The early-morning July sunrise lit the way as my wheels hit the pavement heading east to Saskatchewan. Country music played quietly in the background as my mind raced ahead. What lure would I start with? What technique would work best? What species to target first?
The five-hour drive to the Saskatoon airport went by in no time. With all my gear in tow, I was greeted by a very friendly attendant. Hearing of my solo fishing trip to Northern Saskatchewan brought up a story of her first fishing trip as a child. I walked away smiling.
As I waited to board the plane, I looked at my phone again to study Wollaston Lake on Google Earth and satellites.pro maps. I viewed the lake’s layout—its stand-alone islands, shallow areas, many arms jutting out from the main lake and the countless bays. This trip would encompass many variations of terrain and underwater structure.
Wollaston Lake is 2,681 square kilometers and can reach depths of over 91 meters. The world’s largest bifurcation lake drains into Lake Athabasca to the northwest and eventually reaches the Arctic Ocean. On the northeast side, Wollaston empties into Reindeer Lake and ultimately connects with Hudson Bay.
This world-class freshwater lake is home to four distinct species of fish: northern pike, lake trout, arctic grayling and walleye. The only lodge you can fly or drive to on Wollaston Lake, Wilderness Family Outfitters (WFO), is located on the southwest shore. I was headed there to find trophy fish.
As the plane landed on the Points North Airport runway, I couldn’t help but wonder what fishing adventures awaited me on my eight-day trip. I exited the aircraft and walked across the tarmac to grab all my fishing tackle, multiple quantum rods, 100MPh Gore-tex rain gear and rubber boots. I was ready for all the weather conditions and experiences that would unfold in the coming days.
The WFO truck was waiting to pick me up. Talk of the fishery, tackle and techniques that would work best in July filled the 45-minute drive back to the lodge. As the truck turned southward and followed the winding, scenic road, the breathtaking beauty of Northern Saskatchewan began to unfold before us. Among the tall pine trees, I caught glimpses of Wilderness Family Outfitters’ charming cabins perched on the hillside. Each offered a stunning view of the spectacular Wollaston Lake.
I was warmly welcomed by the Jacobs family: Bruce, Mariam and their son, Cory, who have owned Wilderness Family Outfitters for the past five years. I settled into my log cabin with its picture-perfect lake view and quickly unpacked before dinner.
That evening Mariam cooked an incredible fish pasta dinner. The inviting open concept of the rustic main lodge set the stage for sharing fishing tales and laughter with the family during meals.
The following morning, I rose with the sun and waited patiently for the day to begin. The delightful aroma of Mariam’s home-cooked waffles, eggs benedict, and freshly brewed coffee filled the air as I made my way to the lodge.
For several days, Brendon and I loaded our gear into a 16-foot aluminum boat with a 40-hp Mercury motor. We explored Wollaston Lake’s remarkable and diverse ecosystem, which offered a wealth of hidden fishing treasures and mysteries for us to uncover.
The sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and sandbars offered a serene and picturesque backdrop for all my angling activities. The wind-blown bays were choked with submerged cabbage weeds, and they provided an ideal habitat for landing my trophy pike. The deep, dark trout holes where I jigged for big lake trout added to the challenge of exploring the lake’s depths.
Some moments took my breath away. Large pike roaming just under the top of the water and then surfacing as they exposed their long, dark bodies and dorsal fins; the lonesome yodel of a loon in the distance. With bald eagles soaring above, a hidden crystal-clear bay filled with schools of whitefish and pike and the spectacular northern lights.
After many awe-inspiring experiences, I couldn’t wait for my next adventure.
As the first rays of sunlight hit my face and the boat headed towards the eastern horizon, the early light sparkled like magic before blending into the stillness of the water. With the crisp air biting at my skin, energizing me with each breath, the boat’s bow cut through the calm surface. Everything inside me knew it would be a spectacular day.
The engine stopped and a giant pike caught our focus in eight to 12 feet of glasslike water. I saw the submerged weed flats and watched the pike follow my hook to the boat. It would not commit, but I continued to cast my super glow Len Thompson Five of Diamonds with patience and persistence.
Suddenly and with intent, my lure was being pulled through the water, my line peeling from the reel as it disappeared into the weeds. I could feel the weight of this fish in my shaking hands as I tried to regain some of the line. She was not ready to surface, and her pure strength and determination kept her submerged as she ran the weed flat. The battle wore on as she demonstrated her size, pulling my line through the weeds left and right. Trying to find slack in the line to spit the hook out, she continued to fight. I gave her time.
Maintaining a tight line and trusting my Quantum fishing rod, I tightened the drag and began reeling in smoothly and consistently. This northern pike was tough, and she tried to take another run, but she was exhausted and surrendered herself to me. With one gentle scoop, Brendon netted her. I reached into the warm water, moving my fingers along her gill plate and, pliers in hand, removed the spoon. I positioned my other hand just behind her pelvic fins to steady her considerable weight for a swift photo and measurement.
As I leaned over the boat to place her gently in the water, I slid my left hand behind the pectoral fins, and my right hand held her tail. I knew she was ready to be released when I felt the strength of her tail move from side to side. I gently let my hands fall away, and she returned to her habitat on Wollaston Lake.
With so many fish caught and released, I had such an enjoyable and rewarding experience that I forgot everything else that day—including lunch. I grabbed a few snacks and a sip of water, but for the most part, I was too busy reeling in fish to worry about eating.
However, as the sun descended lower in the sky, it was the perfect time to indulge in freshly cooked fish over an open fire. We chose to settle on a serene, sandy shoreline that overlooked a tranquil bay. The enticing scent of our just-caught fish sizzling over the flames made my mouth water in anticipation. The pan-fried potatoes and corn complimented the golden and crispy fish. As we sat down to take our first few bites, I enjoyed the delicious flavors and the simple pleasures of good food and good company in a beautiful natural setting.
This day, as the gentle breeze brushed through my hair and the last warm sun kissed my skin, I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the moment. The spectacular view of the sunset unfolding before my eyes made me realize that I would one day return to Wollaston Lake.