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