07/16/2005, Wharton Lake: 63°, 53” North, 99°, 53” West
So . . . there we were . . . Outlet Bay, Dubawnt Lake: Meg and Karen in one boat, Beth, Nina and I in the other. Within seconds of dropping her line in the water, Nina was fighting a sizeable lake trout. Beth and I shrieked with excitement as the beautiful fish was lifted out of the water, held up for a picture and placed back in its shallow green home. We really weren't expecting to catch anything, but little did we know what a trout catching frenzy we had just begun. How were we to have predicted the rivalry of towns and exaggerations that was about to divide our unbreakable group of five in an exhilarating and hilarious fishing spree.
That afternoon, on July 12th, we had crashed our way across one last chunk of Dubawnt Lake ice and made our way to Tukto Lodge's Outpost Fishing Camp in Outlet Bay. Upon arriving and beaching our boats near the dock, we were greeted with an arrangement of five or six small white buildings scattered among tundra rocks and by the first people we had seen since our first re-supply. Stan and Corey led us inside the cozy dining area where we then met Mike and Aggie, the cook. Over juice, fruit and rice krispie treats, we chatted about our adventures thus far and were invited to stay the night in one of their platform tents, and to join them for dinner. We accepted the offer, of course, bubbling with gratitude and happy to be making new friends. All four of the Tukto Lodge staff had been in the plane that had flown over us on the ice a couple days before on their way to open up the lodge. They laughed describing how, out of nowhere, a young woman's voice had come on the radio and they had spotted five figures, jumping up and down, in the middle of the lake. Stan showed us where all our boxes of food had been stored and we began the task of sorting and packing our clean, beautiful, new bags of food. It was somewhat of a sensory overload, opening boxes we had been looking forward to for the past week, while being in a new environment outside of our nomadic family.
Anyway, to get on with the fish story that will explain the crazy pictures we sent home . . . . After an awesome dinner of fresh bread and pork chops and green beans -- yes, even the three vegetarians ate pork chops -- Stan, Corey and Mike took us on a motorboat ride to scout the ice on the east shore of the bay and to see if we could make it to the river. We made it about halfway there before the ice stopped us, but as soon as Nina dropped that first line in, the ice disappeared from our minds and we became intensely focused on the task at hand: catching monster trout. We must have set some kind of record, perhaps "most fish caught by five women on Dubawnt Lake in shortest amount of time." In total, Stan, Mike and Corey helped us net 11 HUGE trout, ranging from 17 to a whopping 33 pounds. Challenges were flying between the boats and the Tukto Lodge staff heard more excited shouts and shrieks at each fish caught than they probably will hear all summer. We fished until the sun went down, which up here in the North is around midnight, and went to bed fully exhilarated with the evening's events: huge fish and the wind in our faces, flying along the edge of the ice in motorboats.
The next morning, we met Bob, the amazing owner of Tukto Lodge and John, the pilot, who took us on a tour of his Twin Otter. Then we packed up our stuff. The plane had come in to take some of the staff to the main lodge on Mosquito Lake, and as the plane buzzed over our heads, carrying our new friends and fishing guides away, we said a few more goodbyes and thank yous and set out on our own once again, back to the reality of trail. Life has continued to be spectacular. Being reunited with the Dubawnt River is wonderful. Open water and current are our long lost friends, but immediately we were confronted by a portage around Dubawnt Canyon. A run of chaotic, churning white water, so breathtaking, we gladly carried our 300 pounds of food and fuel from one end to the other. We stopped for a day on an esker above the gorge to rest, play Frisbee, explore the canyon and hide from the wind that blew food off our spoons as we tried to eat.
If possible, the scenery has only gotten better since leaving the canyon. We camped last night on Canoe Point, the joining place of two eskers, with an enormous fan hill dominating the landscape. From the top of the hill you can see for miles, and we stood silently taking in the world around us and looking north along the course of the Dubawnt River. Continuing down the river today, we passed the Uksuriajuag Rapids, a series of crazy waterfalls and ledges and paddled on into Wharton Lake, where we were greeted by four caribou sitting on the last remaining ice along the shore.
So here we are, halfway through our journey, sending out a huge thank you to the folks at Tukto Lodge [editor's note: see http://www.arcticfishing.com]. You were wonderfully generous and helpful and it was our pleasure to meet you all. To folks at home, if you ever want to catch huge fish, you know where to go. We have had some adventures over the past seven hundred miles and we anticipate many more.
View Photos (received from the first resupply)
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