By Kent Danjanovich
Senior Editor

I remember the first time I visited Big Sand Lake Lodge in northern Manitoba, Canada.  I had heard so much about all of the great fishing opportunities that they had available and the chance of catching northern pike, lake trout and walleye on both spincast and fly rods had me so excited, you would have thought you were watching a little kid waiting for Christmas Day to arrive.

Well, that trip didn’t let me down as we caught six pike over 42 inches, loads of walleye and a ton of lakers, with the biggest weighing over 40 pounds!  To say that our expectations were met would have been an understatement and Big Sand Lake Lodge became one of our first Platinum Approved Outfitters.

Since that time, I have had the opportunity to visit Rick Bohna and his staff many times and you know what, I am just as excited every time I make the trek north to partake of the great opportunities that they have to offer.  Whether it be at their main lodge or at one of their four outpost camps, the fishing is nothing short of amazing and the surroundings, spectacular!

As if the fishing isn’t enough to keep me coming back for more, over the last couple of years we have been able to also partake of the great hunting opportunities that they have available.  My fellow Pro-Staffer, Dave Revering joined me on a hunt back in 2009 and was able to harvest a beautiful bull moose that now adorns his game room.  In 2010, my business partner, Mike Deming joined me for his first visit to Big Sand in hopes of not only catching a ton of fish, but also the chance to pull back his bow on a monster Manitoba black bear.  Unfortunately, a very late ice-off put the cub ash on our hunt, but the fishing still came through with flying colors as we were able to catch and release hundreds of fish, with another five master angler pike over 41 inches.

The summer of 2012 found me again venturing north, as Wes Atkinson and Jerome Vinet joined me for another great adventure.  Wes was able to take a great Manitoba black bear with his bow on his second night in the stand and the rest of the week went something like this…

Let me back up just a little.  After arriving at the lodge, we partook of a great fresh walleye brunch and then hooked-up with our guides, Edwin and Mark.  We loaded our equipment into our boats and headed to Wes’ tree stand.  Wes determined that the bear that had been frequenting that bait looked to be a smaller bear, so we strapped a trail cam to a tree and loaded up the tree stand and headed to another location on the other side of the lake.  This location was more to Wes’ liking and we set up the stand next to the one already there in hopes that Jerome would be able to film the hunt for a future episode of Sportsman’s News Television.   With Wes and Jerome in there stands, Edwin, Mark and I headed back to the main lodge for dinner.

After a great steak dinner, I met Mark at the dock and we then headed out for a little pike action on the fly in a secluded bay only a short boat ride from the lodge.  We found fish boiling all over and my first five casts produced fish in the tiny bay.  On the sixth cast, a big swirl engulfed my fly and bit through my mono above my eight inches of metal leader.  I quickly grabbed my fly box and tied on a rabbit tailed Dahlberg Diver  top-water fly.  No sooner had it hit the water and three wakes moved in its direction and a massive explosion came to the surface.  I excitedly set the hook and another big northern gave me a great run for my money.  In the next 45 minutes, over 30 fish came to the side of our boat.  Yes, I said 30 Fish!!!  Reluctantly, Mark gave me that “We need to head in” look and off we went across the smooth waters of Big Sand Lake into the most beautiful sunset you have ever seen.

That night Wes and Jerome made it back to the lodge at about 11 pm.  They had a nice bear come into their bait, but Wes was holding out for a true Manitoba big boy if possible.  So it was off to bed with high hopes for the next day.

After breakfast, we headed down the eastern portion of the massive 70 mile long lake in search of more pike and walleye.  After a morning of plenty of northerns, our guides headed for one of their walleye holes and in no time we had seven nice 20 inchers in the bottom of our boats.  We then made our way to the designated shore lunch spot and Edwin and Mark prepared a great walleye, fries and beans lunch for us.  As soon as all of our bellies were full, we again headed to more secluded bays full of northerns.

A storm that had been building reached us at about 3 pm and our guides said that they thought we should head for the lodge.  The ride across the lake was a wet and bumpy one, but we soon found ourselves drying out comfortably in our cabins.  Edwin soon knocked on Wes and Jerome’s door and ask what they wanted to do about bear hunting.  Wes looked at the sky and said “Let’s give it another 30 minutes and then make a decision”.  At about 4:30 pm , they headed back out to their stand.  Waves of rain continued to make their way through our area that evening, so Mark and I decided not to go back out for evening fishing.

At 9:30 pm I heard footsteps at Wes’ and Jerome’s door, so I flew off of my bed to see of their success.  They were all smiles as they informed me that Wes had taken a big black bear with his bow, estimated at around 300 pounds and easily over seven feet.  Our main job for the trip was now done and the next three days would be solely dedicated to fishing.  Well you know what they say, “I guess somebody has got to do it!”

Big fish and big numbers of fish filled our next three days.  We even were able to get some great Go-Pro footage of walleye and pike taking lures and flies under water and you will be able to share that with us in an upcoming edition of SNTV.  On our last night, Jerome joined me as we ventured back to the little bay that I clobbered the pike in on my first night.  As we slowly eased our way in, boils could be seen all over the water.  Jerome quickly tied on a top-water fly and I grabbed the camera and again, no-stop action was ours for the next two hours.  We each caught and released over 50 fish, with the biggest of the night being a 40 incher that Jerome was able to bring to the net.

As I close this article on another great trip to Big Sand Lake Lodge, I just want to leave you with one more comment.  One of the reasons that the fishing is so good at Big Sand is because of their strict catch and release policies.  The only fish that are kept are those that are used for their fantastic shore lunches and all of the trophy sized fish are quickly released back into the water for all to enjoy in the future.  Many destinations around the world should learn from these practices and each of us should take heed when we are blessed with the opportunity of hooking into a big fish and then being able to revel in the moment as we release it back into the water.  Big Sand Lake Lodge continues to produce great results and if you are looking for a world class fishing or hunting adventure in one of the most beautiful places on earth, give them a call today and they can set you up for a trip you will always remember.  BIG FISH, BIG MOOSE and BIG BLACK BEARS, what more can you ask for? Big Sand Lake Lodge, 800-348-5824 or visit them on our website or www.bigsandlakelodge.com.