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scuro2

Burbon+ice and Inconnu on Great Slave lake

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I landed in Yellowknife May 25, it was about 4 degrees Celsius and I had hours to wait for the float so I shared the picture of the flight over Great Slave lake with the guys who fished it with me last fall. Jokes were made about ice fishing and how Burbon needs ice to bring out those fine sour notes.

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The south end of this massive lake looked better with only a few ice flows. I was chilled to the bone the first "night" with those cool winds coming off the ice. We went out after supper and really I could only hack 3 hours of it. The next day I ended up wearing my long underwear, pants, pajamas, and rain gear to stay warm and that is what I did basically for most of the rest of the week even though temps were in the low teens. It was the wind that chilled. What I really needed was a proper outer layer. Had it rained also with that ever constant cold north easterly wind I would have been toast. Luckily we had only a few hours of rain that week and most of it was during one night.

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The target species was pike but the wind had kicked up sediment making most shallow water opaque. My guide didn't believe that NWT pike stay shallow beyond the spawn. So we fished patterns like wind swept walls and had some luck. My first Inconnu.

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Occasionally there would be a kill during hook up and when that happened the guide kept the fish. It is a lot rarer with Coneys because there mouth is a lot smaller. Here is Garet prepping the fish for smoking. Basically a Coney fights somewhat like a Tarpon in that it instantly reacts to the take and never gives. They are tough fighters that can really wiggle and are hard to hold for a pic. Boy can they get thick and hit the lure like a freight train.

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Since we were not fishing shallow we fished the river but how many times can you fish that river until you get bored? My guide took me out to the ice flows. I thought he was nuts...out there the ice forms into shard patterns...very cool.

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Up the river the trees were greening and temps could be 20 degrees warmer. You could pick up trophy pike....just not the PB size I was looking for.

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To tell you the truth the two other guys there trolled the lake and the end of the river channel for almost 7 full days. They had a FEW bigger fish but not as many. They were trolling Bull Dawgs and other relatively massive lures for early spring. I was happy to get off the main lake at least for part of each day.

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The water being so cold, you would think deep would not be where pike were hanging out but this one was caught with a tiny hot'n'tot with a good sized lip.

41689607135_87e5268d81_o.jpgUnlike the fall most pike were relatively undersized. I've never been enamored with Walleye so I was very happy to fish for Coney.

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...and sometimes you would get a good one!

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My guide persisted with fishing the ice. I looked at him, the ice edge? Here I snagged lures on chunks of ice! I don't think he did it much because he wasn't sure of success either...which ice flow was better...was a km off shore too far...2 km?...which edge of the ice do you fish?

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I had caught one tiny pike the previous night so I said you show me how it is done. He got a Coney and then so did I. This one spot was active and we were having success with all species there. This is a pattern I would have never believed in a million years...pike, walleye, and inconnu all busting bait at ice edge about a km off of an island. Better yet they were so aggressive I used a surface swim bait and it worked well...so I had to take a pic in case anyone didn't believe me. Anything silver or white worked well.

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Underwater shot

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What ended up happening was the focus went to catching Coneys

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Finally on the last day the weather changed. We had a mild and warm south wind so we made a trek to another bay about an hour away because the wind was low and the ice finally gone along the shoreline.

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The bay known for pike was mostly empty...I wanted to check the upper shallow lake but NWT pike don't stay there. I used a big white and orange Len Thompson spoon and found the only trophy pike that morning. It's a great tool for exploring.

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Back at the bay channels were opening up because the muddy water from the bay wasn't being carried as far. And then we lucked into some fabulous fishing. Inconnu were surfacing chasing the tiniest of bait. It took us some time to figure out what else they wanted but once we had the lure the fishing was fabulous...all species were aggressive and you would have a fish every 3rd cast. We did this till supper. Before we left the owners son told us he got a 46 pike in the back bay. Do we switch...where there more?

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The problem is when you only have had brief windows of success all week you go with what works so we went back to the Coney hole..and it was slower but then I caught this beaut.

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Finally we moved off our hole and I asked the guide to check the bay out for only a few minutes. Being a good guide he stayed on the spot because there were fish and soon we realized there were probably 2 dozen trophies there. The water was as brown as I have ever seen trophy pike sit in...my guide's mind was blown. I said the trophies are in warm shallow water and he said, yeah today they are! There were probably some PB sized pike in there, I even hooked into a good one but lost him.

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I did get what is probably a PB walleye...somewhere around 25 inches for me...and the clouds rolled in and that was it. I did come back in the morning hoping hoping hoping...but a 46 pike or bigger will have be a goal for a future trip.

Edited by scuro2

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Ice out fishing in the land of the midnight sun is not for the faint of heart  is it Chris?  :D

You got into some great coney fishing. Maybe a little sun and warm and you would have killed the poikes too.

Fishing the ice edge is awesome!! As the ice melts food filters into the water for the bait to feed on and this brings in the predators.

The tactic works great for lakers too. ;)

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They really do look like tarpon.  I wonder if they are genetically related in any way.

