Trophy Northern Pike Fishing

 

Trophy Northern Pike

Northern Pike Fishing

BIG Northern Pike

 

Trophy Northern Pike Fishing in Manitoba

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.

Dunlop's 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.

Northern Pike

The 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.

Lake 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 water.

When is the best time to come and fish?

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 week.

This little guide might help you see what the fish are doing and what kind of fishing you can expect at different times of year.

* 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.

50 Inch Northern Pike!Best 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
*
Bombers
*
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.

Join 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.


DUNLOPS FLY-IN LODGE AND OUTPOST
(THE PIKE FACTORY)

Story writen by Jim Crowley of MidWest Outdoors & www.hookandhunttv.com

My arm is sore, my casting hand has a cramp, there is a bruise below my ribs from the butt of my rod and I've never had a bigger smile on my face! In just a 3 day trip, I saw, caught and released more trophy pike than anywhere I have ever been. The lures I used on this trip looked like they were run over by a truck! The pictures I took on this adventure look like a lifetime of memories, not a short fly-in trip to Northern Manitoba. Last January, I was introduced to owner Jerry Dunlop by outdoor writer and former longtime host of the Complete Angler television show, Don Lamont. I had been to Manitoba with Don before and as we walked and talked at the All Canada Show Don stated, "Jim, if it’s big pike you want, Jerry and his wife have a great place you need to see. After a short discussion with Jerry we decided I would come up in August. As usual when I come to Manitoba, I was packed almost two weeks ahead of time and the anticipation was killing me! The province of Manitoba has been the home to some of my most memorable adventures, and this as I was about to find out, would be no different.

As I looked out the window of the plane over the expansive wilderness that is Northern Manitoba, the 3000 foot private airstrip came into view. Dunlop’s Fly-In Lodge is located about 500 miles north of the US/Canada border. It is tucked away on the shores of Lake Waskaiowaka (a Cree Indian word meaning “surrounded by sand”) and the Little Churchill River system. Since Dunlop's has exclusive allocation, there are no other lodges, communities or local fishing. At the end of the runway I saw the other guest getting ready to leave, and as I always do I went up and started talking to some of them. I asked, "How was the fishing?" Three guys tried to answer me at once. "Awesome, incredible, unbelievable" they stated in stereo. "Never have we been to a place like this, we already made our reservations for next season!" I was already excited, and they were not helping! I met up with Jerry and he stated, "Lets get you some breakfast and get fishing - it's going to be a good day." As I walked through the door of the main lodge, I was greeted by the smiling faces of Jerry's wife Collete and their three children, Gabrielle, Zachary and Noah. Coming out of the kitchen was Lauren our hostess and David, the cook. He looked happy. I like happy cooks; good meals usually come from happy cooks and this breakfast of eggs and bacon was just what I needed. Anybody who knows me, knows I love my coffee. And to me coffee always taste better in Canada. Alongside that awesome breakfast, no coffee ever tasted better!

On the short walk back to my cabin, I could not help but notice the view. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze in the air and I watched a bald eagle ride that breeze over some tree tops. The rustic setting puts the lodge and cabins just off the lake shore and almost hidden by the trees. Then it hits you that you are the only one here and for the next couple of days all this openness and wilderness is yours to experience. My room had a very comfortable bed with a great shower. Plenty of room to store my equipment and lots of space to spead out and get all my tackle ready for the job ahead. I changed faster than Superman in a phone booth, got my gear, and met Jerry down at the dock. Usually, I get ready for a long boat ride or get ready for a flyout to some other lake. That was not the case here. The nicely equipped Lund boats with Yamaha outboards were ready to go and with Jerry's assurance, we took a 10 minute boat ride. I could still see the lodge. We were fishing the windy side of an island for only 5 minutes when I caught my first pike of the day. Twenty mintes later in the same area, still looking at the lodge, I caught my first pike of the trip over 40 inches! We headed for another island that was right behind the one we were fishing. On this sunny day I was casting a Northland Forage minnow spoon, then the water boiled and a big fish stabbed at the spoon sending the metallic morsel flying out of the water. Jerry yells, "Fish!" Another quality fish in the upper 30-inch range inhaled his lure. I don't exactly how many fish we caught that first day, but I know everywhere we stopped we either saw or caught some of the healthiest, meanest and thickest pike I have seen in a long time. I lost a couple of fish close to or over 40 inches on that first day. In Manitoba a pike has to be forty-one inches or bigger to qualify as a trophy and register as a Master Angler fish. When you are catching fish consistently in the upper 30-inch range with several reaching 40 inches only several hours after getting off a plane all I could think was ‘I am in Pike heaven’!

