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In the land where big creatures roam
By Mike Jackson | Daily Herald Outdoors Writer

Mike Jackson, right, and guide Dave McSween show off a 36-pound lake trout.


Courtesy of Mike Seeling

This is the jumbo Flatfish lure that landed a 36-pound lake trout on Kasba Lake in the Northwest Territories.


Courtesy of Mike Seeling

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Published: 12/3/2008 11:54 AM

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KASBA LAKE, Northwest Territories - Angling friend Jerry suggested I chum the waters during these cold, wintry days and whet the appetites of readers.

That is an easy request.

There is a marked difference between the lake trout that swim the waters of Lake Michigan and that species' first Canadian cousin. The Canadian version is wild and strong enough to pull a boat around like it was a feather.

I have become enamored with big Canadian lake trout ever since I fished the world-famous Great Bear Lake in the Arctic. But here on Kasba Lake, one can discover that at any moment a fish of monumental proportions can snap a lure off a leader like a saltine cracker.

I've been to Kasba Lake Lodge before, only that was for big northern pike. I wasn't disappointed then, and I certainly couldn't moan and groan on this outing.

Owned by the outdoorsy Hill family from British Columbia, Kasba Lake Lodge is one of those rare jewels of the far north country. This is a place where the Hills made sure the dining room cuisine is as good as the laker angling.

But I digress.

Photo guru Mike Seeling always has his camera at the ready as we gently cruised over massive, submerged rock reefs.

Mind you, this was July, a time I prefer for sub-Arctic fishing, simply because the weeds should just about be right for pike and even trout.

The action started slowly in shallow water as we trolled spoons and medium-sized crankbaits. We caught countless lake trout in the 8- to 13-pound range.

But I knew the "submarines" had to be in the neighborhood.

"We'll work the mouth of this one river," guide Dave McSween said. "I know there's a good chance some monsters moved in there."

When we arrived at the river mouth, McSween rigged a super-jumbo Flatfish on my leader and then affixed the rig to a small boat downrigger.

"Depth here runs from 12-24 feet," Dave declared, "and the reason for the downrigger is to ensure the lure will ride right on the bottom."

Even with three-way weights attached to our spoons, we had trouble getting those lures deep enough during the slow trolling passes earlier in the day.

On the third "run," my rod shuddered and the line snapped free from the downrigger release. And, of course, my cheering section screamed out, "Fish on!"

I didn't need them to tell me that as I set the hooks. This was a big fish that intended to have nothing to do with our fun and frolicking.

The battle lasted close to 20 minutes, with a lot of give and take going on. Finally, the fish surfaced close to the boat and McSween let out a shout that this was "a biggy."

He netted the brute in one quick movement and hoisted it aboard. The scale read an easy 36 pounds!

Fifteen minutes after that, Seeling nailed a 25-pound trout that went after another jumbo Flatfish.

With our hunger for big fish satiated, McSween steered the boat for the lodge and another hot celebratory meal.

This is big fish country, and if you hanker for large lake trout and pike, you may want to give it a try.