The Land of Giants deep in Canadian history
Pro fly angler Rebekka Redd goes after her all time favorite predators amongst the heart of Canadian fur trading history.
Landing trophy pike all while being at an original Hudson Bay trading post.
Every predatory angler dreams of landing “the big one”, and I’m absolutely part of that crazy group! There are waters in certain parts of the globe that I have fished that have alligators, they nash at and eat anything that comes with in their biting distance, and in Canada they exist as well. They come in colors of emerald-green with silver tones, dappling that cover them from tail to snout and they have piercing predator eyes. Luckily, Northern Ontario has some of the best populations of these mean, gluttonous giants of the depths. The greedy Northern Pike packs a lot of punch for a freshwater game fish, so much so it is my all time favorite fish to catch (and release). There are a few epic locations I can think of that have truly rewarded me with wall worthy photos, and Old Post lodge of Lake St. Joseph set the bar pretty high and I came home with my trophy captured in images.
These brutes hunt for anything that moves, but do not to under estimate the clever and skilled eye of the older trophy 45+ incher pike – there is a reason why they are living – they are wise! Fooling these fish takes skill, patience and the right fly or lure. But once you have a Lake St. Joseph pike, they do their best to pull your arms out of your sockets during the battle! They put on quite the show of tail walking that slices thru the cool northern waters, knuckle busting runs (set that drag) and they are great at displaying their acrobatic abilities of cartwheeling.
It was a hot and humid august morning for my fishing partner, Kyle and I. Truck and boat packed to the brim and ready to embark on the road journey to the famed pike lodge! We drove out of Thunder Bay, and trucked 6 hours west to lake st. Joseph. Giddy with anticipation, we launched my boat and it was a quick 10 min boat ride to the lodge. For anyone who is simply arriving by vehicle just park your car at the launch lot, and the lodge picks you up with their own barge.
I was elated to fish these new waters and visit the famed location of Canadian history.
Deep in the heart of wildly enchanting Northern Ontario is a outstanding lodge situated on a historical location, A TRUE piece of Canadian heritage, that is a must see!
The Old Post Lodge site was one of the first inland trading posts ever established by The Hudson’s Bay Company, dating back to 1786.
Two centuries later, the Grace Family fell in love with the seventy plus pristine acres and vast sandy beaches of Lake St. Joseph and decided to purchase the historic trading post, along with the surrounding land and buildings. The Grace Family
believed the phenomenal fishing opportunity of Lake St. Joseph provided the perfect location for the development of a world-class sport fishing resort, and after a year of hard work and renovations, opened to the public on June 1, 1987.
Remarkable and unique – this is a lodge like no other I’ve ever been to! The staff, the food, the lodging and the setting is world class but with affordable rates.
At old post the fishing action is relentless – and if you’re up for a double whammy – you can also fish for countless walleye! We kept some for our shore lunch. It’s hard to beat fresh fish for any meal. Jon cooked up a scrumptious shore lunch that would win awards in cooking contests! I’m sure I would go back for the cooking alone!
Each day was better and better catching a ton of pike; it was every angler’s bliss! Till I came upon that one special cast that landed me a true northern gator! I held my breath as my line when bowstring tight and I fought this creature I had traveled the distance for, I let it run, and do it’s antics all along I was grinning uncontrollable with a side of fear it may break the line or some ridiculous thing. However, I saw how well the hook was set and I could actually breath! Jon Grace and my fishing / travel partner Kyle both grabbed the cradle net and with teamwork we landed her quickly and effectively! Victory!! I was incredibly elated and in awe of this beautiful beast! “YES!!!” I roared, on bending knee I picked her up for a quick photo capture and back to her watery depths she went. Jon went above and beyond the call of what he needed to do to guide me to some big pike. He took a plunge in the icy waters to capture some amazing underwater photos of the release! It’s amazing times like these that will forever be in my memories! “ Not a bad day “ I said with a smile and a huge dose of understatement to Jon and kyle. We all laughed and held big grins all the way back to the lodge where we relaxed to an awaiting meal.
Ideal times to fish lake St. Joseph are from May to August. If you are keen on fly-fishing then May and June are excellent and your best bet for top water action.
After an amazing time at Oldpost lodge we set sail back to the main land in my boat and back to civilization. I will always remember the white sandy beaches of the lodge, the incredible shore lunches and the massive pike that swim in the depths.
This is probably one of the most unique Canadian fishing experience you can have!
If you want to catch trophy 40 plus inch, beautiful northern pike and stay in a one of a kind location and lodge, than look no further and book with Old Post lodge.
