Everybody knows that if you want to catch big Northern
pike, you've gotta go pike fishing in Canada, and in the heart of Canada,
lies the province of Manitoba. Manitoba has a huge reputation for producing
big Northern pike. With barbless hooks being provincial law since the
summer of 1990 and the province's promotion of catch and release being
second to none, it's no wonder the fishing just keeps getting better.
Fly-In Fishing Lodge & Outposts is where several
50"+ monster Northern Pike have been caught! We produce hundreds
of 41"+ Trophy Northern Pike every year.
The Canadian Northern Pike is the most sought-after
game fish in this part of the country. With their great strength, they
can provide one thrill of a fight, many times ripping apart lures, leaders,
line and occasionally even rods and reels get blown apart. The ability
to sight-fish these huge Northern pike in shallow water and being able
to see the strike on your lure is truly the most exciting part.
Waskaiowaka has no shortage of trophy
Northern pike. Here, every time you step into the
boat, you have a realistic chance of catching a true trophy fish. In Manitoba,
the minimum requirement to qualify a Northern pike in the Master Angler
Program is to catch one at least 41 inches in length. At Dunlop's Lodge,
we consistently catch Northern pike well over the required length. Every
day, there are pike caught that range 42" to 46", even a few
50+" monster Northern pike were caught and released back into the
When is the best time to come and fish in Canada?
This is probably the most commonly-asked question
people inquire about when looking at booking a trip for the first time.
This is a good question as you are spending a lot of money and don't want
to be disappointed with your trip. This far north you get spring fishing,
summer fishing and fall fishing all in a three to four month period and
the rest of the time the lake is frozen over. With such a short season,
the fish are constantly on the move and the hotspots are changing every
This little guide might help you see what the fish
are doing and what kind of fishing you can expect at different times of
* PRE-SPAWN: (Usually
around the last week in May or the first week in June.) This takes place
as soon as the ice is off the lake and is great for numbers of fish. Many
pike can be caught in the shallow water while they are moving towards
the spawning areas. Males are a lot more active than females but the big
trophy females can still be caught with little enticement.
*SPAWN: (This is within 14 days after ice-out...usually
first or second week in June.) The spawn is triggered by increased water
temperatures and longer daylight. This only takes a day or two and they
are not likely to hit lures. Fortunately, not all pike in the lake spawn
at the same time, you can have the pike in one bay spawning and in the
next bay they are still biting.
*POST-SPAWN: (Around the second week in June.)
At this time the males are more active and can be caught on most anything.
The big females are recuperating from the spawn but can still be caught
with slow moving baits or flies.
*SPRING: (Third week in June) The pike are
really active and are found in shallow waters. There are no weeds yet
so they hide amongst the boulders and in the bays with a little color
on the bottom. Water temperatures also plays a big part in locating pike
at this time.
*PRE-SUMMER: (Fourth week in June and first
week in July.) Pike are moving to the deeper parts of bays where the weeds
are just starting to grow. The fish are feeding really well. Pike can
be found in all places with any amount of weed growth.
*SUMMER: (This is usually second week in
July to mid August.) This time of year, the weather is fairly stable and
the fish feed regularly. The pike are hanging around the cabbage beds
and the wind blown shorelines. Most of the really big pike that come out
of a lake are caught at this time. Good lures to use are weedless spoons.
*FALL: (This is usually the end of August)
The weeds start to die and the fish move out of them. The number of small
pike will slow down but the big ones are still on the feed. This is when
the big ones are really heavy and fight hard.
*THE TURNOVER: (Early to mid September) This
is when you don't want to be on the water since it is the least productive.
Fishing is slow since the water is now all the same temperature and the
pike are scattered and difficult to find.
Northern Pike Lures...
With their voracious appetites, these pike can
be caught on most any lure, but we find some seem to work a little better
than most. A few must-have lures you should bring along when you come
fish with us are:
*Blue Fox Super Vibrax
# 5 or # 6 (Gold and silver are best)
*Mepp's #5 (with no hair)
*Len Thompson #2 spoons, any colors
*1 oz Daredevils, any colors
*Johnson Silver Minnow, gold or silver ones
with twister tails
*Large Crank Baits
Good Northern Pike fishing equipment...
The best thing you can do is get yourself some
good quality equipment. The cheap stuff will only last long enough to
ruin your trip. You will need a medium to heavy action casting or bait-casting
rod at least 6 feet in length. A good stiff rod (but not a "broomstick")
with a sensitive tip is needed to control the big pike. A light rod takes
too long to fight the fish and puts more stress than necessary on them.
Over-playing the fish makes it harder to revive them once you're done
taking photos. Good strong leaders no shorter than 9" is needed with
good snaps and swivels. The best out there are the titanium leaders. For
reels, you usually get what you pay for. The most important thing is to
have a good working drag system. If it doesn't work good you will lose
the big fish, not to mention a lot of tackle. Also bring some new 14 to
20 lbs test line.
us and explore the endless shorelines, bays and natural
structures of Lake Waskaiowaka, the Little Churchill river and numerous
other navigable rivers. These lakes have been catch and release from day
one. This is a tradition we will continue to uphold. For success with
our conservation efforts, we depend on our guests to be equally conservation
minded. Handling all fish with care and diligent catch and release practices
is crucial to ensure that future generations will enjoy awesome trophy
fishing in our waters.
1) When casting for pike, keep your eyes on or
behind your lure and your lure in the water all the way up to the boat.
In the 16 years I've been guiding for pike, I've seen many people lose
or miss big fish because they were not paying attention. Pike love to
follow, many times striking only a few feet from the boat.
2) Polarized sunglasses, yes that's it. Don't come
pike fishing up here without them. These glasses take the glare off the
top of the water allowing you to see into the water a lot better. Without
them, you miss half of the action as pike tend to follow and often strike
within your sight. With polarized glasses you will be able to see the
follows better as well as which pike to cast at when you're in a shallow
bay full of fish. You will catch more fish and be a better fisherman.
As a professional pike fishing guide these kind of glasses are a very
important tool, and I would not be as successful without them.
3) The pike fishing tip is pretty simple but very
important - keep your hooks sharp. A good sharpening tool should be in
your tackle box all the time. The sharper your hooks are the more fish
you will catch. It will also be a lot easer to set the hook witch puts
a lot less stress on your fishing line and rod.
4) Quite often, when sight-fishing for pike you
get to see the fish before you cast. When this happens, throw your lure
past the fish and when your lure is coming by the pike keep your eyes
on the fish to see what the fish's response is. The way it responds plays
a big part in how to work your lure.
example, if the fish points straight at the lure and only comes in slow,
stop retreating, let the lure drop to the bottom and give it a few twitches.
Keep trying different techniques (i.e. changing
speeds, action, twitching, S) until the pike starts coming in fast on
the lure. When this happens don't stop doing whatever it was that turned
the pike onto your lure.
5) Looking for a good pike fishing rod can be a
lot of fun and can alsobe a little confusing at times. There are so many
different kinds, makes,and sizes to pick from. Which one is the best?
Well, you want to match the rod to the size of fish you're going to catch.
If you're coming fishing with us, you're going to catch a lot of big pike,
so when picking up your rod for the trip you want to make sure of a few
· Medium to heavy with a good back bone.
To check the back bone you hold the rod by the handle firmly with one
hand and with your other hand push down on the rod between the handle
and the first eyelet. It should be solid with only a little bend in it,
if it is easy to bend and very flexible at this part I would leave this
rod on the shelf.
· The more eyelets the better. Most good
rods have at least 7, however 9 or 10 is better.
· A good sensitive tip will help you feel
things better.· And the length should be at least 6'6". The
longer rods have a few advantages. One being, when the pike runs under
the boat you can get the longer rod deeper in the water faster so your
line doesn't rub along the bottom of the boat. I've seen hundreds of trophy
pike lost because the line gets cut on the boat.
When you come fishing in July and August, you will spend some of your
time fishing in cabbage weed beds. You can fish these weed beds with regular
lures until they become too thick to fish. Then you would need weedless
lures like the Johnson Minnow®. When you're going to be fishing these
beds, you want to use a fishing rod and line that is a little heavier
than you normally would use. Many times when you hook up with a big pike,
it will take off under the weeds and turn. If you don't have the heavy
equipment to keep the tension on the hook, your hook will come back with
nothing but weeds. With a small rod and line it may feel like you have
a lot of pressure on the fish but really the weeds will take up the pressure
and the hook will become loose and easy for the pike to spit it. Your
hook may also catch on the base of the weeds and get pulled out of the
fish's mouth, potentially causing you to lose a trophy fish.
