Arctic Adventure Diary: Tough Drilling, But Finally Some Fish

Last week, we finally did some fishing.

The night before, we didn't reach camp until after midnight, and Ted and I decided not to move the next day to allow for some time to fish. The ice is about five feet thick on Great Bear and, despite our power auger, drilling holes was a workout. We'd drill for a bit, then remove the auger and scoop out the slush. Drill some more...scoop out the slush...this went on for awhile before we had a clear fishing hole.

We started fishing in water 30-feet deep, which is the depth at which I catch lake trout back in Ontario. But we came up empty as we were having problems getting our tube jigs past all the slush and down the hole. The second spot we fished wasn't much deeper than the first one, and we fished there for about 30 minutes before we moved again and started jigging in about 40 feet of water. Again, nothing. I was beginning to worry we'd get skunked.

Back in Deline, Ted and I had heard the bite was off this year--surely, I thought, that was just in front of town and not the entire lake. Then we remembered hearing the lake trout are deeper at this time of year, so we looked at our depth chart and moved to where there was 60 feet of water.

I jigged with a large Five of Diamonds spoon...and felt a strike. The fight was just awesome. We'd come here to fish, and finally all of the packing and miles traveled and cold nights had paid off. I brought the fish up as quickly as I could--being careful not to lose tension. (I was fishing barbless hooks, which is a NWT law.) When I pulled the fish out of the hole, it was a beautiful sight: brilliant orange fins and a decent 10 pounds.

I was cleaning the fish, removing the thick fillets of the dark orange meat,m when Ted hooked up. His fish got to the top of the hole and there was a bit of a scramble to land it because the hook came out, but because the ice was so thick the fish didn't have anywhere to swim so we were able to grab it and pull it out. We let that one go, since we already had a lot to eat.

I had one more tangle with a fish that got away and then we headed back to camp as we watched the sun set on the horizon of Great Bear. Soon we'd be enjoying our first wild feast of this already wild adventure.