We’ve just flown out of Fort McMurray for the fishing trip of a lifetime. My nose is glued to the window as we soar over the rugged landscapes of northern Alberta. Untouched forest, clear freshwater lakes and wide blue skies welcome us. I’m here with my dad, my brother and our favourite uncle – it’s a family expedition and we’ve been looking forward to it for months.
The flight takes 90 minutes as we head toward the promise of pristine lakes and fish that all but jump into your boat. We pass above the Peace-Athabasca Delta – impressive as the largest inland freshwater delta in the world. Soon, I catch a glimpse of a cabin rooftop through the trees at the edge of a sparkling lake. Our pilot announces our destination and my heart begins to pound. I can almost feel a big fish tugging on the line. In this unspoiled terrain, we’ll have access to pike that can grow up to 9 kg (20 lb).
Fort McMurray is 400 km (249 mi) north of Edmonton, the two cities where people usually start their flights to here. It won’t take long after we arrive to feel completely relaxed, the hustle and bustle of city life far behind us. It already feels like we’ve landed in paradise.
Ultimate in Fresh Water Fishing
This far north, the summer sun is warm, the days are long and darkness never really settles. If you want to tell your friends a big fish story where you actually hooked a freshwater trophy fish instead of having to describe the one that got away, Alberta’s fly-in-fishing operators deliver, from early summer right through September.
There’s affordable accommodation to suit everyone’s perception of paradise. Whether you’re in an all-inclusive luxury lodge or a self-catered cabin like ours, it’s the perfect getaway for sport fishing enthusiasts.
We’re here with Mikisew Sport Fishing, which gives us a choice of fishing in any of 10 secluded lakes: Loutit, Barrow, Burstall, Charles, Colin, Cornwall, McLelland, Potts, Ryan and Wylie. We picked McLelland because it’s home to all three species we’re after – pike, walleye and lake trout.
Scenic Wildlife Viewing
We’ve brought our own groceries, rods and tackle, but we packed our binoculars and cameras, too. There are bears, wolves, beavers and eagles that you can spot in the wilderness as you wait for a fish to bite.
Our cozy cabin, which easily sleeps six on comfy foam mattresses, has a stove, fridge, pots and pans and dishes, barbecue and picnic table. At our disposal are three 4.3 m (14 ft) aluminum boats with motors, gas, life jackets and oars. We opted for the self-guided package and when we wave as the pilot takes off, he leaves us to fish, cook for ourselves and enjoy the spectacular scenery at leisure. There’s a satellite phone but I doubt we’ll look at it. The only calls we’ll be taking are those of loons gently waking us to start another day of sport fishing.