Northern Territories Arctic Char - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
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Northern Territories Arctic Char

Hi Guys,

I'm hoping to get up to the Northern Territories later in the year after some big char on the fly and was wondering if anyone has experience of fishing up there on some of the best rivers? and if so could you suggest any successful fly patterns? any info would be greatly appreciated!

SG
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 09:18 AM
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Whereabouts in NWT?

Best known river is the Tree River, however it's in Nunavut. In fact most of the true Arctic Char rivers are in Nunavet. Virtually all ocean flowing rivers will have char in them.

I've fished the Coppermine River while on a 20 day canoe trip. Very good char river if you time it right. Plummers used to have a camp on it. Plummers has a permanent camp on the Tree. Tree is known for the size of the char. 20+lbs possible. Coppermine more quantity but still the average size is 10-12lbs with some approaching 20lbs.

There's Victoria Island's Ekaluk river and other coastel spots.

Ungava has char fishing as well but the fish are small in comparison to the central arctic.

You time some of these artic rivers right and you can have silly number (i.e. 100+) fish days.

Char are aggressive. Any fly will work but I would focus on bright and bold profile. Shrimpy patterns are the obvious as that's why they go out to feed in the ocean in the first place from their native lakes and rivers. If you really hone in on a spot and spend time there you can get them to rise to the dry fly.

I always tell my steelhead buddies that the arctic char is way underrated. They hit harder than a steelhead and often fight harder. Also the best eating of any fish I've had among the char/trout/salmon category.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Hi WRX,

thanks for taking the time with that reply..... Many rivers still in mind including Ekaluk and Tree, and hopefully I'll get something sorted in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks again

SG
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 11:15 AM
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I had great success swinging olive/black and olive/white rabbit strip leeches on the Kongakut (far NE Alaska) in June 2013.

Caught this fellow while breakfast was being cooked.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 12:31 PM
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Many of the salmon rivers in Labrador north of Groswater Bay are also great char rivers...
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jason and Athabascae for your reply's.....plenty of food for thought

SG
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 11:26 PM
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One of my bait fishing buddies fished the Tree last year. The fish he landed were ridiculous! I was insanely jealous looking at his pictures. Giant char in nuclear colors
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 12:01 PM
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Jason, that is a Dolly Varden. All N Slope Alaska/Yukon chars are Dolly Varden.

The Tree is famous for a reason. If you have the money, go there. Hands down the best in the world.

Ekaluk, while having probably the best and brightest fish, is heavily utilized by a commercial net fishery and the fishing can be very spotty in some years. There are also plenty of cheaper, easier to access rivers in and around cambridge bay which will produce, but not as famously as the big name systems. Most of the systems around cam bay have commercial fisheries on them of one kind or another, which obviously can impact angling.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PGK View Post
Jason, that is a Dolly Varden. All N Slope Alaska/Yukon chars are Dolly Varden.

The Tree is famous for a reason. If you have the money, go there. Hands down the best in the world.

Ekaluk, while having probably the best and brightest fish, is heavily utilized by a commercial net fishery and the fishing can be very spotty in some years. There are also plenty of cheaper, easier to access rivers in and around cambridge bay which will produce, but not as famously as the big name systems. Most of the systems around cam bay have commercial fisheries on them of one kind or another, which obviously can impact angling.
PGK, thanks for that......very interesting

SG
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 02:56 PM
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I haven't fished the Tree, but have thought about it. Only thing I found in my research that wasn't awesome to me was that because it is a high gradient river, there isn't a ton of nice swinging water on it. A lot of the fishing seems to be very short casts into tiny pools in or on the edge of torrent waters where the char collect to rest. Ideal for those with spinning gear, not as great for spey rods. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong!
The Tree definitely has the reputation for the biggest char though (they need to be big and strong to get up that river).

Rivers like the Ekaluk and others in Cambridge Bay area are lower gradient and consist almost entirely of good swinging water.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 10:55 PM
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At PGK,

Seems you're correct. I was led to believe it was a char based on the highly forked tail. Any which way, they were fun to catch!

Jason
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 01:40 AM
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Visually there is almost no difference between the two. You have to see a lot of both to be able to tell the difference. Off the record, there are both Dolly Varden and Arctic Char in the Tree and Coppermine, that information isn't published in the scientific literature but is well known in the char community. Both fantastic fish, ecologically they fit similar profiles and are basically arctic steelhead, except tougher! If you ever get the chance to fish them off the beach, do it. On a different angle, there is no 'proper' fishery in Ulukhaktok (Holman) but they are currently pumping out fish to equal the Tree. I have seen some caught off the beach right in town that were absolutely over 20#. The flight costs an arm and a leg though. Not much of a guide service the way we know it but you can hire locals to tour you around. Pretty DIY though. I'm dying to get up there.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-25-2015, 11:56 AM
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Not trying to stir things up but isn't saying a dolly isn't a chart the same as saying a steelhead isn't a salmonoid? I grew up in AK catching dollies but it has always been my understanding that they are in the char family?

Either way GREAT fish Jason! I hope this winter has been good to you!
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-25-2015, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jabrowning24 View Post
Not trying to stir things up but isn't saying a dolly isn't a chart the same as saying a steelhead isn't a salmonoid?
I think he was saying a dolly is not an arctic char. You are right they are both char.

They are all salmonids as well. Steelhead and char……….
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2015, 01:37 PM
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Yes, they are both char, sorry for the confusion.

Salvelinus malma malma (Dolly Varden char)
vs
Salvelinus alpinus (Arctic char)
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