One really takes pavement for granted until a trip on the South Canol puts it in perspective.
Thankfully, after two hours, the bone-rattling, trailer-tire popping and axle-stressing driving ends up at blissful Quiet Lake.
We planned to meet another family for a long weekend of camping and fishing at this more remote spot. Our efforts paid off with three days of glassy, calm water, 25- to 30-degree temperatures and a campsite all to ourselves.
Camping with five kids under the age of nine requires lots of flexibility and going with what Mother Nature gives you. In this case, the unseasonably warm weather resulted in a beach experience complete with sunbathing, swimming, boogie boarding and boating.
The question was how to best fit in fishing with the kids. Normally I would start early in the morning or late at night to take advantage of the cooling water temperatures. With all of this activity during the day, we were all knackered and needed some down time back at camp.
Besides, big fish, like Lake Trout, would be deep trying to take advantage of the cooler water and probably feeling a bit sluggish with slowed down metabolisms.
With long, hot days and notoriously short attention spans, hours of trolling deep water would not fit the group psyche.
Fortunately, on one of our boating excursions, we cruised along a prolonged drop-off capped off by a crystal, clear creek running into the lake. Within plain view were large, active Grayling stacked like cord wood at the mouth.
Arctic Grayling are common around the Yukon. They live in both rivers and lakes and prefer clear, moving water. They are a small-mouthed, quick-striking fish that feature an enlarged dorsal fin with a dazzling array of colours.
This group was trying to survive and take advantage of the much colder, highly oxygenated glacier water coming into the lake.
Careful not to attack the beach like Marines, we systematically rigged up each child’s rod and let them catch dinner.
The Grayling were cooperative and each child, including the four-year-old in the group was able to catch fish independently. They would simply toss a barbless Mepps spinner or fly into the drift of the creek and watch it get picked off.
The easy part was catching fish; the hard part was ensuring that all fit the regulations and then managing ensuing expectations. These were big, dark, beautiful Grayling all close or within the allowable slot limit.
Quiet Lake is considered a “conservation water” as outlined on Page 10 of theYukon Fishing Regulations. Only barbless hooks are permitted and any Grayling within 16 to 19 inches must to be released. Four Grayling are permitted per person with only one fish in your possession longer than 19 inches.
With so many eager Grayling near the surface and within such proximity it was important to cut this adventure short.
Using simple math, if each man, woman and child in our group caught our limit we would have 36 fish. While still legal, it would be a real tragedy to take this many fish out of this system.
It was also important not to take advantage of the Grayling and “play” with them when all they were trying to do was escape the heat and survive.
We cut our adventure short, kept just enough for a well-deserved dinner and took home an invaluable learning experience.