Written by Bob Erickson
My passion is fly fishing for cold water species, particularly char. I had the opportunity to fish for landlocked arctic char in Labrador in 2006 and it was one of more memorable days of my life. It was not only the beauty and fighting capabilities of the char that captivated me, but the far Northern locale where char live that hooked me as well. I have a camp in Northwestern Maine that I fish from; the fishing for brook trout and landlocked salmon is as good as it gets in the lower 48. But you have to go far north to fish for arctic char. The time was right to go again. When I typed “arctic char fly fishing” into goggle, not a whole lot came up. But one site did jump out, Rapid Lake Lodge. Soon I was in touch with the owner, Alain Lagace, and it didn’t take long to be convinced that Barnion Camp, East Ungava Bay, was the place I wanted to be. And the fishing would be for sea run char.
I told Alain my ambitions were simple and few. Land a few char, see a polar bear and eat char sushi. He assured me of all three. In fact, all three wishes were met on the first day! My new found friend and fishing partner from Wales, UK, Colin Russ, and I fished the lower pools of the Baudoncourt River. It took a little while to figure out the fishing. I decided to fish nymphs just like I do in Maine and that technique proved to be very, very effective. The numbers of char are staggering. As the tide rose, waves of char poured into the fresh water. I have never felt anything close to the strength of these char fresh from feeding voraciously in Ungava Bay. I was blown away by the Labrador landlocked char, but these sea run fish were in a whole different category, in fight, size and beauty. Mid-morning, a polar bear came into fish. Everything about this animal was magnificent, but I will never forget the size of the front paws. Like a baseball catcher’s mitt. Alain said it was one of the better sightings that he has had in his many, many years of experience. And that night, a bowl of raw char before dinner, caught only a few hours previously. Unbelievable. Literally, a dream comes true.
The days that followed allowed me to absorb the beauty of the landscape as seen from the air and to understand how little human impact there is and has been. A true wilderness. I have been back home for a little bit better than a month. There aren’t too many hours in the day that go by that don’t find me reminiscing of char, bears, flying, rivers, new friends and the unforgettable country. A day’s travel from home is a very little known, and extraordinary, world.