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The lure's allure

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 18/01) - Fishing is big business in the North.

With 13,518 sport fishing licences sold in the NWT last year alone, there is a myriad of opinions about how best to catch fish.

One question that keeps coming up is what is the best all-around angling lure to use while searching out that big lunker?

Or, barring that, a workable solution for getting something into the frying pan for a quick shore lunch.

An obvious place to begin would be at Wolverine Sports Shop. Owner Dale Johnston has been at his Yellowknife location 14 years and has formed a weighty opinion about almost every lure that has passed through his store.

"The five o' diamonds has always been a very popular lure," said Johnston right off the bat. "Everybody's got them for lake trout.

"Generally, most spoons are quite effective this time of year. They're hungry after a long winter and they begin to gorge themselves."

Of course, one cannot forget Johnston's own line of Wolverine phantom lures, with several designs for most species of fish in the Yellowknife area, and arctic char.

"We have a new design for char, but it's great for trout too," said Johnston.

"It's lighter than the regular spoon so you can use it in the rivers."

Spoon is best

Boyd Warner, who operates a hunting camp in the Barrens but finds the time to take a few casts every once and a while, supports Johnston's views of the trusty old spoon.

"Personally, the Len Thompson has been my personal favourite," said Warner.

"You can get them in a variety of sizes, small enough for grayling up to big trolling spoons for trout."

As for northern pike, Warner sees little point in worrying over lure presentation.

"The red and white are noted for getting pike, but they'll grab anything," said Warner.

"It makes you wonder why you'd need a 10,000-pound tackle box."

Long-time Northerner Shorty Brown has been fishing with spoons for more than 50 years. He says for much of that time he has had little reason to visit the tackle store.

"I used to use the Williams wobbler all the time," Brown recalled.

"He (Williams) came up 40 years ago to fish the East Arm and he gave me a great, big box of these bastards. I used them for years."

Yellowknife angler Jeff Coates said he tends to eschew the traditional spoon method. In fact, he swears by just about anything made by Mepps -- particularly their wide line of flashy spinners.

"I like fishing for whitefish with the Mepps Black Fury with a little feather fly dealie at the end," said Coates.

"When we're going for the slough sharks (pike) we'll increase our chances of catching a lunker by using the ol' Mepps Cyclops."

Coates said that since he started using Mepps lures more exclusively, his catch total has climbed considerably.

"I'm batting about .500 right now," he said. "I think that's pretty good."

Fishing at its finest

Some purists reject spin-casting methods such as spoons, spinners, jigs and even bait.

"Basically, all I do is fly fish right now," said David Radcliffe, who works from time to time as a fishing guide.

"A caddis fly number eight, that's what works best for whitefish and grayling. If I had to pick another one, I'd say the polar bear streamer. That's what I caught my 24 and a half pound arctic char with."

Regardless if one prefers the art of fly fishing over spin casting, some anglers are just happy to simply get out on the water and relax for a few hours, even if they get skunked.

"I do some fishing on Prelude Lake, but I never catch anything," said Sam Bullock, who owns the well-known local fish eatery Bullock's Bistro with his wife Renata.

"No lure seems to work ... we always hear of people catching the big ones, but all we ever catch is weeds."