Its vast territory makes it the fifth largest country subdivision in the world and second largest in North America next to Greenland. It just so happens that much of its area is fishable water but, unlike the UK, in Canada’s high Arctic, fly fishing is in its infancy, it’s a hard place to find anyone who consorts with the sport.

Arctic Haven Lodge however, has been developed with an embrace for the sport we love and has the Kazan River virtually at its door step. Paddlers have long known the Kazan River as one of the Arctic’s special rivers, and one that winds its way 1000km to Baker Lake.

This posh eco lodge’s intention is to introduce fly fishers to northern pike, Arctic grayling and lake trout fishing that can only be described as exceptional. One of the advantages of the remote location is the incomprehensible exclusive access to water that has never been fished. Grayling are taken daily up to 2kg and the ultra-pristine conditions ensure a more than courageous battle on 4wt. tackle.  Lake trout, up to 15kg, can be taken by trolling or casting silver and black slender streamers with a 10wt rod and sinking tip line along deep shelves or rocky reef edges. Pike are taken off the shallows in early season with floating lines and big flies and, later, on sink tips with big, brash brightly coloured lures.

The grayling are best lured with a hare’s ear gold beaded nymph but realistically, any fly, presented without grace, will suffice. Dry flies drifted in the currents were our favourite and were smashed with vigour in each and every drift. So abundant are the fish, we had lake trout accosting grayling, in attempts to release them from the fly, and into waiting jaws. On one occasion we managed to hook both trout and grayling with a well-placed streamer. It was simply plopped behind the hooked and combative grayling trying to escape both fly and predator.

The lodge is promoted as an eco-tourism destination and guests who chose not to spend their days fishing will be amazed at the myriad of alternate activities and potential wildlife encounters, for example the area is home to the 350,000 strong Qamanirjuaq caribou herd, which migrate directly beside the lodge. They offer access to hiking, kayaking, boating and northern lights viewing. Wildlife includes arctic wolves, caribou, grizzly bears, black bears, wolverine sightings and more. During our stay it was commonplace to see a lone white wolf on our way to and from the fishing boats. 

The meals were first rate and the equipment was top of the line in terms of use for fly-fishing excursions. Above all of this though was the Arctic grayling fishery. Fly-fishing in a truly pristine environment, in a stretch of river where the best beat is only around the corner and where no one had ever fished before was truly unbelievable. The take of the fly, by a truly wild fish, one that thrives in the cleanest, taintless waters coupled by the surroundings of a vast and sedate land is a trip I will not soon forget…

The author, David Radcliffe, lives in Canada’s Arctic with his wife and two dogs. Retired from teaching he spends his days either thinking of fishing or fishing in exotic locations around the globe. When not either fishing or thinking about fishing, he books clients on exotic DIY fishing trips in a myriad of locations around the world and for many different species. 

He may be contacted at or on his Facebook page at DIY Sport Fishing Adventures.

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