That night back at the lodge I met several other guests. Douglas Bay and Paul Denk were from St. Louis, MO and Gene and Deanna Welch were from Sardis, MS. This was Doug's first trip to Canada and he was not only excited, he was impressed as he had already caught a couple of trophy pike including a 45-incher! This was Paul's second trip to Dunlop’s and his Master Angler list of fish was growing as well. Gene was also on his second trip of the year and had a 43 inch fish today and stated "I was here in June and during that week, I had 13 pike over 41 inches myself!" On researching Lake Waskaiowaka, I learned that with many deep weed beds, large shallow spawning bays, rocky reefs with good drop-offs, numerous rivers and an extremely strong forage base, this area is about as perfect a pike habitat as there is. To grow monster pike you need the topography and forage base to sustain those big fish. Lake Waskaiowake has all of that in abundance. With a forage base of eel pout, a very soft and oily fish along with walleye, perch and whitefish this is basically a lake with pike and pike's food! The statistics also prove it. According to the Manitoba Master Angler list, 310 pike over 45 inches were caught from Manitoba last year. 31 of those massive pike, or ten percent of all the pike 45 inches or bigger, came from Dunlop’s on Lake Waskaiowaka!

I slept well that night and was more than ready for an early start. As Jerry and I walked down toward the dock, Jerry said, "We got a lot of places to go today but I want to start out by that little island right over there, it’s had some big fish on it lately." “That's fine by me,” I said. We pulled up to this large weed bed on the windy side of this island and I started casting a spoon, watching it come through the weeds. The water erupted and my rod loaded with the power of a big fish. "Good fish", I yelled! The fish stayed deep and the braided line cut through the grass like a hot knife through butter. A couple more hard runs and I led her to the cradle where Jerry landed her. 10 minutes into our day and my first pike was 41.5 inches long. We quickly took pictures and released the Master Angler fish. Numerous other good-sized fish came off that point. I looked at another island right across from where we were and said to Jerry, "Let’s go over to that windy point and check it out." We pulled up to the area and I made a cast. Within 5 cranks of the handle, I yelled, " Big Fish!" I never saw this one, it hit deep as I had let the spoon flutter on the initial cast to the side of the weed bed. Jerry said, "I was not even ready, but I am now!" The fish came alongside the boat and with a powerful surge my drag started to scream. Under the boat and around the front of the boat the big fish stayed deep. We finally got her boat side and this trophy pike measured 42 inches and another Master Angler fish, my second of the day and within the first hour of fishing. As I was to find out, the day would only get better.

We headed to another area known as the Northeast arm. This area looked like classic big pike area with several different kinds of weeds and darker copper-colored water. It was still sunny so I stayed with a spoon and Jerry was throwing a Vibrax spinner. The big pike hit hard and I saw the swirl where Jerry's lure was. His rod seemed to double at the weight of the fish and it ran around the back of the boat tearing up weeds and pad stems as it headed away from the boat. It was now my turn with the cradle and Jerry instructed me to keep it deep in the water and he would bring the fish to me. He did just that and the large 43.5 inch trophy was in the boat. We took more pictures, did a high five or two and Jerry stated, "We are spoiled here. Big fish are an everyday occurence here. We take extremely good care of these fish and all my guides know how to quickly and properly release these fish. We only have 16 guests a week staying at the lodge and we are only open for a ten-week season." At this point, I am thinking to myself, ‘how much better can it get?’ We continue to move farther up the arm and Jerry decides to move farther off the shore into more open water and a deeper weed bed he knows about. I am still throwing a spoon and watching it come through some sparse weeds when from under the boat comes a massive flash that inhales my lure five feet from the boat. I am stunned at the size so close to the boat and my drag screams as the large pike streaks away. All I see is the back of this fish and it’s wide - wider than anything we have seen so far, and we have seen some big fish! This fish is mean, and I have always said that Manitoba for whatever reason, has the meanest and strongest pike I have ever caught. This fish must have been the president of that club! It jumped over the cradle 3 times and ran all around the boat. Jerry and I passed each other several times trying to control this fish. First in the front, than around the back. This fish had power and speed which is a deadly combination when you only see one hook in its mouth! She was barely hooked when Jerry finally got the cradle under her. The big pike measured 46.5 inches and flat wore us out!

