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Northern Rockies Walleye and Grayling – Episode 508

Original Broadcast Date: January 18, 2020

This was Fish’n Canada’s second shoot of the season based out of Northern Rockies Lodge, but it wasn’t the first-ever visit here. Or should we say it wasn’t Pete’s first? Steve Niedzwiecki however, was virgin to this exquisite destination and for the entire stay, he was in awe!

Trip #1 of this awesome western Canada adventure had the boys boarding one of the lodge’s gorgeous floatplanes and making a return visit to Maxhamish Lake for Walleye. That’s correct, Walleye north of the Rockies in BC.

If you are a true Fish’n Canada television fan, then you’ll remember Angelo and his grandson Nik took a trip to this exact location a couple of seasons ago in their very successful Walleye and Lake Trout episode. As fate would have it, Ang was so impressed with this unassuming looking lake, that it stayed in his mind ever since that first visit. In fact, he and Pete tried their hand at Maxhamish Walleye on a subsequent trip and simply put, “laid a beating on em”.

Unfortunately, during that second shoot, almost 100% of the footage became corrupted and thus, an episode never happened. Between that trip and going back to Ang and Nik’s trip, where the “freelance” camera op didn’t push record during Nik’s largest Walleye, the Fish’n Canada crew feels that “the Maxhamish curse” now exists.

This doesn’t make Pete and Steve feel at all at ease, however, their goal simply was, to break the curse.

FINDING THE WEED-BED

The flight was as usual spectacular. Mountains and valleys just as you’d expect in the Rockies.

“During the flight in,” Pete says “Urs showed Steve and I a weed-bed that he’s dabbled in experimenting with in the past.”

Pete’s mind started to switch gears, Walleye love weeds.

With the weed-bed in the back of the guy’s heads, they did start out on a sandy point that was extremely successful on the previous trips to Maxhamish. After about an hour of “OK” fishing, it was find-the-weed-bed time. Pete and Steve both dropped a waypoint onto their Navionics app while flying low over the weeds, so finding it was easier than going at it blind.

Notice we didn’t say easy by itself? That’s because this weed-bed is probably a hundred yards long (huge in the weed-bed world). However, it was only about ten feet wide. Essentially a thin strip of weeds that runs in a zigzag, broken up pattern.

Between our guys and Northern Rockies Lodge owner Urs, they did find the weed-bed.

It didn’t take long for Pete and Steve to start catching Walleye and lots of them. As well, there were Northern Pike scattered throughout the area. It was a fish catching frenzy!

It was so good that Pete uttered the words on camera “this may be the best weed-bed I’ve ever fished,” and trust us, he’s fished a lot of weed-beds!

He also stated that if he and Ang, he and Steve, or Ang and Steve had a full day to fish this area, they’d catch at least a hundred fish per guy!

THE MAXHAMISH CURSE?

Unfortunately, before the guys could even come close to fishing the entire weed-bed, a set of ominous storm clouds started creeping towards the guys from across the lake; fast! Of course, the wind followed closely pushing larger and larger waves against the small aluminum boats. With only a little Mercury thrusting the boat along, at what could be compared to a fast troll, it was all the boys could do to make it back to the landing site, stow the boats, load the gear on the plane, and get the heck outta’ there.

Just in time.

Maybe it was the curse of Maxhamish teasing the guys for yet another trip? Who knows. What we do know is, the team “still” hadn’t put a giant Max-Walleye on camera for the audience to see.

Just bad luck or the Fish’n Canada/Maxhamish Curse?

TO THE FROG RIVER

Day two of this BC adventure had Steve and Pete again boarding a floatplane, and flying into yet another extraordinary destination. This time, the Frog River.

Urs has been constantly after our guys to sample his world-class Arctic Grayling fishing, so for him, this was looking to be a wonderful day.

The beauty of Northern Rockies Lodge fly-out fishing is that it’s seemingly a different trip every single time. Yes, one could say that once you’ve flown over the Rockies you’ve seen it all, but if the truth be known, it never gets old.

The Northern Rockies Lodge describes The Frog like this; “Our most westward cabin, the Frog River cabin is situated in a high mountain valley surrounded by spectacular mountain ridges and peaks, great for scenic day hikes. The cabin is especially unique with its location to two different watersheds, the Pacific and Arctic watershed. At the end of the lake is a hidden bonus – a private wild hot spring”.

The Frog River outpost is set in a perfect location about halfway downriver from an almost lake-like area. A short but very scenic boat ride either way from the cabin brings you to sets of rapids, the perfect local for Arctic Grayling.

Steve and Pete traveled downriver first as per Urs’s suggestion.

Just before the fast water, they beached and tied off the small boat, made a short trek through the northern BC forest and then came to an opening showing the downside of the rapids.

“I was chomping at the bit,” says Steve “at firing my first cast into this fast-moving water. It was that spectacular looking”.

Within moments, the fish were starting to come in.

“We learned a valuable lesson here,” Pete says “in that Steve was using straight, light braided fishing line and not getting bit. As soon as he changed to a fluorocarbon leader, it was fish-on!”

“Who would have thought” continues Steve “that these untouched fish still shied away from a not-so-perfect presentation”.

MAKING THE MOVE UP RIVER

The boy’s next stop was a small in-flow from a mountain creek that was fed from high above.

Here the guys could actually see the Grayling swimming around about 10 feet off of shore near the fast incoming creek.

Again, the guys started picking off fish after fish in the gin-clear water.

While Steve tried his hand at fly fishing (with Urs as his instructor), Pete’s wheels started to turn.

“I packed some 3″ Senko’s in a pumpkin colour before we left,” says Pete “just in case we needed something that somewhat resembled a worm, leech or even a long insect.”

“Well,” Pete continues “my hunch played out”.

He not only caught a Grayling on a nose-hooked unweighted Senko, but as well, he caught one on a drop-shot rig. Probably unheard of, catching a Grayling on a Bass bait.

Their last stop for fishing was upriver from the cabin. Again, the scenery and fishing was nothing short of spectacular.

“No matter where we went on this trip,” says Steve “every stop and in fact every time we turned our heads brought a better scene than the one before it.”

And while Pete and Steve finished off their Grayling shoot, Urs was busy back at the outpost cabin cooking up a perfect supper before the flight out; a steak dinner. Yes, you heard it right!

The perfect ending to the perfect day.

A COUPLE OF FIRSTS

The beauty of having fishing as a pastime, a favourite sport, or even doing it for a living is that there’s always “more” that can be done.

On this day trip, Steve caught his first-ever Arctic Grayling, a true bucket-lister for him.

As for Pete, he caught his first-ever Rocky Mountain Whitefish (Mountain Whitefish)… one more for his species list as well.

THINGS TO BRING TO THE FROG RIVER

  • Light Spinning gear with either fluorocarbon line or monofilament in around the 6lb test range
  • Small spinners with both gold and silver blades
  • Snap-swivels (to prevent line twist with spinners)
  • Small spoons like EGB
  • Split-shot weights
  • A small pair of pliers or forceps
  • Polarized glasses
  • Hip or chest waders (the lodge supplies some, but bring your high-end waders if you have them)
  • Rain Gear
  • Small trout style net
  • Camera (it would be a travesty if you forgot this one) or phone with a camera (there’s no cell service, but you’ll save the day for pictures)

SPECIAL THANKS

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