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Great Start to a Father-son N.W.T. Fishing Adventure

Riley Walsh

My son, Riley, and I just got off the water after fishing all day for northern pike out of Yellow Dog Lodge in the N.W.T. We’re here doing valuable field research and practical work for an upcoming feature for Outdoor Canada, a father-son fishing travelogue, as it were, with this fine lodge as the backdrop.

Riley is just 15, and while he likes fishing, he’s not hard-core like his old man—especially when the fish are not biting. Well, 33-year-old Yellow Dog Lodge (let’s call it YDL) offers just the ticket for this conundrum: many, many fish willing to bite, so that not only does Riley not get bored, I get to fish to my heart’s content.

Just 56 kilometres by float plane north of Yellowknife, YDL sits alongside a short river connecting two lakes: Duncan and Graham. Leave the lodge from one side and head down to the docks and you’re fishing Duncan, primarily for pike. Exit the doors on the other side and head on down to another set of docks and you’re fishing Graham, this time for lake trout.

Today it was Duncan, and we were not disappointed. It really was a numbers game for the most part; I didn’t bother counting the fish, as there was no end of eager hammer handles and better willing to take my streamer flies and Riley’s hardware—all thanks to our great guide, Garrett Fyfe. Not that we didn’t have some chances with several 40-inch-plus fish, as we saw a few in the skinny water of the weedy bays we were fishing. At least Riley nabbed a 38-incher. And we have plenty of time to work on size, as we’ll be here until Friday. As Garrett said, “Not a bad day. If the wind had of been down we would have caught a lot bigger fish.”

We arrived yesterday afternoon, and in short order we were back in the Cessna and lifting off Graham for yet another lake, Johnston, which lodge owner Gord Gin added to his stable of angling offering just this year. The game here? Walleye. Yes, that’s right, walleye north of 60, and no doubt at the northern extreme of their range. Fishing Johnston was also a numbers game, with Riley also catching the big fish of the day, a six-pounder. Just awesome.

Tomorrow, the plan is to troll Graham for lakers or head back to Duncan for another crack at 40-inch-plus gators, depending on conditions. Also on the fishing menu in the days ahead: Arctic grayling. But most of all, the plan is to just keep having fun.

Riley Walsh and two of his nice walleye from Yellow Dog Lodge's fly out to Johnston Lake
Riley Walsh and two of his nice walleye from Yellow Dog Lodge’s fly out to Johnston Lake
Riley Walsh and his 38-incher from Yellow Dog Lodge's Duncan Lake
Riley Walsh and his 38-incher from Yellow Dog Lodge’s Duncan Lake

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh is Outdoor Canada's Editor-in-Chief and Brand Manager. He grew up fishing and hunting in Bracebridge, Ontario, where he began his magazine career in 1983 as assistant editor of Muskoka Life magazine. Since then, he has worked for a variety of media, both in Canada and abroad, earning numerous writing and editing awards. In 2005, 2011 and 2012, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named him Editor of the Year, while Outdoor Canada was honoured as Magazine of the Year (in the medium circulation category). Walsh has been at the magazine's helm since 2000.