As part of a new, ongoing series of experience-based features by guest writers, SaskSecrets is pleased to provide this overview of a fishing trip at Ubiquity Lake. Thank you to Jeffrey L. Frischkorn, a staff writer with the News-Herald, an Ohio daily newspaper, for providing permission to share his story (written June 14, 2002).
A pair of years have come and gone since I last took on Canadian trophy northern pike with a fly rod.
Yet the allure of the north country (the smell of jack pines and listening to the maniacal call of loons voicing their opinions) continued to tug until I just had to take the bait. Resistance proved futile.
So I recently packed my fly fishing gear and some warm clothing. Then I leap-frogged from Cleveland to Toronto to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and even further north, above the 57th parallel. I arrived four aircraft later and aboard a float plane to Ubiquity Lake, a sliver of water that would prove a most pleasant surprise.
Day 1 Good things do come in small packages.
Jeff Willick wore more than just a wide grin while in the process of becoming a forklift for one very large northern pike. Ive been slimed, said the beaming Willick, his shirt now lathered in the jelly-like goo that coats members of the pike family. Willick (of Bonnyville, Alberta, and brother-in-law to Ubiquity Lake Outfitters co-owner Steve Ackerman) had hoisted aboard a 25-pound pike. The fish had targeted a red-and-yellow-colored Lefty Deceiver fly. It also transferred some of its naturally slimy varnish onto Willick. The fly was one of two dozen built by Grand River Tackles Bruce Dickerson for the express purpose of catching pike. The feathered lures disintegrated under the constant assault of some very large northern pike that thought they were in for an easy meal.
Everybody who comes here catches at least one 20-pound pike, said Rod Higgins, one of Ubiquity Lake Outfitter three co-owners. Such talk is more fact than brag, though the claim can be challenged when the lake is viewed from the air. And from the air is really the only practical way to get to Ubiquity Lake, since it is anchored north of Nowhere and staked an equal distance west of Nothing. Neither is Ubiquity distinctive, being one of thousands of similar lakes that litter northern Saskatchewan. Some fishermen might even call Ubiquity Lake a 98-pound weakling, as I first thought. The lake measures no more than six miles from head to heel and its widest point is a bulb that bulges to about a mile. Ubiquity¹s depth plunges to around 165 feet. The thing is, says Higgins, the lake sees very little fishing pressure. Ubiquity Lake Outfitters operates only for a brief period each summer and then again for a couple of weeks in September in order to accommodate a handful of autumn black-bear hunters.
Allowed to entertain around 75 fishing guests annually, Ubiquity seasonally handles only about half that number, Higgins said. What results is trophy-class northern pike fishing of the first order. While Ubiquity may be petite in stature, it more than holds its fishing own against other Saskatchewan lakes pumped up by geological steroids. Just how good is Ubiquity Lakes fishing? At one of the lakes popular fishing holes, called Jackfish Bay, I caught pike on four successive casts with my fly-fishing rig. Even more impressive, the combined weight of this quartet of fish totaled more than 80 pounds. Twice also, I caught a pike using one of my two fly rods and as Willick entertained himself with unhooking the first fish, Id cast again with the other outfit and proceed to land another 20-pound class pike. Im running out of clichés to use, Willick said.
How many 15- to 25-pound fish does that make? I keep telling ya, you need to keep a diary. Of course, no one would believe it. Theyd say that youre just telling em a fish story. Maybe so, but it is a good one. And we havent even mentioned Ubiquitys stellar lake trout fisheries.
Day 2 Love at first sight
I could see myself coming back here, I thought as Willick and I broke free of the tree-lined barrier and out onto Carpenter Lakes edge. My mental notations quickly added this caveat, however: But Id bring Bev. Shed love it, too.
That I would tow my wife to a remote outpost camp pointed to my instant affection for the place. It is an alloy of merged attractions, being nestled at the teardrop of a small river that dumps into Carpenter Lake and from Ubiquity Lake. The two lakes are separated by less than a mile as the raven flies, with Ubiquity standing about 3 feet taller in elevation.
Hard-pressed to the pool created by the small streams outflow sits a log cabin (Ubiquity Lake Outfitters seldom-used outpost camp). This cabin rests on a squat, sandy spit of land and provides a to-die-for view of Carpenter Lake.
