Every fisher has a “secret gear recipe” that spells success at their own favorite fishing hole. But what do you do when you’re taking a trip to a new fishing spot? How do you know what to bring to “spell success” at a fishing spot that’s new to you? Sure, some of it’s a no-brainer (e.g., don’t forget your underwear). But what rod should you bring for Pike vs. Trout? How cold will the weather be in Canada?
Here at Big Sand Lake Lodge, we’re used to these sorts of questions. We’ve been leading sports on trophy fishing trips into Canada’s remote lakes and rivers for years. We know a thing or two about outfitting for success.
Check out our recommendations on things to pack for your next big fishing trip in Canada below.
ID: You’ll need proper identification for a Big Sand Lake Lodge trip. A driver’s license won’t be enough—make sure you have a birth certificate or a passport. Ideally, bring both.
CLOTHING: If you’re headed up our way—Manitoba, Canada—you’ll want to dress warm. The weather can be unpredictable and shift from sunny and warm to subzero temperatures, snow, and rain in a single day. Make sure you pack:
- A pair of well-worn leather hiking boots in good condition
- Good quality wool socks
- Thinner socks to wear as a “liner” under the wool socks
- Two pairs of wool or polyester long underwear
- Two pairs of wool trousers
- Two warm wool or heavy flannel shirts
- One pair of warm leather gloves and one pair of wool gloves
- Rain pants (get these in camouflage, and get a good quality—not plastic)
- Underwear and t-shirts/undershirts
- A hat and a stocking cap
- A lightweight down jacket with a hood (note: please wear this jacket on the plane into camp to save on room in your bag)
PERSONAL EFFECTS: Here are some items that we see here over and over again that are just plain common sense, but can be easily overlooked when planning:
- Medicines and toiletry items
- Camera, film (if applicable), and chargers
- A small flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries
PACKING: When packing for a Canadian fishing trip, keep the weight of your personal gear to 40 to 50 pounds—THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Make sure that you pack your gear in a soft covered travel bag, like a heavy-duty nylon duffle bag or sport bags. This makes it much easier to load and maximizes aircraft loads. Be aware that due to aircraft weight limitations, overweight baggage may have to be left behind. For that reason, absolutely no coolers are permitted as part of your luggage. If you insist on bringing a cooler on a Big Sand Lake Lodge trip, you can leave it in Winnipeg and, upon returning from your fishing trip, you can use it to transport your fish home.
FISHING RODS: We recommend three rods—two spinning and one bait casting. One-piece graphite is great, but it’s difficult to pack for flying. Go with a two-piece graphite that’s seven or eight feet long. They fit neatly in a hard tube for traveling, and it’s the only way to avoid losing a tip on the way up or back.
We love ultralight tackle here, but it’s a gamble due to the size of the fish. A good compromise is a lightweight spinning rod and reel with 8-pound test monofilament line. For a casting rod, consider braided line, 17- to 20-pound test. And, of course, you’ll need six-inch titanium leaders. We have rods and tackle available for sale at Big Sand Lake Lodge if you’re looking to catch a specific fish.
LURES: An assortment of jigs, spinners, bucktails, spoons of various colors and sizes, and lots of casting baits that look like little frogs, minnows, and mice. If you’re unsure about what’s hot, we’ll be happy to tell you upon your arrival at the lodge. If you don’t have it, we’ll have it at our tackle store. Remember that all lures, jigs, etc. must be barbless to help us practice safe catch and release. We only keep what we eat for shore lunch. All the “big boys” get photographed, measured, and returned to the lake to thrill the next fisherman.
Got your eyes set on a specific trophy catch? Here are some general guidelines for catching our favorites:
Arctic Grayling: A light action spinning rod or 3- to 5-weight fly rod with monofilament line is recommended. Try small spoons and spinners on spinning tackle—they have small mouths.
Lake Trout: For gear, try a 9- or 10-weight fly rod with an intermediate sinking line. On spinning gear, try for 5- to 7-inch spoons or diving plugs, which mimic smaller trout.
Northern Pike: For lures, try in-line spinners, spoons, minnow-imitating plugs, spinnerbait, jig-and-worms, and surface plugs.
Walleye: For success, try using a light, thin diameter line to decrease drag, and add a plastic body to a jig to increase the surface area when the fish starts sucking. Then, bounce the bait and shorten your stroke to snag ‘em in no time.
A fishing trip to Canada’s lakes can easily be the trip of a lifetime. Monster trophy fish await, and you can even pursue the “big brag” itself, the Canadian Grand Slam.
To make your trip one to remember, book a trip with the folks at Big Sand Lake Lodge in Manitoba, Canada. Every year, Big Sand Lake Lodge guides help their sports catch and release 20–30+ pound northern pike; 50+ pound lake trout; 3-4 pound (average) walleye; and trophy-sized Arctic grayling. Located in Canada’s remote wilderness, Big Sand Lake Lodge offers fishing at its best. Contact us today!