This shoot had transcended from past Fish’n Canada shoots in where our good friends from Cooper Tire joined us on yet another most excellent Canadian fishing adventure. Those good friends are Roy Armes, Chairman, CEO and President of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Director of Product Management, Scott Jamieson.
Roy was actually the driving force behind getting us here. Since he had business to take care of in Western Canada we all got together and planned this Alberta Pike and Walleye shoot around his schedule. Perfect timing!
We chose Winefred Lake, in northeastern Alberta as our destination for a number of reasons, which, if you’re planning a trip, you’ll want to take note of. First of all, this is a real wilderness lake in a remote area between Cold Lake and Ft. McMurray in the southern Wood Buffalo region of Alberta, meaning fishing pressure is almost non-existent. It is essentially a big bowl gouged out by glaciers and has about 47 square miles of surface to fish on. But more importantly, it’s the management of the fishery that makes this lake so special.
With only a handful of trophy Northern Pike lakes in this part of the country narrowing it down to Winefred wasn’t that difficult.
We met at the small airport in Peterborough Ontario… us in our Ram and the Cooper guys in their Bombardier Challenger 200 twinjet aircraft… whew… and we thought our truck was a cool ride! This was gonna’ be good.
After a very relaxing flight, we landed in Fort McMurray Alberta. Next we took a four hour drive and finally arrived at beautiful Winefred Lake Lodge.
Our good friend and Alberta fishing guide Ray Kohlruss, drove in from north of Edmonton to meet us at the Lodge with our Princecraft boats, and we were good to go. Winefred Lake Lodge, a five star wilderness fishing resort, has imposed their own limits on walleye and pike. The fish in this lake grow very slowly since they have a relatively short growing season of 3-4 months, which makes this self imposed no kill policy on walleye and only one kill per day on pike 21 inches or less, even more compelling. Catch and release with a zero bag limit was fundamental to establishing a trophy lake here where the average size of walleye is now 3-4 pounds and the average length of pike is 40 inches. Coming here was a no-brainer for us!
LET THE FISHING CHALLENGE BEGIN!
Stepping back a couple of years ago on a previous Fish’n Canada Shoot, Roy caught the biggest pike of his life, a 48 incher on Lake Muskoka, but all this did was stoke a fire in his belly, ever since then he’s been obsessed with catching the holy grail of pike: a 50″+ monster Northern… and there aren’t too many places better than Winefred to shoot for that goal.
“Since there were four us on this trip” says Angelo “I thought it might be fun if Roy and I teamed up and had a little friendly competition; you know, the men against the boys. Needless to say, we got no arguments”! The “Cooper/Fish’n Canada” challenge was about to begin!
We had a little map session, and based on Ang’s previous experiences here, we laid out a game plan; and, because he was the only one with that previous experience, it was simple: “I made sure Roy and I had the prime spot” says Angelo.
As the apex predators here these trophy Northerns aren’t any different than most other pike, they use weed patches as ambush points to chow down, and the biggest accumulation of those, is off Eagle Point up towards the north-east corner of the lake. This point didn’t get its name by accident, eagles and eagle nests are visible along its entire length. It’s more like a peninsula that runs northwest with weed patches running virtually its whole length on the southeast side. The weeds start about 10-15 ft. off shore and run out from there another hundred feet or so, it’s a huge area. A great place to begin the hunt and try to win this competition!
Pete and Scott started their fishing in the middle of the lake casting Swimbaits and Spoons on a big rise that Ray Kohlruss recommended with some weed growth “this was an awesome looking area especially for Walleye” Pete says “and if there’s Walleye, there should be some Pike as well”
This spot turned out good… when the boys could find the weeds but as the day went on, the strong winds pushed them off the mid lake stuff and into more secluded areas. Nothing matched the hump or Eagle point.
After catching so many Pike that the boys couldn’t even begin to count we did come to a conclusion.
End results of the Cooper Fish’n Canada Challenge, Roy and Ang definitely took top honors in length of fish with a giant that Roy boated. Ang estimated it at over 50”. Scott and Pete brought forth a beauty as well with Scott catching a bulbous girthy Northern that would definitely measure in the mid 40’s. We would bet that there wouldn’t be much difference in dead weight with these fish but since Roy’s did hit the holy grail of 50… his fish would have to take top honors.
GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
To get to today’s great pike fishing we first flew from Peterborough to Fort McMurray Alberta. Next we drove south on Highway 63, and then on to Highway 881 to Conklin. We then turned east on Northland Drive and followed signs to Winefred Lake Lodge. With outstanding meals, accommodations and of course great fishing, this destination is classed as one of the top lodges in the province of Alberta.