Just about everyone who comes to Ubiquity spends one day fishing Carpenter Lake, though no one uses the cabin. It needs some work, but it is structurally sound, said Higgins as he helped truck in Willicks and my gear for a days worth of fishing.
Even the short portage between the lakes proved a pleasant diversion, a stroll along an etched path that is easily followed through a sparse jack pine forest.
Fished even less than Ubiquity, Carpenter Lake has nailed down its place among the four lakes for which Higgins and Ackerman have provincial authority to run their outfitting business.
You wonder how the next day could ever top the one before, but, you know, they do, Willick said as he released a 24-pound pike taken from a shallow channel that curves along Carpenters ample waistline. Repeated passes from one end of the channel to the other yielded a steady stream of pike, many of which stretched to the length of a yardstick. Or even longer.
Good thing you arent here for an entire week or else youd run out of flies, Willick said.
While no danger existed that my stock of Dickerson-made Lefty Deceivers would vaporize, they were taking a powerful beating. And I still had one more day of pike fishing left.
Day 3 A work in progress
Above Ubiquity Lake, the air did not even whisper. No conversation of jack pine branches swishing their gossip nor the sound of waves butting in with their two cents.
Instead, the lack of wind kept Ubiquitys surface untroubled (and that proved the pikes downfall). I earlier had told Willick that if the wind didnt blow, wed slay the pike. With no breeze to ruffle the waters surface, Id be able to spot pike in Ubiquitys mud-bottom bays. On Day 3, I was able to back up my claim.
Arent you tired yet? I know I am, Willick said, plopping down on a boat seat.
Willicks reality check came after I had cashed in on a 48-inch pike, the third such pike hooked and the second one landed this day. Each of these fish nearly stripped the reels down to their backing. All the gears were in sync and the pike were laying in squads throughout Jackfish Bay. Pluck one fish with a fly and a second pike was equally eager to snap at a Lefty Deceiver.
I always wondered if we were catching the same big pike over and over again, but now I know were not. Just look at how many there are here, Willick said.
Providing for the opportunity to catch such trophy fish is a task that will continue to expand for the owners of Ubiquity Lake Outfitters, too. This is a work still very much in progress as the affair is being hammered, sawed, bolted and nailed together. We came here on a Sunday and had the lodge up by Thursday. It was originally intended as a get-away for us, Higgins said. That was several years ago. Somewhere along the way, the outfits three owners decided to reformat their game plan to include paying customers. The fly in the ointment to pulling it off was that each owner also possessed a full-time job. Consequently, each co-owner takes a stab at being the operations chief cook and bottle washer, extemporizing as the need arises, Higgins said. As such, theyve become carpenters, plumbers and electricians. But dressing up the place is more likely to impress first-time visitors, the owners believe, though most people who come easily overlook the lodges rough edges simply because the fishing is excellent and the grub is no less accommodating.
Were going to put in a diesel-powered electric generator. That way we can do away with the smaller Honda that were using now, Higgins said. Other to-do items include extending the lodges front end to incorporate a living room. This will offer separate dining and informal relaxation areas, Higgins said.
Well knock out the wall here, Higgins said, pointing to the space now occupied by studs and drywall over the kitchen stove. On the back of the building, facing east, is planned a screened-in porch. The view of the morning sunrise is beautiful, added Linda Higgins, Rods wife, and who wants the porch the most of all. Improvements for the outpost cabin at Carpenter Lake are no less an assignment that the owners want to accomplish within the next year or so. Refurbishment will include a new overlay on the cabins roof and one on its interior floor. The cabins facelift will also feature spruced-up cooking elements and sleeping arrangements. That way youll be able to bring your wife. Id like to meet her, Linda Higgins said.
And Id like Bev to see for herself that Im not just giving in to another fish story.
Jeff Frischkorn, The News-Herald¹s outdoors/earth sciences writer, is developing a slide show on his recent trip to Ubiquity Lake. It will join Frischkorn¹s three other slide shows, including his award-winning ³Fly-Fishing Across Canada.² For information about scheduling one of Frischkorn¹s slide shows, contact him at (440) 954-7194 or by e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org.