SOUTHEND, Saskatchewan, Canada – Trout Camp is a crazy-beautiful fishing lodge more than 600 miles north of the point where the Montana/North Dakota border meets Saskatchewan, Canada. Trout Camp is endless miles of untainted, nutrition-rich waters surrounded by infinite acres of evergreens beneath startlingly blue skies. The result is utter solitude and long days of ultimate fishing.
Trout Camp population: a gazillion fish (mostly big northerns and lake trout), many moose and just enough bears. Also, knowledgeable natives at Trout Camp will meet you at the dock and provide the fishing experience of a lifetime.
You can’t drive to Trout Camp because there are no roads to Trout Camp; but you can fly north from the U.S./Canada border through Saskatchewan in the direction of Trout Camp, then drive farther north for six hours to Southend, Sask., and then take a smaller plane still farther north that will land on Reindeer Lake – home of Trout Camp.
While the U.S. can claim some of the most scenic, awe-inspiring and even majestic geographic sites on the globe, none are quite like Trout Camp.
“Most people who come here will catch the largest freshwater fish they’ll catch in their entire life,” said Andy Millward, general manager of Trout Camp, when we first met him a year ago. “There are just very few places in the world like it. It’s almost impossible to understand how good it is until you see it for yourself.”
Reindeer Lake and other connecting rivers and lakes provide ideal habitat for lunker lake trout and pike longer than your arm, including Deep Bay, a six-mile circular bay west of Trout Camp with channels 50 feet deep and pockets as deep as 700 feet.
“Everyone up here says Deep Bay was formed by a meteor, and I guess they’re right,” said Millward. “It’s an amazing place to catch fish.”
Like most fish camps north of the border, the fishing season here is short but sweet: Ice typically disappears by June 1, and camp shuts down only a few months later (by Oct. 1) when ice is returning to the near horizon. But also similar to many parts of the Northwest U.S., Trout Camp in 2018 experienced record high temperatures.
“By Memorial Day it was in the 80s this year,” said Millward, “and the average temperature that time of year is the low 40s. Still, it was a good and successful season. There’s an incredible amount of fish here.”
Though the camp’s first name is “Trout,” Millward and crew are equally dedicated to pike fishing. But, rather than marketing their site to Midwest anglers hungry for a prolific pike or walleye experience, Trout Camp attracts outdoor fanatics from the Rocky Mountain region.
“The majority of our guests come from Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado,” he said. “We don’t think of our camp as a typical fishing lodge destination. We offer pike fishing that’s more like saltwater fishing in the Florida flats. It’s sight fishing from the front of the boat. But we also have spectacular lake trout (mackinaw) fishing.
“We apply the same thoughts to our marketing. We advertise on social media rather than running a lot of print ads in fishing publications. Also, rather than having a small presence at a lot of outdoors shows, our goal is to have a large presence in one or two big shows. We feel we can modernize fishing in a way that anglers appreciate.”
Millward’s family has owned and operated the Trout Camp lodge since 2012. Andy’s older brother Robert purchased Trout Camp from the original owners after fishing here several times, and Andy’s nephew Tyler Praska is Trout Camp’s chef and marketing manager.
Mercury is the power of choice for the fleet at Trout camp, from a dozen small skiffs to larger boats for guided trips. Mercury FourStroke engines range from 15hp to 90hp.
“The Mercury engines are super reliable, but they’re also extremely quiet, which fits perfectly with the atmosphere of Trout Camp,” said Millward.
(REINDEER LODGE) TROUT CAMP AT A GLANCE
Facilities/lodging: Main lodge with dining room, lounge, laundry; 12 guest cabins with full amenities (each accommodates four to 10 guests); fish and game-processing facilities
Location: Reindeer Lake in north-central Saskatchewan, Canada
Fishing: Primarily northern pike, Mackinaw (lake trout); walleye and grayling are available in outlying fisheries
Boats: 18-foot aluminum skiffs powered by Mercury FourStroke outboards
Season: June 1 to Oct. 1