There are still places left hidden on this planet where your wildest dreams of beauty and serenity exist. Not a long time ago, I met someone who has been living in this paradise for the past twenty years. Dr. Resnick; the man of the moment visits this unique place annually.
I asked him for an interview, and he did not hesitate for a second. In the time we spent talking about this place and after seeing all the amazing photographs, I have decided to go on a trip like Dr. Resnick’s. When is this trip going to happen? That is another story...
Great Bear Lake belongs to the Northwest Territories. It is in the northwestern part of the country, astride the Arctic Circle. The biggest lake that entirely lies within Canada is the forth biggest in North America and the eighth largest in the world. The lake is 12,300 square miles and has a maximum depth of 1,464 feet, charted just off the shoreline of Port Radium. The average depth is around 300 feet. The lake, which is ice-bound for eight months of the year, is 190 miles long by 110 miles wide. Since the lake never reaches above 52 degrees, the lake remains so clear that you can see over 100 feet to bottom. Temperature in shallows reaches above 52, which is not the place to find big lake trout. The most popular species in the lake are lake trout, arctic grayling, arctic char and pike. The lake trout fishing is so great that nine out of the ten biggest lake trout come from the lake. There is also trophy grayling and char fishing in the lake. To fish a lake like this is a dream come true for most anglers however a trip like this is not cheap. Only some of us can spend $4500 without causing any major disturbance at home or significant sacrifice. Dr. Resnick has been fortunate enough to go on many of these trips, so he had a lot to sharel about his extraordinary experiences while fishing Great Bear Lake.
Marek Bucko: When did you go to Great Bear Lake for the first time?
Dr. Resnick: I went there for the first time in 1979, since then it's been an annual tradition with the exception of a year or two. I always go there with the same group of friends. The atmosphere that we create; incredible fishing, and unbelievable service are all good reasons why I return year after year. Anglers will fall in love with the memories that are provided by the scenery itself. This guarantees them to go back once again or at least share their experiences with fellow anglers and friends.
M.B.: So I'm assuming that after so many trips you have reached the point of full capacity?
Dr. R.: Feeling fished out, doesn't exist, although I have successfully caught many fish. If the weather cooperates with us, we are able to catch around 100 fish a day between two people. Right now I'm only interested in catching a big one. Don't even bother with fish that are smaller than twenty pounds unless there are no other fish around. One of the unwritten rules says that you shouldn't photograph yourself with a fish smaller than 20 lbs. People interested in small fish can bring their numbers to a thousand in one week. Small fish are only caught for mid-day which only means that it's time for a shore meal. I remember one year, one of my friends told us about 100+ pike caught in less than three hours of fishing. They were so active that no matter what kind of lure you were using, you would be catching fish.
M.B.: Let’s concentrate on pike. Why don’t you catch them anymore?
Dr. R.: Pike are big attractions for American anglers. For some unexplained reason they are in love with them. Canadians are different. We like the adrenaline rush in our blood when we have the big one on the end of our line. At this point it doesn't matter what kind of fish it is whether it's a laker, grayling or char. First timers usually start off with the pike fishing but end after only one trip.
M.B.: What conditions we can expect there and the accommodations?
Dr. R.: If you are going on a trip to Great Bear Lake weather should be considered. Every year is different. I remember some of our trips in July; we found the lake covered with ice. Fishing in these conditions was almost impossible and we were forced to move to another location. Another important factor that can influence your fishing conditions is strong chilling wind. During that period, the temperature can drop from twenties during the day, to 2-3 above zero. On the top of that is hard to navigate fishing boat while waves are reaching 5-6 feet. Accommodations are truly amazing. Purchasing the whole package provides the freedom and a worry free environment. Three meals, private two person rooms with showers, a boat, gasoline, and a guide for a 10 hour day. Everything is included and nothing omitted. Right after breakfast everybody goes fishing. If 10 hours is not enough, then an additional ten dollars per hour per person can be added to get the guide for the rest of the day. The boat and gasoline is free. The whole facility can accommodate 30 people at a time. This year was different because most people cancelled their arrival and the group consisted of 8 people. During the week several anglers came in for a few days. If it comes to choosing a location, Plummer's can offer you more than one facility. Great Slave Lake (near Yellowknife), Tree River (record size arctic char), Neiland Bay (lake trout, grayling, pike) - are offering two or three days trips. Trophy Lodge (lake trout, grayling, pike, whitefish) is where we were staying but they offer only full week trips.
M.B.: Why Trophy Lodge?
Dr. R.: I prefer this location the most mainly because it's where I got my biggest fish, a 57 lb laker. However I think that I had a bigger one on the line. I had a strike. At first I thought it is a snag but my line was moving like a lakers headshake, from right to left. My guide was convincing me that it's snagged. After a while, I released the tension and my line started to move faster. It was then when I realized how big the fish was. Shortly after, the fish was gone.
M.B.: How was your 2005 trip?
Dr. R.: It was okay. I didn't catch anything big; I mean anything over 30 lbs. but we came so close. One of the first timers that were there caught a 61 lb fish less than 100 yards from where we were fishing. It wasn't that bad since all the guests pulled in a few big lakers in the 30-50 lb range. After so many trips I'm only interested in catching the big ones. One group of guys went for a trip in the remote part of the lake where no one has fished for years. They got lucky by not catching in big numbers but they got fish in a big size.
M.B. : Can you share a few details about your fishing equipment and fishing tactics?
Dr. R.: I was using a solid casting fishing rod, the one that you use while fishing for muskie with 30 lb mono line. We used lures like a Flat Fish along with a variety of spoons that were trolled behind the boat. The fish weren't spooked so we had the bait following our boat approximately 100-150 yards behind. I remember one-day having a shore lunch with another group of anglers. They said that fishing was good enough that day although they weren't catching that many. After exchanging some information, we came to the conclusion that their trolling method was incorrect. Their lures were trolled too close to the boat. When we met them again after swapping information, they thanked us for the very important tip which helped them catch a lot of fish that day. Lake trout were feeding intensively in water temperatures between 9-11C. This information alone should give you a hint were to locate fish. I can recollect one trip when we located water in this particular temperature zone and we got a lot of fish. The other rod that I'm using is strictly designed for grayling fishing. It is an ultra light rod with 6 lb mono line spooled on the reel. A few years back, I caught myself a nice grayling and during the fight, a big laker attacked it. It took me more than 40 minutes, but I was able to pull out a 40lb laker. Jigging is the method used by many anglers in pursuing graylings.
M.B.: How much longer are you going to go to the same lake?
Dr. R.: As long as I stay healthy, I will not stop going. We've already made reservations for next years trip.
I had an incredibly enjoyable time interviewing Dr. Resnick. I viewed some of his pictures from his album and it left me in awe. For me to enjoy all of his pictures, I would need a whole day. Dr. Resnick answered all of my questions including the smallest details, including those regarding transportation and winter conditions on the lake. I've just realized how slow lake trout are growing in cold conditions. In the first ten years of a laker's life, they only grow 2 lbs per year and then half a pound per year. Just doing a simple calculation you can figure out that a 50lb fish is about 100 years old. The biggest fish caught in 2005, belongs to Dixon Cleere who landed a 70-pounder. Other big fish from 2005 include; Neiland Bay: Darryl Dolynny - 42,5 lb; Great Slave Lake: Kelly O'Donnel - 25lb; Great Bear Lake: Dixon Cleere - 71lb.