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Great post. Inconu are the largest member of the Whitefish clan. I had always heard they are rare and hard to catch. WRONG, lol. 

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6 minutes ago, Snidley said:

Great post. Inconu are the largest member of the Whitefish clan. I had always heard they are rare and hard to catch. WRONG, lol. 

Rare, yes.

Hard to catch, no.

Only reason they are rare is because they are only found in 5 drainage's in the world.

Fish one of those drainage's at the right time and you can catch a bunch.  ;)

Want to catch a ton of giant coney's?

Fish Kotzebue Alaska through the ice in May.  :D 

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3 hours ago, DRIFTER_016 said:

Fish Kotzebue Alaska through the ice in May.  :D 

Can you wait until the ice melts? :) Seriously,...knew next to nothing about this fish going there. It was my goal for sure going so early. I'm not even sure if places have a reputation for Coneys and if so what are the prime destinations in NA?

Edited by scuro2

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7 minutes ago, scuro2 said:

Can you wait until the ice melts? :) Seriously,...knew next to nothing about this fish going there. It was my goal for sure going so early. I'm not even sure if places have a reputation for Coneys and if so what are the prime destinations in NA?

My buddy and his fam in Kotzebue AK.  :)

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How did they catch them? Spear fishing or are those bullet holes? :) Seriously there is a lot of blood in that pic for a species that usually can be hooked and unhooked easily, especially compared to pike.

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11 hours ago, DRIFTER_016 said:

Jigging spoons through the ice. They use a gaff for landing

That now makes sense with the wounds and blood.

So does Plummers see Inconnu on Bear and Great Slave? Do other fishing lodges promote Coney fishing. I saw a few resorts in the Yukon talk about this fish. I guess you need a river nearby and if you have guests coming that far north it is usually for some other monster species like LT, the Inconnu may be ignored. As a species the natives will harvest it because it smokes well. Is this an inland species or does it travel to the ocean each season?

For me it saved the day because both the walleye and pike bite were slow at the beginning of the week. There is so little information about this fish.

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Great report. It's on my list of places to go too. What did the guide do with that fish you were going to smoke? I see the way he cut it up and i've been trying to smoke salmon like that but not sure if it will work in a smoker or just an open fire?

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7 hours ago, scuro2 said:

That now makes sense with the wounds and blood.

So does Plummers see Inconnu on Bear and Great Slave? Do other fishing lodges promote Coney fishing. I saw a few resorts in the Yukon talk about this fish. I guess you need a river nearby and if you have guests coming that far north it is usually for some other monster species like LT, the Inconnu may be ignored. As a species the natives will harvest it because it smokes well. Is this an inland species or does it travel to the ocean each season?

For me it saved the day because both the walleye and pike bite were slow at the beginning of the week. There is so little information about this fish.

None on Bear. We used to have a flyout for them on the Anderson river 125 mile North of the lodge.

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I don't believe they target them at Plummers Slave. Not sure they are abundant out that way.

Inconnu is French and means the unknown. I have no idea where they go.  ^_^

I know our flyout spot has no fish until the beginning of August. Pretty sure they hang out in the lake until then.

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this is so cool, I had no idea this subspecies of white fish even exists...they look like a hybrid of a tarpon and snook. So friggin cool.


Any comparable to what kind of fish they taste most like. Im guessing they are pretty much exactly like whities? better worse?

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2 hours ago, AKRISONER said:

this is so cool, I had no idea this subspecies of white fish even exists...they look like a hybrid of a tarpon and snook. So friggin cool.


Any comparable to what kind of fish they taste most like. Im guessing they are pretty much exactly like whities? better worse?

Yes, very similar to white fish.

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16 hours ago, DRIFTER_016 said:

None on Bear. We used to have a flyout for them on the Anderson river 125 mile North of the lodge.

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I don't believe they target them at Plummers Slave. Not sure they are abundant out that way.

Inconnu is French and means the unknown. I have no idea where they go.  ^_^

I know our flyout spot has no fish until the beginning of August. Pretty sure they hang out in the lake until then.

Holy crap...you would float plane it to the Arctic Ocean for Inconnu? A little research suggests that some Connies live in the ocean part time and then come up river to spawn in August. While other Connies in larger lakes no longer migrate to the ocean but rather go up small tribs to spawn.

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9 minutes ago, scuro2 said:

Holy crap...you would float plane it to the Arctic Ocean for Inconnu? A little research suggests that some Connies live in the ocean part time and then come up river to spawn in August. While other Connies in larger lakes no longer migrate to the ocean but rather go up small tribs to spawn.

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Not that far. The river starts pretty close to Bear.

Our char flyout was a long one though. 

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So for the fishing to be predictable, and only in August they were probably on the move to spawn, or that was close to their final destination.

Edited by scuro2

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13 hours ago, scuro2 said:

So for the fishing to be predictable, and only in August they were probably on the move to spawn, or that was close to their final destination.

You got me. They may have been dropping back out of the lake. 

As far as I know they spawn in the spring. That's when they run up river in the area you were.

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