Nakina fly-in outpost offers endless walleye and trophy pike—all on a budget


Wes Nelson hoists a scrappy “two-footer” pike

Backcountry lakes offer the pleasures of exploration and discovery

Looking out over all the water on an unfamiliar lake can be daunting. But after a few casts, you usually realize just what it means to be in the backcountry. With little angling pressure, the fish population at outpost lakes is so healthy that even barely competent anglers can catch plenty. And if you have good skills and instincts (along with sonar and a good contour map, which we did), you can land a pile of fish.

There’s also immense satisfaction in figuring out a lake’s secrets, and discovering its hot spots. If you enjoy fishing new spots, you can fish new water every day. Or if you’re the kind of angler who likes to hit the ol’ reliable spots over and over, you can do that too.


The author lands a saucy Whittle Lake pike

My group splits the difference. We usually spend the first few days exploring, and then focus on the best spots we’ve found. As I’ll explain in a moment, Whittle offered some unexpected challenges, and it took us a couple of days to crack it open. But once we did, we hammered the fish, and the extra challenge made it all the sweeter.