The Yukon Territory is a phrase that conjures up images that captivate ones imagination. Towns with names like White Horse, and Dawson City ring with the romance of "golden" days gone by. In 1896, George Carmack's gold strike kindled the great "Yukon Gold Rush" and Jack London's tales of riches and adventure fanned the flames of dreams for over a century.
On August 17, 1896, two characters, named Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie, prospected for gold with Carmack, a California man who had moved to the Yukon and joined the Tagish band. The trio had panned many creeks previously, but this was to be a day like none that had come before, or would ever be again. This day would become known as "Discovery Day", and it started an onslaught of over 100,000 fortune hunters heading northward on trails to the Yukon Territory. As legend has it, Carmack was led to the gold in a dream, which revealed visions of king salmon with gleaming gold-nugget-eyes swimming in blue-green water.
The Carmack group discovered gold, which, at today's prices, would be worth over a billion dollars. While there may still be an undiscovered vein of pure gold waiting to be found, today's visiting "miners" are making the pilgrimage north with dreams of golden fins and rainbows of brilliance that shimmer on the end of a fly-line. The Yukon has been noted for untapped fortune, dazzling vistas, and abundant wildlife. Now, ardent anglers are discovering the Yukon's readily available wealth of glistening trout. Just as the legends of the Yukon are larger than life, so are the fish. Anglers can expect to catch over 100 trout a day in the 18-22 inch range, while interrupted at regular intervals for battles with brutes that stretch the tape to the 28-30 inch range.
So, the fish are big, but how big does big get?
Lake Trout run on average from 5 to 25 lbs., and the lodge record currently stands at 48 lbs. Lodge records for other species are as follows: Northern Pike -32 lbs., Arctic Grayling -4 lbs., Dolly Varden -15 lbs., Inconnu (Shee Fish) -33 lbs., Broad Whitefish -6 lbs., and Burbot-7 lbs. Sure it's cold outside, and right now the Yukon is covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice, but now's the time to plan your dream trip. Lodging availability in this region of limited access must be reserved far in advance. Bookings begin filling a year in advance, and the choice options are always the first to be snapped up.
According to Ed Beattie, senior fishing advisor at the Sidney, Nebraska, location for Cabela's Outdoor Adventures, "Once you try the trout in the Yukon, you're deep hooked for life." One of the key factors that makes fishing exceptional in this unsoiled region is the demands of the environment. All wildlife must stock up body fat for the long winter months where life hangs in the balance, and the scales are tipped with preparation. A lack of experience with lures and a constant need to forage makes all species of fish voracious predators that will basically attack anything moving that doesn't attack them.
For the novice, or beginning angler that is rusty on technique, this is a significant advantage. Success will come on the first day of a trip, even when casts are not so eloquent.
Huge Lake Trout, Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden and Pike ply these pristine waters looking for an easy meal. Once hooked, they provide an acrobatic display that would rival performances in Ringling Brothers' center ring. They strip off line like firemen at a four-alarm blaze and pump adrenaline into your veins with every acrobatic vault.
If you're going to go, you might as well go first class!
Up north, eating is as important to people as it is to wildlife. If you are going to take a "world class trip" eating Vienna sausages from a tin is probably not in your plan. This culinary epic is just one of the many myths and legends that flower the Yukon's colorful past, and inspired the famous scene in Charlie Chaplin's movie "The Gold Rush."
While lost in an ice fog with temperatures hovering at 40 below and confronted with a decided lack of provisions, Bishop Stringer hit on the idea of boiling the sealskin and walrus sole boots he and his companion were wearing. After a seven-hour boil, they dined. According to the Bishop, it was "tough and stringy, but palatable and fairly satisfying." The Bishop eventually found his way to a Native village, 50 pounds lighter, and perhaps made a pledge to wash his socks more often. If this fare is not to your liking you are in luck!
How about a trip to a premier lodge, located in a remote area of the Yukon Territory, where you will feast upon 5-Star meals and alpine vistas that frequently distract you from the business at hand? Sightings of giant moose, bear, bald eagles and creatures of every ilk add excitement with their unexpected visits.
Daily flights, in an immaculate DeHavilland Beaver, take anglers and guides to any of a dozen lakes and linking rivers that are near virgin, and in some cases untouched. Variety is the watchword at top quality lodges. At the best outfitters, jet boats are positioned at some of the fly-out locations, to facilitate quick transport from lake to lake. Helicopters cap off the mix, to gain entrée to even the most remote lakes that are inaccessible by plane or boat. If you want to take a break from the rigors of fighting big fish, take a kayak or canoe trip to photograph wildlife, or simply enjoy scenery on a grand scale at a paddler's pace.
If you've always dreamed of taking that trip of a lifetime, don't leave your fantasy to chance. While there are plenty of options up north, that will provide good value, remember the 10% rule. Someone always graduates in the bottom 10% of every class.
In that group there are individuals who call themselves guides, and no doubt you will be led to water. The question is, will the taste be sweet, or will you have a bitterness in your mouth that lingers forever, from a bad decision that was not properly researched?
Certainly you can do the research yourself, but if you are not accustomed to the various pitfalls that await the unsuspecting, it is a far better option to call upon an expert.
Cabela's Outdoor Adventures, is staffed by a team of individuals that have fished and hunted over 5 continents and garnered record-book entries in every category. They have spent their life researching destinations, checking references, evaluating lodging accommodations, and have determined every guide's qualifications. They even investigate the financial solvency of the lodges where clients will stay.
"There are horror stories out there; we hear them", said Beattie, "Unsuspecting sportsmen plunk down hard earned money and sometimes are left holding the proverbial bag. "The best way to avoid having your dream of a lifetime turn into a nightmare is to call a reputable agency such as Outdoor Adventures".
"Trips of this caliber are routinely arranged a year in advance, and a lot of things can happen in a year's time. Some of them will not be good," Beattie added.
The season for this trip is June through September. You would be responsible for your transportation to Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, where you will be met at the airport for a 45-minute flight to the lodge. It is recommended that you plan to arrive the day before your week of angling is to begin. The package would not cover your overnight stay in Whitehorse.
This particular seven day trip can be purchased, for $3,995 per person, from Whitehorse. The price includes: arrival/departure transfers from airport to hotel and back to airport, flights to and from the lodge, all meals and accommodations at the lodge, wine with dinner, full guide service including use of all boats, all regular fly-out trips, overnight stays in outpost cabins, use of backpacking and overnight gear, use of all lodge facilities including conference room. You may prefer to bring your own gear or take advantage of rods, reels, and lures that are provided at no cost.
Also included: All the fun and adventure you can stand!
For more information on this and other exciting angling opportunities, check out Outdoor Adventures on-line
, or talk with Ed Beattie in person at their toll-free number in Sidney, NE. 1-800-346-8747
Frank Ross grew up on a lake in Florida, where fishing and hunting were second nature. He has pursued his passion from the jungles of South America to the northern reaches of the Arctic Circle and most points in between. With a background in newspapers, the wire services and magazines that began in 1970, Frank brings a unique perspective to his work with Cabela's. He is an award-winning photographer with a flair for getting to the bottom line of every story.
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