If you could only wet a line for one species of fish in your home province or territory, what would it be? That’s the question we asked ourselves at Outdoor Canada when selecting our 2019 Canadian fishing hot spots. For more bucket-list species and hot spots, see our complete list.
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: LAKE TROUT
Lake trout in the Northwest Territories
Why this is one of Canada’s must-have fishing experiences
It’s one of the few undisputable facts in fishing: the N.W.T. is the best place in the world to catch lake trout, with the frigid depths of the territory’s north-country lakes home to a simply astonishing number of truly giant fish. If you catch a 20-pound laker anywhere else, it will likely be your fish of the season. In the N.W.T., however, when you get a 20-pounder, you admire it for a moment, then quickly release it so you can keep hunting for an actual big one. Fish of 30 pounds are common, and on these trophy waters, any bite could be a leviathan of double that size.
But Far North trout aren’t just heavy. Life in the Arctic also makes these lakers thickly muscled and shockingly powerful. They don’t fight fancy, like their rainbow trout or Atlantic salmon cousins, but lakers will doggedly pull and dive and pull, stressing tackle—and the angler—to the breaking point.
Incredibly, the world-record 72-pound laker caught on Great Bear Lake in 1995 has been informally bested more than once. Registering a new record requires killing the fish, however, which the anglers refused to do and let their records swim away. There’s no better measure of the awe and devotion inspired by these magnificent fish than that.
WHEN TO GO: July and August
HOT TACTIC: Vertically jig a paddletail swimbait on a heavy jig