7) When you are fishing for the really big pike
you need to have the proper size hook on the back of your lure. This is
very important as the wrong size hook can cause you to lose the fish of
your dreams. You need a good sized hook that will catch the jawbone, or
a larger part of the mouth. The smaller hook will only get a small piece
of meat and many times tear the soft tissue when the pike takes a run.
8) Have the tools ready to use. It is essential
to get the hook out as fast and as safely as possible to ensure the highest
survival rate for the fish. Having the right tool to do a good job and
having them ready to go isvery important. When you have a big pike on
the line the other person inthe boat can start to get things ready to
use. Long needle-nose pliers, hook out, measuring tape, camera and the
release cradle are the basics.
Keeping the fish alive? Once the fish is in the cradle, leave it in the
water and have one person hold the cradle open as the other one removes
the hook. Once this is done get the camera and make sure it is working
before lifting the fish out of the water. After the picture has been taken
put the fish back in the water as fast as you can. The fish might be a
little tired after the fight and may need a little help to get its strength
back. Make sure to take a few minutes to hold the fish upright in the
water and move its tail side to side.
Also make sure to get enough water flowing through
its gills until it takes off on its own. Most of the fish that die is
caused by keeping them out of the water too long after a long fight and
not spending the time to revive them. The rewards of seeing that big pikes
swim away strong far outweigh the extra minute of fishing you might get
by just throwing them back.
DUNLOPS FLY-IN LODGE AND OUTPOST
IT GETS BETTER EVERY YEAR!
writen by Jim Crowley of MidWest Outdoors & www.hookandhunttv.com
As we motored out from the bay, I
knew I was in for an adventure. Coming back to Dunlop’s always affords
me the opportunities at monster Master Angler northern Pike. I always
get excited about coming to the little Churchill River system. Few areas
have the topography and forage base to continually produce big pike. Not
just 40 inch fish but pike that routinely are caught in the mid to upper
forty inch area and beyond. Lake Waskiowaka is one of those areas and
Dunlop’s is the only lodge on the lake. With a short ten-week season
and only 16 guests per week, this has become prime territory for my quest.
Add to it that Jerry Dunlop’s guides know how to care for and release
trophy pike to fight another day and continue to grow to be massive fish.
You put all that together and you have the ingredients for my latest adventure.
Stay with me on this one, it’s about to get real good!
I arrived at camp in the middle of
August. Every year people ask me what the best time to come fish for big
pike is. Some say June; some say September - here is what I say to all
of you. Anytime is good as long as you educate yourself on the tools you’ll
will need and pike habits according to where and when you will be fishing.
To that I add that August is fast becoming a great time of year for me
according to my records. Don’t let that time of year get in the
way of your pursuit! We pulled up to a point within sight of the lodge
and got ready for the day. You see, you will all be able to see what happened
during this trip as accompanying me on this adventure was one of the Midwest
Outdoors camera crew, Coulter Mitchell. Jerry Dunlop and I started
fan casting a large weed bed off the side of a point that had wind blowing
on it. If you’re taking notes, pike love wind! Jerry was throwing
a Blue Fox Vibrex and I was throwing a new RAPALA SubWalk. Remember that,
you’ll want one after this! The Sub-walk does what its name implies.
The six inch lure, on a stout steel leader sinks horizontally and with
twitches from the rod tip walks side to side. With a little practice,
this bait will glide effortlessly and seductively through the water. On
the third cast I made, I saw a large flash beneath the lure. A near miss,
however, I was encouraged.
And then... I threw back to the same
general area where the miss occurred. The rod surged forward and was almost
ripped from my hand. The fish went deep and Jerry yelled, ”it’s
pulling the front of the boat around!” This was a BIG fish and it
came off! I don’t know what happened, the line just went slack.
