As with most fishing “nuts”, once my gear is loaded on the float plane and we lift off for home, I’m counting down the days until my next trip back and reflecting on trips past.
My first ever fly-in fishing trip was to Rutledge Lake Lodge in 1980. For me back then, it was all about catching that big lunker and we did our best to do so. We still reminisce about three monster pike that teased us one afternoon for ten or fifteen minutes, following our lures back to the boat on several casts. Though we didn’t hook one, the crystal clear water provided us with an incredible and exciting show we still talk about 38 years later!
But what I remember best is quality time spent with family and friends, winning the huckleybuck pot one evening, and yes the mosquitos were quite memorable that first trip as well!
As usual, Rob Day from Edmonton was enjoying incredible action with his green herring teaser, me and my purple haze teaser not so much! With rain clouds heading our way, we decided to troll over to the filleting island, clean ourcatch for lunch and then hustle home to avoid getting wet.
As we got closer to the shallows between our position and the fileting island, Rob smiled, “Got one!” I started to reel in slowly hoping to snag one myself and”‘Bam” doubleheader. After much confusion and plenty of laughs, we managed to land both, snap a quick picture and then release the scrappy pair. We decided to finish our troll, another 100 yards or so before passing over the shallows before the island. After finding our “dental equipment” which seemed to be scattered everywhere in the mayhem, we rigged up and continued our troll.
In anticipation of the shallows, we watched the depth finder closely. First 30′, 20′, 15 and then 6′! “Reel in quick, we’re there!” Rob said. We both started to reel in our line when I felt a tug and my reel began to scream as the line was peeling off! Because of the depth, I started whining, “Big pike, the bugger’s going to take my favorite hook!” We were using 30lb mono for a leader and a pike’s teeth can easily cut the line. Rob was bent over laughing and mocking me as I continued cursing, “Don’t take my hook you big ******!” My line still zinging off the reel, “Hey, we’ve got to go. I’m running out of line!” Rob fired up the motor and started to follow so I could recoup some line. My drag was set quite tight, the fish tired and the big run stopped. Rob cut the engine and the fight continued. We were now in about 15′ of water, the fish was still trying desperately to get to deeper water. I slowly started to regain my line back and soon we got our first look.
Rob yelled, “It’s not a pike, it’s a big Lake Trout!”
Once we had the lunker securely in the net, we both started to laugh (in the rain!). Rob smacked me on the back so hard I nearly went into the drink!
Rob continued to out fish me as usual, catching some nice lakers as well. Truly another memorable trip to the Lodge!
It was getting late into our trip and everyone had caught at least one big laker with the exception of myself. Travis had caught two 20 pounds or better and Rob had two including a 36 pound beauty. I was fishing from the same boat, using the same hook and letting out the same amount of line yet I was having no luck with the big lunkers!
At first I thought, “Oh S*** I’m hung up!” It didn’t take long to realize I had a big laker on the line. Straight down to the bottom and there it stayed. Ten minutes into the fight I thought I’d muscle the lunker up. I put some extra pressure on the rod and for a brief second I thought I’d pulled the hook out and lost the fatty!. Needless to say there may have been a few choice words! There was no horsing it up, it was a stalemate for another few minutes until finally up it started. Once at the surface, Rob scooped and we had landed my first big lake trout. We quickly removed the hook, were amazed at the half eaten whitefish still in it’s mouth, took some pictures and released it to catch another day. I can still remember the excitement of catching my first big laker, a thrill I won’t forget anytime soon!
In 2013, Harold Wagner put on a fishing clinic during his stay at the Lodge. Harold’s top 3 tipped the scale at 20 lbs., 28 lbs. and a Trophy in excess of 30 lbs. This despite some nasty weather and a “Rookie Netter” that nearly botched landing 2 of Harold’s 3 big Lakers. Luckily, things ended well and Harold didn’t have to throw me overboard!
On June 18, 2012, it was just another day on Rutledge Lake. The weather was good, the company was great, and the fishing was fantastic. The fishing got even better when Rob Day from Edmonton landed and released after a 15 minute scrap, a nice laker weighing approx. 25 lb. Once back in camp, there was some needling going on (Part of the fun, if your the lucky one)! The rest of the guys thought Rob might very well have the “MONEY” Laker on our first full day of fishing.
The next morning, we loaded up our gear and set out to beat the previous days catch. Ten minutes later Dean DesRoches from Edmonton hooked a trophy laker in the 25 lb. range. After landing this beauty and getting some pics, Dean released the laker back into the water. A little more than an hour later, Dean was reeling in an even bigger laker, close to 30 lbs! This lunker was also released. Before the trip was over, we had caught 7 between 20 – 30 lbs. five were caught within a stones throw of camp. Dean’s 30 lber turned out to be the “MONEY” catch of the trip. Although I don’t remember anyone actually paying Dean!
As the sun sets in early September, back to camp to stoke the furnace and enjoy a ‘hot toddy’!
Another day of non stop fishing action at the lodge has past, one last log on the fire…
The Auroral Oval is a giant ribbon of energy 124 miles (200 km) in diameter and 124 to 186 miles (200 to 300 km) high. It encircles the magnetic north pole and creates a corona of light known as the Aurora Borealis.
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south..
Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
On a clear night in the fall, the Northern Lights can be viewed from the Lodge dancing magically across the sky.
In the summer, the Northwest Territories is truly the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. .
Commencing in June at the Lodge, angler’s can enjoy fishing late into the evening taking advantage of the summer solstice.
The average daylight in June is 19:42, July 18:50, August 16:05 and September 12:58. Whether catching a laker after midnight or enjoying the unspoiled beauty of ones surroundings, you might be surprised how quickly a day or even week can pass when averaging 19 hour of daylight per day!
Rob Day from Edmonton landed this 42″ plus northern pike on a green hearing teaser using 30lb mono leader. Even Rob would have to admit it was his lucky day for more than one reason!
Numerous trout rigs have been lost courtesy of a big pike!