Why the NWT’s Great Slave Lake is heaven for trout anglers

The Other Great Lake

Often overshadowed by Great Bear Lake, the N.W.T.’s Great Slave offers stunning scenery, affordable access and endless lake trout

Scott Gardner
Scott Gardner

The Snake Pit and the Goldmine

On Slave, most anglers focus on trout, but Lynn and I wanted to sample more of the menu. So one calm, sunny day, we travelled 90 minutes east to the Snake Pit which is, by far, the best name I’ve ever heard for a northern pike hole. It was late in the season for pike, but as we drifted around a broad, lightly weeded bay, I managed to land an energetic 34-inch northern on my 8-weight fly rod, while Lynn hauled in 37- and 38-inch fish on a Johnson Silver Minnow (top).

Scott Gardner
Scott Gardner

After some good, slimy fun, we moved on to the nearby Goldmine. It was an unremarkable, boulder-strewn shoreline, seemingly identical to hundreds of other such areas. For some reason, however, it was home to all the Arctic grayling in the world. Or so it seemed. They were also big—most longer than 20 inches—and hungry, attacking our small spinners and flies with the enthusiastic abandon of a kids’ hockey team at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Ever since I first saw pictures of grayling as a boy, I’ve longed to catch one on a light fly rod and marvel at its sailfish-like fin and shimmering grey, mauve and blue body. At the Goldmine, I finally got to, many times over (above).

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