Ok, so a big fish comes off. I get over it and get back to casting. We
come within 50 yards of the point and I decide to work the SubWalk a little
deeper. I had one near miss and a big fish slash at the bait, get barely
hooked and come off. Apparently I have the action they want, retrieve
speed is good but need a minor adjustment. So I try a depth change of
about a foot or so deeper on the retrieve. WHAM! “BIG fish”
I yell as the rod doubles over and the braided line rips the grass up
while the big fish peels line from my reel. I know a big pike when I feel
one and I set again opposite the way the fish is headed. Driving those
hooks in and making the fish fight my equipment, not me. It’s not
over yet as the monster changes direction and tries to head under the
boat. I leverage the rod in my gut and strain to head off the fish’s
instinctive move. I get the fish to come around the front of the boat
and that’s when I see the width of its back. This is no “hammer
handle” - it’s the entire tool box! The big pike makes another
hard run and as it goes by the side of the boat, I can’t see my
lure. That is always a good sign as the massive fish engulfs the entire
bait. Note to self, also the right color choice. The fish slows and is
ten feet from the boat. I always watch the dorsal to the back tail of
a big fish. That area moves first right before a big run. I watched and
off she went into the weeds. I was ready and again turned my rod the opposite
way of the run. This time, she came easily to the cradle and Jerry brought
aboard the 46.5 inch pike for pictures and a quick release. My first fish
of the trip. Welcome to Dunlop’s!
The next couple of days went the
same way. Numerous Master Angler fish were caught during our short three-day
stay by us as well as other guests of the lodge. The meals are delicious
as Chef Jim Peters is excellent on choices as well as presentation. He
is also a great walleye fisherman. In the past I have failed to mention
the walleye fishing at Dunlop’s because of the amazing Pike fishing.
So this time around, I’ll get right to the point. 30 walleyes up
to 25” easily caught on three inch Storm swim baits in an hour between
Chef Jim and me on a quick trip one night after dinner. Now back to the
pike fishing, because it ain’t over yet!
During our final day of filming we
were pursuing one last fish. (Aren’t we all?) So as we came into
this “neck down” area located between two islands, the wind
started to blow. That’s always encouraging due to the funneling
effect that causes current between narrow areas. Jerry and I were again
fan casting the expansive weed bed without lures of choice. Jerry had
within the last hour caught another 42 inch Master Angler pike and our
numbers of fish in that range and above were quite impressive for just
three days of fishing. What was even more enjoyable was the even larger
numbers of fish in the upper 30 inch range that I lost count of. We caught
a lot of fish over 10 pounds. So anyway we each hooked a couple of decent
size pike that we quickly released. I made a cast to the outside edge
of the weed bed next to an open lane that separated one patch of weeds
and another large area. I remember turning to talk to Jerry. I was working
the before mentioned SubWalk with slight downward twitches of the rod.
Suddenly I lost contact with the lure. No feeling at all. I reeled up
line and nothing. I continued to reel and then noticed the slack line
moving off to the side through the weeds. I frantically reeled and then
felt pressure. I set the hook hard and the water exploded in teeth-filled
fury! The big pike went crazy as weeds flew through the air. Its girth
was impressive. The fish had inhaled the lure and swam toward the boat.
Once contact was made the big pike let me know his displeasure. With a
swipe of his tail, we were soaked and it headed under the boat, and then,
I could no longer reel. The reel was in free spool and line was going
out that I had no control of. It was chaotic! I thought the reel had broken,
so I grabbed the braided line, not a good idea! But I merely kept pressure
on the line and hand over hand got the fish closer to the boat. The pike
was tiring, but I was weary of his strength. He swam boat side and I decided
to try to land him. I tightened my grip on the line and turned him towards
the net with a quick driving pull. Jerry was there with the cradle and
we landed the massive fish without the luxury of Rod and reel!
After the chaos Jerry pointed out that the reel in fact did NOT break.
Here is what happened: with the quick downward pull the pike made so close
to the boat, my thumb rested on the thumb spool enough to disengage the
spool without my knowing it. The reel worked fine, it was operator error!
You will see all of it as it happened on an upcoming segment on the Midwest
Outdoors television show and now you know the rest of the story.
I have stated before that Dunlop’s
Fly-In Lodge and Outposts is the best destination for your honest
shot at a Master Angler Pike and the fish of a lifetime. I not only stand
by that statement, I have proven it to myself on numerous different occasions
at different times of the year. A family-run resort with guests that continually
leave and return as friends. No hype, no fly-outs, no added costs, just
consistent fishing, great food and a wonderful place to spend your time
with friends and/or family. You can easily contact Jerry and his family
at www.dunlopfishing.com .
They have different packages that range from secluded outposts to main
lodge accommodations all of which offer great opportunities at Master
Angler pike and plenty of walleye action. Dunlop’s
Fly-In Lodge and Outposts without question gets better every year.