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FLY-IN FISHING TRIP — TWIN FALLS LODGE SASKATCHEWAN

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Removing hook from northern pike
Removing hook from northern pike
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Saskatchewan's Churchill River has a reputation for some of the best walleye and northern pike fishing in Canada. We confirmed the river's fame during our fly-in fishing vacation at Twin Falls Lodge (formerly Beyond La Ronge Lodge).

Stopping our boat between the tumbling Twin Falls, lodge operator, Ron Cojocar cast his line toward the rushing water and immediately pulled it back in with a feisty five-pound northern pike attached.

"How did you do that?" we asked. "You get six-inches off the bottom, then just jig," he replied. "The rapids are great feeding grounds."

How to get there

Open from late May to early September, Twin Falls Lodge is located 45 miles (72 kilometers) by air, northeast of La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Full American Plan rates include private charter flights from La Ronge.

Looking down from our float plane, we saw the red buildings of Twin Falls Lodge in a clearing next to the Churchill River. Within minutes of checking into our cabin, we were fishing for walleye.

Aerial view of Twin Falls Lodge and Churchill River
Aerial view of Twin Falls Lodge and Churchill River
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Walleye fishing gear

"I use 3/8-ounce lead head jigs because walleye, or pickerel, as Canadians call them, are bottom-feeders. Some people use barbless hooks, but Saskatchewan law doesn't say we have to use them. It does say you can't use live bait, so I use a Mister Twister Tail instead," explained Cojocar.

As if to demonstrate its efficacy, he pulled up a brassy gold walleye within a few minutes. "During the spring, when walleye spawn, males chase the females. If you have a female on your hook, there could be two or three males right on her tail. If you are fast enough with the dip net, you can catch two or three walleye at one time!"

We looked at him with raised eyebrows. "Everybody thinks that this is a fish story, but it actually happened twice this year," stated Cojocar.

Shore lunch

By now, we had caught enough fish for a shore lunch, and our stomachs told us that it was time to eat. Pulling up on the rocky shore of an island, we gathered some wood and, using dry moss as tinder, built a crackling fire.

Shore lunch of fried fish, potatoes, onions and beans
Shore lunch of fried fish, potatoes, onions and beans
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Walleye recipe

Ron Cojocar filleted the fish and shook them in a bag with flour, salt and pepper. To our surprise, he opened a package of lard and spooned big globs of it into the cast iron fry pan.

"I'm cooking walleye the way our Cree fishing guides do it," he said. "Oil doesn't get hot enough. You can sear the pickerel right away with lard, but with oil, the fish just soaks it up and becomes mushy."

While Cojocar cooked the fish, we sliced up some potatoes and onions and fried them until brown and crisp in another cast iron pan. The green wooden box that he had brought from the lodge contained more shore lunch ingredients: a can of baked beans, which he opened and heated over the hot coals, a loaf of freshly baked bread and a large tin can, which he filled with lake water to boil for fresh coffee. (Churchill River water is virtually untouched by pollution.)

Northern pike fishing

It is well-known that walleye is one of the best eating fish in Canada, but it was the northern pike that surprised us. They were just as tasty as the walleye.

Normally, jacks (as anglers call northern pike up here) are cussed by the uninitiated as slimy snakes, unfit to eat. But the cold Churchill River prevents the fish from tasting "lakey."

Properly boned and fried-up fresh, northern pike are hard to distinguish from walleye. "Our Cree guides always chuckle when fishermen, who refuse to eat northern pike, come back for second and third helpings, convinced that it is walleye," said Cojocar with a grin.

Twin Falls Lodge cabin beside Churchill River
Twin Falls Lodge cabin beside Churchill River
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Twin Falls Lodge

Cojocar is not above playing pranks on the fishermen at Twin Falls Lodge, either. Over the fireplace, in the cozy dining room, is a large northern pike mounted with a spoon (kitchen-variety) hanging from its mouth.

On the mantel, sits a sign: "Complaint Department: Push for service," next to a squirrel-trap that's wired open.

Beside it, there is a homemade moose call. (Ron Cojocar has a camp for outpost fishing at Robertson Lake, which he uses for hunting in the fall.)

"Guys like to blow on the moose call, because they've always dreamed of moose-hunting," he explained. What he doesn't tell them is that the pipe curls up toward the user's face and it's loaded with flour!

Fly-in fishing lodges

It was obvious that guests come to fly-in fishing lodges for more than walleye and northern pike fishing. Ron Cojocar says it best: "They come for the tranquility of Saskatchewan's Churchill River. They come to bring their blood pressure down."


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Twin Falls Lodge: http://adventuredestinations.ca/lodges/twin_falls_lodge

Tourism Saskatchewan: www.sasktourism.com

More things to see & do in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Vacations - What To See and Do

Missinipe, Saskatchewan - What To See and Do

Stanley Mission Historic Site and Nistowiak Falls on Churchill River SK

Jet Boating in Churchill River from Otter Lake Resort

Hike Trail to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park