The fishing season is almost upon us. Have you made your reservation at Big Sand Lake Lodge in Northern Manitoba yet? We’re almost full but there are still spots open for the five-day trip beginning on June 30th. If you miss this opportunity, you’ll have to wait an entire year to have the chance to experience some of the best fresh water fishing in the world. Trophy Lake Trout (seven of the ten largest lake trout caught in Manitoba last year were caught in Big Sand Lake), Monster Northern Pike, Walleyes by the thousand and Arctic Grayling, hard to find in other lakes but abundant in many spots on Big Sand.


Have you got your tackle in order? I typically take three rods, two spinning, one bait casting, for my Canadian fishing trips. I love ultralite tackle but it is a bit of a gamble to fish ultralite at Big Sand because you never know when a trophy lake trout or pike is going to snag onto your bait or onto the walleye you are reeling in. My compromise for Big Sand is a light weight spinning rod and reel with 8-pound test monofilament line. My heavier spinning rod and reel is loaded with 12-pound monofilament. Some guys prefer heavier line but I like the challenge of landing big fish on light tackle. For my casting rod, which is what I’ll use when fishing for trout or pike, I like braided line, 17-20 pound test. And, of course, you’ll need six-inch titanium leaders unless you are prepared to surrender your favorite lures to the big boys.


What kind of rod? One piece graphite is great but too difficult to pack for flying. I go with a two-piece graphite, seven or eight feet long. They fit neatly in a hard tube for traveling, the only way to avoid losing a tip on either the way up or back.


Lures? I have an assortment of jigs, spinners, bucktails, spoons of various colors and sizes and lots of casting baits that look like little frogs, minnows, mice. You name it—I’ve probably got it somewhere in my tackle box. I love floating lures that you can work on or just under the surface of the water, pull over weed beds, etc. If you are unsure about what’s hot, we’ll be happy to tell you upon your arrival at the lodge and if you don’t have it, we will 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 which means all the big boys get photographed, measured and returned to the lake to wait for the next fisherman.

If you’re thinking, I missed my chance this year, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are still scattered openings at both the main lodge and outpost camps in June, especially the June 30-July 5 slot. No better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than experiencing the fireworks at Big Sand Lake when one of the thousands of trophy fish are on the end of your line. Want to know more? It’s easy. Just give Big Rick or Lynda a call at 1-800-348-5824. I’ll be at the lodge in late June as well and will be happy to regale you with stories of my days working at Playboy for Hugh Hefner….but only if you’re interested. See you there!

Gary Cole