Saskatchewan Fly-In: Cree River Lodge
April 06, 2023
Pat Babcock’s background in cattle farming, oil subject trucking and sod farming ready him for the rugged Northern Saskatchewan panorama through which his Cree River Lodge resides. That have has additionally instilled a deep appreciation for sharing the area’s interesting mix of tranquility and sport-fishing amazement.
Impressed by his youthful years spent at his grandparents’ Deception Lake Lodge, Babcock bought Cree River Lodge in 2008. Since then, he has centered on creating shut connections with the visitor he considers fishing buddies.
“It is all a part of being a small lodge,” Babcock stated. “I do not simply get to shake your hand as soon as a day; I, and the employees, have the luxurious of with the ability to spend actual time with all of our company.
“We get to study what issues to you, and be a part of that. That is what’s actually unforgettable.”
Situated on Wapata Lake, this rustic lodge presents a cushty format that enables restful privateness, in addition to frequent areas for the pure camaraderie emanating from sport-fishing reflections. Making the most of the pandemic pause, Babcock undertook an bold renovation challenge that considerably improved the lodge’s lodging.
“We constructed a brand new dock, new kitchen, new visitor cabin, and added new bogs in all visitor cabins,” he stated. “We constructed a lovely gazebo behind the lodge, which we laughingly name ‘the web cafe’ (as a result of that’s the place our mobile phone booster is put in).
“For this upcoming season, we’ve got Starlink web service, which must be an infinite enchancment. We have additionally constructed about 100 meters of latest decking and boardwalks round camp, so no person is monitoring sand round like we used to.”
With a mixture that features walleye, arctic grayling, perch and whitefish, Cree River focuses on trophy Northern pike fishing. Throughout a previous go to, I noticed firsthand how indiscriminate these aggressive fish may be. Spoons, spinnerbaits, topwater plugs, crankbaits, swimbaits and even walleye jigs tempted pike—and Babcock instructed me the working a frog by way of shallow reeds is an neglected course to a vicious pike assault.
And discuss accessible. Every afternoon, following the day’s excursions, somebody would make a number of casts off the dock; often with a spoon. As soon as, I watched a man catch two respectable pike proper in entrance of the lodge.
“Heat shallow bays accumulate massive fish early within the season, however fairly rapidly we develop cabbage beds in barely deeper water,” he stated. “These, particularly those close to to present, constantly maintain massive fish all through the season.”
A number of the locations you’ll go to are so distant and unpressured that the fish reveal astoundingly unfettered aggression. Living proof: Whereas pausing to understand a fellow angler’s catch, I used to be dangling my spinnerbait off the port bow, when my rod abruptly wrenched to the aspect.
Regaining my grip, I noticed an enormous pike had actually grabbed my bait perhaps 3 toes from the boat. The fish ripped off a very good stretch of line, however after a spirited battle, I put the brakes on this brazen beast and held it for one in every of my favourite journey images.
Babcock factors out a reasonably new alternative: “We’ve additionally began doing a specific amount of bear looking, each on the important lodge and on the newly opened Pilot’s Lodge outpost on the Fond du Lac River (accessible to fishermen, after bear season).”
If you happen to’re prepared to spend a little bit extra working time and rattle by way of turbulent rapids, the River Journey takes anglers to the land of the giants. Working up the Cree and the Pipestone rivers, this limited-access journey generally produces fish within the excessive 40-inch vary.
“We run 4 units of rapids to achieve what we name ‘The Dunes,’ which is an outcropping of the Athabasca Sand Dunes,” he stated. “We catch numerous massive fish there.
“We additionally run additional up the Cree River and thru one other set of rapids to what we name ‘The Crater’—a small lake that lies on the backside of extensive rapids. This additionally produces an distinctive variety of massive fish.”
Cree River Lodge lodging comprise 5 two-bedroom cabins, every with 4 beds. Cabin 5 is barely bigger than the others and features a bathtub, whereas the others have showers.
“We’re geared as much as take 14 company at a time, which we are going to solely do if all 14 are a part of a single group,” he stated. “We desire to take not more than 12 at a time, as a result of that enables us to present the perfect service and maintain from crowding the fishery.”
Earlier than and after every fishing journey, company get pleasure from scrumptious meals ready by achieved cooks. And for the freshest fish you’ll ever get pleasure from, Cree River Lodge presents a soothing shore lunch with a handful of “eater” measurement pike, walleye and whitefish (accessible on all however the River Journey).
“Day by day at midday, everybody often will get collectively on ‘shore lunch island’ situated slightly below the narrows that divide Wapata Lake,” he stated. “It is not more than a ten-minute drive from anyplace the lake.
“It is arrange in your consolation with tables and chairs and a small cooking space, the place the magic occurs. Anticipate our pleasant neighborhood mink to place in an look.”
Describing what makes the Cree River Lodge expertise particular, Babcock stated: “I feel that differs for various folks. Some would say the northern lights, some would possibly discuss wildlife (you might be very more likely to spot bears, moose, mink, otters, bald and golden eagles, and perhaps wolves. Some would possibly say simply the sheer spectacle of unspoiled pure magnificence they see on daily basis.
“However greater than something, particularly for our common company, I’ll wager it could be a way of camaraderie; virtually a way of household. These are a lot extra than simply our clients; we really intend to turn into half of each other’s lives. I will wager (after the fishing) most of them keep in mind the folks they met and the friendships they kind that final without end.”
Cree River Lodge makes use of an Edmonton-based constitution service that often has company on the dock by 8:30 am, so on daily basis is a full day of fishing.
To guide the dream fishing journey of your lifetime, go to CreeRiverLodge.ca.