Gear and INFO:
Only the most robust gear will with stand these green brutes of the north. Make sure you come prepared.
Rod: 10 weight rod for Pike and 7 or 8 wt rod for walleye (I used Thomas and Thomas Exocett SS )
Reel: Large arbor with smooth drag, matching the rod with capacity for 350 grain sinking lake line, plus 150 yards of gel spun backing. I use Abel and Ross reels they are bullet proof.
Line: Big fly taper line is a must. Weight forward floating cold water fly line. I use lines from Cortland. Sinking line: you’ll need 200 to 300 grain sinking line for lake fishing – full sink line will get the fly down to the lurking fish!
Tapered leader – If you feel like buying ready made pike leader, there are plenty of pre-made pike leaders available for purchase at fly shops and online.
If you feel like making your own 5 to 7 foot leaders, then you’ll need 3-4 ft of 40 lb test mono , 1-2 ft of to 30 lb mono to 1.5 ft section of 40 lb test wire bite tippet. “40- 30– 40”.
You can also run straight 30 to 40 lb mono to 6-12 inch 30 lb coated wire.
Rarely are pike leader shy. There are numerous variations on leaders – these work well for Ontario pike. With so many opinions, and ways of creating leaders, these are just suggestions and ones that I have used successfully.
Flies: Flies are the key to success!
Nearly everything is edible to a pike! Flies that imitate food to a pike on Lake St. Joseph are : Walleye, whitefish, suckers, and small pike.
Also leech patterns, streamers, lefty deceiver, flash tail whistler, dahlberg diver, gurglers, mice, frog “poppers” are a must to add to the pike fly box.
Fly sizes: 4- 12 inch in length, I typically use 6 to 8 inch flies tied on 2/0 – 3/0 Mustad hooks. Streamer colors in any combination of black, yellow, red, white, and chartreuse.
Top water poppers in frog pattern will work well, casting to shore and weeds in the spring. Subsurface flies will be excellent for under water structure and boulder locations. De-barb the flies, they penetrate the pikes mouth easier and removal is a breeze.
Rod: Okuma 7 ft medium fast action
Reel: matching bait-caster reel
Line: 50 lb test braid, with 70 lb fluorocarbon leader with
mustad stay lok snap.
Lures: Savage gear soft Swimbait of 6 inch to 10 inchs of length worked really well.
My Lucky fly : The walleye fly – tied by yours truly
My Lucky lure: The blue burbot from Savage gear
Cast to structure. Pike are an ambush predator and tend to situate them selves near big boulders, sunken logs, and other structure. Jon Grace had me casting to what looked like open lake water, but beneath was a large boulder field and was only about 6 feet in depth. I cast over the structure and stripped in the fly using an intermediate 350 grain sinking line. Allowing the fly the sink about 2 feet and then I retrieved. Same situation for Lures, I cast over the structure with a soft swimbait and did a moderate speed retrieval. This was extremely successful.
Other essential gear to take:
Nets: I prefer a cradle net with rubber netting. A big rubber landing net will do – Do not use cotton mesh nets.
Pliers, nippers, jaw spreaders, long nose pliers/ with wire cutter. vet wrap tape for fingers (excellent material to prevent line burn), dry bag, life jacket, camera (with water tight case) , headlamp,
Clothing: (Pack for any kind of weather!) hoodies, warm socks, Baseball hats, beanie / toque, warm gloves, long underwear, light jacket (I use puff jacket from Patagonia), Flannel shirts, jeans, and regular tee’s. UPF long sleeves sun shirts, hot weather shirts , swim suite, and shorts.
Sun gloves – get the ones from Simms, they have striping pads built in for fly line
Cargo shorts – extra pockets come in handy. Foot wear: trekking sandals, runners, boots. Bring multiple pairs of foot wear, one pair of waterproof shoes.
Rain gear: Pack your gortex waders and fly fishing rain jacket. There will be days heading back to the lodge in a downpour – you’ll be thanking your self for bringing along the right rain gear.
Sunblock Stick – SPF 45 – 50. Using a sun block – you do not want sunblock on your flies!
Sun “buff” or bandana – protect your face from long days on the water from the sun and wind.
Bug repellent: We have Black flies, mosquitos, to no-see-ums.
I use a natural citronella balm, apply before leaving for the the lake and it works well. Keep bug sprays away from fly line, fly’s and sunglasses.
Eye wear: Polarized sunglasses are 100% essential! They’ll help you see “thru” the water, and of course offer up protection from catapulted flies.
Band-aids, for the possible cuts – watch those sharp essox teeth!
The Grace Family will be happy to answer your booking/ fishing questions via their website site: www.oldpost.com