For many, a trip to Great Bear Lake is likely to be a "once in a lifetime" experience, and unless you are an experienced Arctic traveler, preparing for a trip of this kind, takes a fair amount of thought and planning.
Environmental conditions can run to extremes, and changes in the weather are at times measured in minutes or hours, rather than days. It can get downright hot, and ice and snow are not unheard of throughout the short Arctic summer.
The fish you catch will challenge your skill and equipment in ways you may have never encountered, and if you happen to forget some critical item, like your medication or prescription glasses, it's one hell of a long walk to the nearest pharmacy or optician.
While our stay at Trophy Lodge would "officially" run from the 16h to the 23rd, we were compelled by circumstances to gather in Edmonton on the 14th. This was a precursor to flying to Yellowknife on the 15th where we would then catch the Plummer's Lodge charter to Great Bear on the 16th.
This particular fish story took place during my second visit to Great Bear in 1979.
We fished out of Branson’s Lodge in those days, which was located in Cameron Bay on the McTavish Arm.
The routine on our day of arrival was that after landing at the Port Radium strip, we were ferried over to the lodge by floatplane, enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch, received a briefing from owner Ernie Dolinsky, and then fished locally until dinner.
Perhaps because it is so isolated, and off of the main transportation and trade routes, not a great deal has been written about Great Bear Lake over the years.
Notations in the journals of various explorers and adventures constitute the bulk of the written record, but for the most part, these individuals were just passing through on their way to somewhere else. They rarely commented in much detail on the people who lived on and around the lake, or transcribed their feelings and thoughts about what impression that the big lake may have made upon them.
Great Bear Lodge - July 11 - 18, 2009
And So it Begins....
To be precise, the adventure began on July 10 when six of us gathered in Edmonton in preparation for heading off to Yellowknife and then to the main lodge on Great Bear.
Together with yours truly our group consisted of Art Ross, Ken Gold, Derek Ballantyne, Rodney Harback and his nephew Kevin. That gave us a cumulative total of well over 100 years of fishing on Great Bear - so there could be no excuses in the event we did not catch a truckload of big fish.