Planes of The Tundra

We spent over two months in the Northwest Territories flying staff, clients and supplies to Aylmer Lake Lodge with the best bush planes and companies: Cessna Baby Caravan, DeHavilland Twin Otter and the 185 Cessna aircraft all on floats.

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Bush flying refers to flying that is done in remote and rugged areas of the Northwest Territories Canada.  Oftentimes planes that fly in the bush are equipped with floats to take off and land on water.

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Our bush flying originates in the remote areas of the Canadian north Barrenlands where the lack of roads makes the transportation of necessities (such as clients, staff, fuel for generators and boats, food, medicine and building materials)only possible by float planes.

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Perhaps more than other types of flying, bush flying invokes romantic notions of people flying off to Aylmer Lake Lodge in the  north eastern regions of the Northwest Territories. The image of Caravan, Twin Otter or 185 taking off or landing on a remote pristine lake with the oldest rock in the world called the barrenlands as a backdrop has become the iconic picture portraying the float plane fly in fishing lifestyle of Aylmer Lake Lodge.

Flat Water Day

 

August 2, 2017
After a hearty breakfast we headed out to the Thanakoie River. What a boat ride water like glass, and the scenery magnificent. As my group said, Ah inspiring scenery.” We arrived dropped our lines and let the games begin. We were off to a great start got one line in and the bite was on. Perfect day! Flat water day and the bite is on. Fish after fish, biggest landed was 28 lbs but we lost many at the boat that were bigger. “Me, you have a bite, him, no I think I am snagged on a rock. Hello, your right it’s a fish and it’s a big one. The fight is on, gets it to the boat and then the fish hammers the line and cruises right on by. They do this weird thing of hammer hard past, stop, slack and spit the hook out. My guy says, what the hell, he had to be over 40, I am yup and they are willy, fighters.”

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Again a day of boating high teens to high twenties, biggest of the day a 28 pounder. A bonus of this day was a sighting of an Arctic Grizzly Bear. He was in the rapids and he was fishing! He saw us when we saw him, we both looked at each other and he decided to move on out. We got some long distance photos. Our client had fished 11 times in the Arctic and that was his first sighting of a Grizzly Bear. The very best fishing action happening and you get the added bonus of wildlife, that makes it memorable.

As we sat around the dinner table eating a great meal, we began to look back at our day on the water. The consensus was, most fish boated ever, day after day, opportunity provided for some really big guys, enough action to keep everyone hoping all day long. Great shore lunches and a real treat to arrive back at your cabin and have fresh baked chip chip cookies sitting on your table for a light snack before supper.

The daylight cannot get over the daylight, “ I was standing outside my cabin at midnight and it is daylight, up at 5:00 AM bright daylight.” We said, it’s getting darker now as we head into August it will get dark at night and you will be seeing the Northern Lights. Up here you look South to see the Northern Lights. We get spectacular Northern Lights because we have zero light pollution.

If you are wanting to experience the fishing and the Northern Lights, you need to book mid August to Mid Sept. it will be cooler days, no bugs, and it will be dark at night. If you want yo experience the 24 hour daylight then you need to book July 1 to mid August.

Lake Trout on the Fly

Lake Trout

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Lake Trout and caribou, oh my what a day! There are several claims of other Lakes in Northwest Territories being home to the legendary Gigantic Trout and though it may be true, to only a degree, this is the place where they were perfected. It was another perfect day on the water slamming fish in the high teens to high twenties. The boats each caught and released 30+ fish with the largest being in the high twenties at 27 lbs.

The action on steady, you were catching or watching a fellow boater catching. We travelled out as a group and there was some heavy betting, some teasing, and a lot of laughs. Shore lunch had everyone talking about the excitement of hammering fish. One fellow said, I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Aylmer Lake Trout

Few places on earth have Lake Trout this pretty. Thick green side with brown serpentine markings pour out of huge gill plates accenting their broad shouldered heavy bellied deep green bodies that are covered with brown lines that ooze into one another. But don’t let these good looks fool you. One look at the grocery hole of a mouth on these critters will clue you in to the fact that they love eating smaller Lake Trout, Arctic Grayling, rodent-eating, duck stealing, lake serpents. They are far removed from their wimpy midge sipping kin in the lower forty-eight.

We are very proud of our Lake Trout, as our native resident species. Out of this respect we have adopted a strict, catch and release policy in order to ensure the long-lasting protection of one of our greatest and most unique fishery resources.

We use a wide variety of techniques when targeting our Lake Trout, and we fish in a whole bunch of different types of water. Flesh flies, egg imitations, sculpin patterns and leeches all work well at certain times on the Lockhart river, Thonokie river and the Thanakoie river. Mousing for Lake Trout is one of our favorite ways of fishing for Lake Trout. We fish big-water, ledges and drop-offs, spawning beds in August and little tiny side channels.

Lots of our fishing for Lake Trout happens on foot for the rivers and in boats for the lakes. We sometimes fish from our boats in ‘drift boat’ mode.

Fly Tackle for Lake Trout

Rods

We recommend 8-10 weight high quality, fast action rods capable of casting mouse patterns and split shot, and dealing with the occasional rogue Grayling that will strike your trout fly. Drift fishing can be snag intensive so be prepared to use a little heavier leader for trout than most people are accustomed to. Lake Trout on the Thanakoie river can range from 7 lbs up to 48 lbs our biggest landed in the river!

Reels

To match rod with medium to strong drag.

Lines

Sinking tip lines with 120 yards of backing are most common.

Leaders

12 to 20 pound monofilament.

 

Fish Stories – That Fish

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We’re blessed here at Aylmer Lake Lodge to fish for what we think are some of the most beautiful lake trout in the world. Although, to set a goal to catch a fish more beautiful than most, on light tackle, with out down riggers may have been a little overambitious when looked back upon.. But we went for it anyway.

The day started off as any other. The plan was to fish lake trout in the morning, and then catch the early afternoon baby arctic perigean bird watching. But the lake trout was the goal. I had a few places in mind to fish and only half a day to hit them. So, needless to say, we needed to make the best of our time.

The morning progressed amazingly. When anglers make the decision to fish a surface light flutter spoon, you know you’re in for a good time!

And then I felt it… While trolling over a shallow rocky reef, my angler made a cast in front of the boat into the shallow water. Immediately, a lake trout came at full force to destroy the spoon, but all I saw was the unmistakeable large tail of a lake trout only a few feet behind, can’t believe this lake trout left this his home for such a offering.

The lake trout just seemed too shy to come entirely into view and leave the comfort of his dark crack in this 3.8 billion year old rock. “Ok, well he’s not going to get away that easily,” I said, “ we’re going to cast a T-60 to him out, and see if he will take it on the surface.” But, still nothing.

So finally, a little disheartened, I decided to keep trolling. “But first, let’s take that T-60 off and put the flutter spoon back on.”

As we stood there in the boat switching lures, it was like it was meant to be.. Lake Trout started surfacing out of the dark crack in the oldest rock in the world – A nose, then dorsal fin, and then the huge tail fin, I knew I had seen her earlier.. Then, with a quick double check of the business of the hook, it was time for flutter spoon to go in for one more swim.

The next few moments was perfect! The perfect cast, a few feet ahead of the fish, just past a dark hole in the rock, and she CRUSH it! With what seemed like an instantaneous explosion, the lake trout was peeling line out well into the backing, crushed the flutters spoon, she made some awesome strong runs, and settled into the net!