We both had to sit down for a minute and let soak in what was happening. This morning had yielded 4 trophy fish up to this point and numerous other good-sized fish. We would land over 130 fish that day, but there is still another story to be told. We moved farther up the arm as the clouds started to hide the sun. Jerry switched to a larger bucktail with a hot orange blade and black tail. We were fan casting a point when I heard him yell and saw what looked like a bomb explode 30 feet off the back of the boat. Water was thrown 5 feet in the air as a big fish left a hole where Jerry's lure use to be. The swirl and splash were massive, the theme from Jaws played in my head. "Jim, it’s big" said Jerry. We said that a lot on this day. The monster pike came from the back of the boat and raced toward the front, I again saw the back, but it was bigger than the one I had caught just an hour before. Jerry and I danced around one another. At this point in the day we had gotten good at it. The front of the boat moved toward the fish. Jerry's drag was working but the big fish was working just as hard and left a trail of uprooted weeds and stirred-up debris. She made another run and tried to go under the boat. Jerry steered her away and as she came back I was ready with the cradle. Jerry made an attempt to raise the fishes’ head toward the cradle. I shoved the cradle deep into the water and tried to judge where the tail was. All I saw was head and body. I closed the cradle and felt the weight and power of the fish surge in its captivity. It was the biggest pike I have ever been in the boat with. The 48.5 inch pike was massive in length and girth. We quickly took measurements, pictures and released her. To watch that fish swim away was incredible. To be a part of that experience is something I will never forget.
As I stated previously, we caught over 130 fish that day. 10 of those fish were 40 inches or bigger and six of them were of Master Angler status. Numerous fish were 35 inches or bigger and we even lost a few. I have been blessed to experience some fantastic pike fishing. I love it, I live for it. Pike are my favorite freshwater fish to catch and I have been to some excellent places. But Dunlop’s Fly-In Lodges and Outpost on Lake Waskaiowaka is the best Pike fishery I have ever been on. I was there for only about 2.5 days. Within sight of the lodge, while I was there 7 trophies were caught. Within the time span of that week, 7 or more fish over 45 inches were caught! On the last day I was there one of the other guests who I mentioned, Gene Welch, caught and released 5 fish over 44 inches!

Jerry and Collette Dunlop have devoted their time, energy and passion to growing their business and making it a home away from home for their guests. I could feel it while I was there. Guest Paul Denk put it this way, "I have been to a lot of other lodges, but this place is far better than anywhere I have been. It’s the people, the food, the fishing, it’s the whole thing." Gene Welch stated, "you don't have to go on additional fly-outs here; you can, but there is no need. Look at the all the fish we caught within view of the lodge. This is a true trophy fishery." When I asked Jerry what he feels makes his lodge different, his humble response did not surprise me. He stated, "what makes this camp different Jim, is that this place is my guest’s camp, I'm just the lucky one who keeps it going for them."

Without question the best pike fishery I have ever been to. The people, the experience and quality of fish are all of trophy status. I would like to thank Don Lamont for the introduction to Jerry and his wonderful family-run operation. I would also like to thank Travel Manitoba (www.travelmanitoba.com) for again allowing me the opportunity to travel and experience their wonderful province. Without question I want to thank Jerry and Collete Dunlop and their family for the experience of a lifetime. For the best in Trophy Pike fishing (and great walleye fishing too!) and an experience that you will never forget, check out Dunlop’s Fly-In Lodge and Outpost at their website, www.dunlopsfishing.com or give their office a call at
1-204-346 FISH (3474) .

In the short amount of time I was there, I not only had absolutely unbelievable fishing, I got to share it with the great people. The meals were fantastic, the company was great and honestly it felt like a home away from home. One of those rare places that once you arrive, you feel like it’s where you should be. It becomes a part of you. The passion, professionalism and persistence to make all the guests feel like family adds to the already incredible place that is Dunlop’s Fly-In Lodge and Outpost, or as I will forever call it, “the pike factory”.