Minipi Guides Report – August 2017

Over the past few weeks at Anne Marie Lake the evening fishing has been spectacular with rising trout in every cove. With fish up to 8 pounds sipping green drakes until the moon rises and dark settles on the hills around Loverboy, Petches Pond, West Bay and Man O’ War Key. While the wind has reached gusts of 50 to 70 km/h in recent weeks, it calmed off after supper allowing clients to enjoy the sight of rising fish! Evening fishing in stream areas such as The Pantry has also been productive, giving up a fish of 7 pounds caught and released on an orange bomber. Big Harry Outlet has also produced some great action on the orange bomber as well, giving up a 7 pounder and multiple 5+ pound brook trout; surprisingly the area also produced an 8 ½ pound fish thought to be a hybrid arctic char/brook trout. Labrador certainly is the land of opportunity for both angler and fish alike.

Wildlife around Anne Marie Lake has been prevalent with frequent moose sightings, various waterfowl, spruce and ruffed grouse, a black bear or two and even two woodland caribou seen at Little Loon Pond!

The beginning of August sees the end of the green drake hatch, and time for large flies to be tossed to willing trout throughout the Minipi watershed. Large brook trout and char of dark red and orange line the pools, streams and inlets eager to take whatever passes by! Large bombers, wooly buggers, muddlers and even deer hair poppers will trigger a powerful strike that will leave your line tight and a big smile on your face.

Trips to Little Minipi and Minipi have been highly successful with a few fish being caught weighing in at 8 ½ pounds on dry flies! Talk about bucket list experiences! A few arctic char were caught and released by the clients of Minipi Lake Lodge on nymphs such as copper johns and pheasant tails. It surely has been an eventful summer so far with another month of outstanding brook trout and arctic char fishing ahead!

The Undiscovered Minipi Watershed

DSC02053When you picture a perfect day of fly-fishing, what do you envision? Do you catch lots of fish? Few but primarily large fish? Do you imagine trekking trails to find a secret spot that no one has been to before, or do you picture a leisurely spot that has been tested and proven fruitful over many years?

Like many of our anglers, we’re guessing that exploring new and yet-untouched lakes and rivers might be what you’re looking for.

Previous guests Duncan Lewis and Howard Guptill have told us of spots that, to their knowledge and their guides knowledge, had never been fished before. Lakes shaped like hearts, some spots only 3-4 feet deep teeming with brook trout that anxiously snatch flies the second they hit the water. Not all huge fish, but lots and lots of fish.

The heart shaped lake that proved fruitful for one guest claims, “It can’t be too far from the Kenamu River, it was an adventure. We saw the remains of trappers’ camps, not recent, and remains of an old canoe.”

Even our guides, some of whom have been with us for over 30 years, have said that there’s much to the Minipi Watershed that still remains unexplored.

“You should note that Big Hairy Lake itself is some 12 miles, or 19 kilometers long,” says guide Ralph Coles.

The Minipi Watershed covers a generous portion of south-central Labrador, it’s an area where one cannot travel far without needing a canoe to continue their journey. One of the more popular fishing locales for Coopers’ guests, Minipi Lake, stretches 35 miles – from Black Fly inlet in the southeast to the Outlet, the Gorge and Minipi Lodge in the northwest.

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Channeling his inner Lee Wulff, our beaver pilot Chris Woodward has the adventure bug. Chris is always hoping for that one guest who’s not afraid to fly the extra mile into the wild for what could be the ‘big one.’

“We are always looking for some new places to go on a fly out,” says Chris, “The best thing is to sit down with (head guide) Ray and I the day before and decide if you want to go to the places we know are great like Little Minipi and Big Minipi, or take a chance on somewhere new. Who knows it might be great or not so great, but that’s all part of the adventure isn’t it?”

In this excerpt from an interview last season, Minipi veteran Duncan Lewis recalls finding what guests now know as Black Duck drainage:

People had flown over these lakes in float plane because it’s the route between Minipi and Anne Marie, they would say they could look out the window and see fish rising in a couple of big lakes up there. There were enough stories about the fish rising that one day when there was nothing going on, Howard and I decided we would go over and have a look. I’m going to say we were the first ones, at least in the Coopers’ time frame, to walk in there. Howard is a real woodsman. We got as far as we could in the water and then we took off through the woods. He picked up on an old trappers trail – it looked just like all of the other woods to me but he said it was a trappers trail and we followed all the way through to the landing spot at the other drainage where we found a nice plunge pool. There were no hatches or anything going on at that time so we took out the gas stove and made tea. We sat there long enough that the hatch started and it turned out to be a wonderful fishing event. We caught great big ones, turned out to be quite a few of them (trout). That peaked our interest of course and we ended up cutting some trail.

When Lee Wulff discovered Minipi in the 50s, he had a vision of keeping its waters and all the fish that called it home, safe. This upcoming fishing season will be our 38th year, and the fishing today is as good if not better because we’ve followed through with Lee’s wishes. There is much left to discover within the boundaries of the giant Minipi Watershed, we’re looking forward to finding out what’s ahead.

For more on our named fishing locations, click here. To make your own discoveries, give us a call.

Hex vs. Drake

When Bear Andrews first asked me to go with him to Labrador, he enticed me with descriptions of the big “Hex” fly hatches and spectacular rises by monster Brookies. It worked. I couldn’t wait to see that. Brook Trout have always been my favorite trout and a chance to catch a true leviathan was too much… I HAD to go.

Well, the hatches materialized and so did the Brookies. Bear wasn’t pulling my leg. Labrador turned out to be everything he said it was. At one point, I was crouched down in the boat with my camera lens focused on a big Hex just a couple of feet away. Fish were rising all around us, but I wanted a photo to commemorate the occasion. I was waiting for a big Brookie to come along and snatch up that fly right in front of my camera. I don’t remember how long I waited but it was several minutes.

Meanwhile, those trout were still rising and I was getting antsy. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. As soon as I stood up a huge Brook Trout rose right in front of me and that Hex I was watching disappeared. 

The “Hex” fly of Labrador is a fly they call the Green Drake. It’s actually a close relative of Hexagenia limbata, or what fishermen in Michigan call the “Michigan Mayfly”. It’s considered the to be the filet mignon of trout flies by most trout. Fishing the Hex hatch in Michigan is one of the major highlights of our fishing season. This is when the big boys come out of the woodwork to play… especially at dark.

The photo accompanying this story is a Green Drake or Hex fly. I like the photo because my wedding ring had turned upside down and the image of a mayfly matching the one on my hand can be seen. No… I didn’t plan it that way. Just a happy accident. One of my best friends made our wedding rings for my wife and I, and since I’m a fanatic fly fisherman, and so is my friend, I naturally asked for a Hex fly on it. My wife chose a Dragonfly for hers. At the end of our wedding ceremony my wife and I walked beneath a row of crossed fly rods held by my fly fishing buddies. It’s my favorite photo from our wedding. Our minister understood, he’s a fisherman too.

Oh by the way… the crossed fly rods was my wife’s idea! She’s a keeper.