Wollaston Lake Lodge, Day One: Big Water

Another Wollaston Lake northern pike comes to the boat.
Photos by Sandy Hays

At the 2018 Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Asheville, North Carolina, back in April, Wollaston Lake Lodge was announced as this year’s Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year. At the after-party, spent some time talking to Wollaston’s Owner, Mike Lembke, and his son, Dan, who guides at the lodge. They invited me up to see what makes their place so special.

The Turbo Otter is a great way to get around the big lake.

Yesterday, I met up in Winnipeg with my old friend and photographer, Sandy Hays, who accompanies me on most of my fly-fishing adventures. Also making the trip were Tom Evenson, Orvis’s Manager of Pro and Endorsement Programs, and staff videographer Joel Ruby. Bright and early this morning, we boarded a charter flight to the remote Points North Airport (really just a runway in the wilderness of northeastern Saskatchewan), and the took a half hour bus ride to the lodge.

My first fish of the trip seemed a harbinger of great things, but the morning was tough.

It’s an impressive facility, comprising 20 swanky cabins and a gorgeous main lodge building, right on the massive body of water. Wollaston Lake is more than 100 miles long and 40 miles wide, dotted with countless tree-covered islands. The lake and its tributaries are home to northern pike, walleye, lake trout, and grayling.

After a quick bite to eat, we geared-up and hopped in the lodge’s beautiful floatplane, a de Havilland Turbo Otter, for a 20-minute flight north to a part of the lake called Sandy Bank. Sandy and I got in Dan’s boat, while Joel and Tom were guided by Phil.

This size pike fights extremely hard and strikes with aggression.

Fishing a 10-Weight Helios 3D–rigged with a floating line, heavy leader with a wire bite tippet, and a big black streamer–I laid into my first Wollaston pike on about my tenth cast. As the fly got with fifteen feet of the boat, a big female appeared behind it. I slowed my retrieve and gave the fly a few sharp twitches, and watched in amazement as the pike flared its gills and inhaled the streamer. After the fish demonstrated he strength with a few short but powerful runs, Dan tailed her at the side of the boat. He estimated her length to be about 38 inches. An auspicious start.

The visual nature of pike fishing is exciting.

However, things were pretty slow all morning. We moved several big fish, landed a few smaller ones, and moved around a lot trying to find more aggressive fish. It wasn’t until after lunch that things heated up. Sandy and I ended up bringing more than 20 fish to the boat, the biggest of which was a 42-incher that Sandy stuck in a narrow slot where a bay emptied into the main lake. When we reconnoitered with Tom and Joel, we learned that they had caught some big fish, as well, including a 44-incher that ate a slider on the surface.

We returned to the lodge sun-baked, tired, and happy. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *