This episode is a classic example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. Had Angelo done so, we probably would have missed out on a great opportunity to discover yet another tremendous Canadian fishing adventure.
OIL TOWN / FISHING MECCA
We got a call from the CEO of Fort McMurray Tourism in Alberta, making wild claims of giant Pike and Walleye that were being caught at a lake called Winefred. “Now I don’t know about you, but I always thought Fort McMurray was an oil town, not a fishing Mecca,” says Angelo. “Right? Wrong!”
It doesn’t take much to get Ang’s attention, especially when you start talking about 20+ lb Northerns in a secluded gem of a lake surrounded by Boreal Forest.
“My partner for today’s adventure is good friend Patrick Walsh, Editor and Chief of this country’s most influential national outdoors publication, Outdoor Canada Magazine. Patrick and I have known each other for years but have never had the opportunity to travel and fish together. That’s all about to change. This might be the beginning of a beautiful thing or the end of a wonderful friendship.”
Winefred Lake is a large body of water located in the northeastern quadrant of Alberta. It’s actually in the most southerly reaches of the municipality of Wood Buffalo which stretches all the way up to the border of the Northwest Territories.
Situated between Cold Lake and Fort McMurray, the remote but accessible Winefred Lake Lodge, home base for today’s episode, is 50 miles away from the closest community—the hamlet of Conklin, Alberta. If you have any phobias about being in the wilderness this is not for you.
“Although this lake is known primarily for its insane Walleye fishing, Patrick and I both agreed that we would focus our attention on Winefred Lake’s trophy size Northern Pike. And it didn’t take long for the action to begin,” says Ang.
THE BUSINESS END OF A FISHING ROD
In this episode, Angelo states that it’s great to see Patrick in action on the business end of a fishing rod. But make no mistake about it: This guy is one of the best magazine executives in the industry. It’s no coincidence that he’s in charge of Canada’s biggest national outdoor publication.
“One of the most satisfying elements of my job is the opportunity to share great fishing experiences with others. And being able to broadcast those moments with a television audience puts it over the top. I think Patrick feels the same about his job.”
There is very little mapping available for this body of water, and so little is known about the fishing patterns that you could spend days or weeks hunting down these giant freshwater predators. Fortunately for Ang and Pat, another friend of Fish’n Canada, well known Alberta guide Ray Kohlruss was on hand for the search. Ray has some firsthand experience fishing the giant gators of Winefred.
“Although we were faced with post cold front conditions, these big burly critters were still quite willing to bite,” says Ang. “I can only imagine how aggressive they’d be if they were really cranked up.” From then on it was monster Pike time—lots of pulling, splashing and screaming!
“Both big and small baits seemed to work. Everything from a Double Willow spinnerbait with number seven blades to a minuscule little inline spinner that is normally thrown for Walleye.”
A BEAUTIFUL GEM
Angelo says of Patrick, “You know, for a magazine guy he’s not half bad. Although I’ve known Patrick forever, I’ve never seen this side of him. I’ve got to say, fishing definitely brings out the best in him.”
Encouraging words coming from a Canadian Anglers Hall of Fame inductee.
Together, Ang and Pat went on to not only bust the Alberta cold front’s attempt to slow down the fishing but also spent some overdue quality time together. And what better place than on this beautiful gem of a lake in Northern Alberta?
Next trip: Walleye. That’s for sure!