the most amazing of all the 30 years of fishing in the North.
I was fortunate enough to fish the number one and number two best lakes on the Planet for Lake Trout. First I was fishing on The East Arm of Great Slave Lake for 16 days and then I flew to Great Bear Lake for my second year at Plummer's Trophy Lodge. Last year at Bear was so incredible that I just had to go back.
Not only the friends I met but also the fish I met were like nowhere else.
The journey from Yellowknife to Great Bear Lake began at 8:30am on a Dash 7, a 4-prop beast that would take me and the other guests on the two-hour flight to Bear.
As I peered out the window into the clear aqua coloured water of the fourth largest lake in North America, I was sure I could see Trophy Trout swimming around and I started dreaming of the battles ahead.
The plane did a low fly pass over the dirt runway hopefully checking for Muskox or anything else on the runway. Then with a loud bang we put down on the rough dirt that was in full bloom with fireweed.
We were greeted by Dan the manager, the new guides and old ones I had made friends with last year.
It was a short boat ride to the lodge where all my stuff was waiting for me in the lobby. Lunch was then served in the dinning room.
I got my lucky room from last year at the end of the hall, it was perfect for post fishing cocktail hour. I quickly unpacked and was putting together a rod and reel as Carl Lanciaux my guide came into the room to announce that we should go to the X Files this afternoon because the water is calm, so any chance to get out to the X Files must be taken advantage of.
I threw my stuff together and met him at boat #8.
Carl has been a guide on Bear for a lot of years and it was so great to have him guiding the boat through the giant waves. We had to travel 25 kilometres from the lodge to the The X Files, which is the best spot to fish for big Hogs.
It sure was nice to get off the plane, sit down to a hot lunch prepared for you, and then be out fishing in the number one best spot for Lakers in the world that same afternoon.
I was solo this year so Carl was driving the boat as well as fishing, which meant I netted and handled his fish, which was a lot of fun.
We started trolling my old GPS tracks from last year where we had caught big fish. We trolled for quite a while with no hits.
Then as Carl was doing one of his patented power Zig Zags with the motor my rod buckled over and I had what felt like a big fish on. After a bunch of crazy head shakes I managed to get it up to the boat and Carl netted a 35-pound Trophy Trout. Not bad for a few hours of fishing on the first afternoon.
The next day the weather was perfect, another chance to head out to The X Files, so we zoomed out and were fishing by noon.
Noon and 4:30pm seemed to produce big fish every day.
I was running 30-pound mono on my Takota Reel with a 6 oz. keel weight to 60-pound flora carbon leader with a 100 lb. ball bearing swivel.
Lures of choice at Bear are the T 60 or an Eppinger Spoon. I was adding a herring tail to the barbless treble hook, which seemed to seal the deal. We trolled for hours without a bite. It really is a needle in a haystack!!
Then as I was banging the sand bottom with my big weight my rod bent over and my line started to peel out. I had another big fish on at The X Files in two days!
This monster trout had my 8 foot rod bent straight down as Carl spun the boat around to give me the best chance to reel the Hog up.
Finally we saw the giant shadow come up from the depths and it was a beautiful 41 pound Laker.
Carl netted it like a pro, weighed it and got it back into the water as soon as possible. The guides are very careful with the fish, all lures are barbless and fish are weighed in the net, then a quick hug and release picture and back into the water to get bigger. It is so amazing watching the big old trout swim away like a shark!!
One day we planned to have shore lunch with all the other boats. On the way to Echo Beach for lunch we trolled a good-looking rubble beach.
My Mother of Pearl Eppinger went off and to our surprise the 26 - pounder had a big fish stuck in its mouth. It looked like the tail was too big for the trout to swallow. Then it was off to Echo Beach where the guides proceeded to cook up fresh fish every which way. Frenchie (Carl) even made French fries that were to die for.
Breakfast was at 7:30am and the guides were ready at the dock by 8am. Carl and I were always the last ones out and the first ones back. It seemed to work!
Carl and I both caught our personal best on the trip and had a lot of fun doing it.
There is so much more at Plummer’s Trophy Lodge than the fishing. There is the pristine wilderness where you never know when you might see a Grizzly, Muskox, Moose, Caribou, or Wolf as well as all kinds of different bird species.
The feeling of being at the mercy of Mother Nature, and that she can make or break your fishing dreams is so over powering.
Knowing that your small group are the only people on the lake for miles and miles is like a step back in time. Drinking 40-degree water out of a lake that is so clear you can see the bottom many feet below is so special.
The food is another one of the attractions. Chef Mike was back this year and did a great job of changing up the menu for every meal. Breakfast always had bacon! Dinner was always fun, all the guests would sit around one big table and tell fish tales from the days adventures.
This year we had an interesting mix of people from England, Germany, USA and Canada.
Thursday night is the wine and cheese party where everyone gets together, management, guides and guests. This year everyone ended up at Guide Land for a horseshoe tournament that lasted into the early morning. The highlight was when one of the guys from England, who had never played before sliced a horseshoe into the crowd ... too funny. Nobody got hurt except for some hungover fishermen in the morning.
Friday, the last day of fishing, is known as Big Fish Friday, and again this year it lived up to its name!
We slept in because it was windy and raining in the morning, and we were a little tired from the night before. The wind and rain stopped around noon so we had our last chance to go fish the X Files.
Pounding through the rollers was hard on my back but we made it out to the X Files and dropped our lines. Big Fish Friday was by far the best action of the trip.
Again this year I caught my personal best on the last day of the trip. It was a massive 47 pound orange finned beauty that battled like no other fish I have fought before. It had my rod buckled straight down below the boat. I could not move the beast.
Carl maneuvered the boat so I had a better chance at getting it up but as those big fish always do it gave a massive headshake when it saw the boat. I hung on for dear life as the grandfather trout tried to spit my T 60. I managed to survive the headshake and get the giant head of the fish into the net, which Carl masterfully dipped under the fish.
That afternoon I also caught a 39 pounder, Carl got a 33 pounder, and we hammered a lot of big fish all around 19 pound range on the X Files.
We could have caught more but decided to be the first ones back as usual. So we thanked the Fish God and headed back to the lodge for the last time on the beautiful calm silver water.
The long boat ride back to the lodge left lots of time to think about the great time and all the large fish. I caught a 47, 41, 39, 35, 26, 23 and Carl got a 36 and a 33 pounder. We caught so many in the 19-pound range I lost count.
If you love fishing as much as I do there really is nothing like trolling around Great Bear Lake knowing there could be a world record Lake Trout looking at your lure. But it is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack!
Great Bear is not for the faint of heart! Big water, big waves, big weather, big animals, big bugs, big fish, big stories, big personalities, and Big Money. But worth every penny!!
Another Trip Of a Life Time to Plummer’s Trophy Lodge has come and gone. It truly is the best on the planet!
Thanks to the management and staff of Plummer's Arctic Lodges for making another fishing dream come true.