What is the weather like?

The Northwest Territories has a relatively dry, cold climate, with long winters and warm summers drenched in sunlight. Temperatures can range from highs of +30°C (85°F) in summer to - 40°C (-40°F) in winter.

South of the Arctic Circle, during the summer months, the sun rises early in the morning and sets late at night with 21 1/2 hours of daylight on June 21, north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set below the horizon in summer. This is truly the Land of the Midnight Sun.

What are the bugs like?

On the water – for the most part the bugs leave you alone. During June and the first part of July the mosquito’s are at their height.  The mosquito’s thin out after July 15.  Black flies are not too bad, but they can be annoying.  Black fly season is later in the year from later August to mid September.  Sunrise and sunset and after or before a rain are the most active times.

Fortunately if you’re on the water bugs aren’t an issue. On land, during certain times in the summer, they can be formidable, but with appropriate insect repellant or a good bug hat or jacket your trip will be enjoyable. Horse and deer flies are out during mid summer when the temperature is at it warmest and the wind is calm.

Bring good deep woods bug repellant and a bug jacket or bug hat for those hikes in the woods. We have plenty of bug hats for those evenings you want to take a hike in the back woods for those fabulous pictures of the Lodge.

What species of fish are there in the lakes?

Primary Sport fish

Arctic Grayling – the sailfish of the north! Most beautiful of all northern species. These fish are elusive in the summer but can be caught with spring and fly fishing gear through out the fishing season. They are best fished in spring just after ice out.

Northern Pike – the most exciting fish to catch. Pike are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. The pike generally hides in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods, and is then capable of remarkable acceleration, sometimes propelling it a metre into the air (though it rarely leaves the surface).

Lake Trout – the most abundant sport fish in the lake. Lake trout is not a trout but is actually is classified as a char, the lodge record weighing almost 47 lbs. The lake trout is a slow growing fish; it is also very late to mature. Lakers as they are commonly called can be caught trolling, spin fishing or jigging.  Lake trout are dependent on cold, oxygen-rich waters.  Lakers can be found spawning in the channel between the two lakes in late August to late September.

Lake Whitefish – hard to catch but can be seen jumping in the evening. The reclusive lake whitefish prefers to swim in the company of a school of fellow whitefish in the gloomy, cool water at depths of up to 200 feet and deeper as summer’s heat climbs, the main reason it requires extra skill to catch one.

Walleye – easy to catch and simple orange and yellow rubber tail 3/8 oz jigs is all you need. These fish are a fisherman's favourite but they are only caught in Johnston and Barker lakes, only a 10 min air charter flight from the lodge. These fish are available in depths of 5 to 10 feet and like dark tea stained warmer water. Walleye can be found in the inlet streams as well as rocky points.  Pike are found in the same areas as the walleye and you are assured to catch pike when jigging.

Secondary Bait fish

Burbot – generally caught in the winter through the ice. The burbot is often maligned as being too ugly to be worth an angler's time, however, hidden by its mottled green camouflage is a valuable food and recreational fish.

Cisco – common bait fish in the lake. They usually run in schools and it is common to see balls of these bait fish on the depth finder. When you see bait balls get ready for some great lake trout action.

White Sucker – usually found in the stream or on sandy bottom, forage fish for pike. Suckers are soft-rayed fishes that possess a toothless, protractile mouth with distinctive thick lips. The white sucker is a bottom feeding fish and spends most of their time in shallow, warm waters. In bays, estuaries and tributary rivers, both species make their homes in holes and areas around waterfalls or other underwater obstructions.


Fishing Licenses

If you are between the ages of 16 and 65, you must carry an NWT fishing license with you every time you go fishing. Licenses are available at the lodge.

How big are the fish and how many can I catch?

We have an abundance of fish on both Graham and Duncan lakes. Our guests regularly reel in Northern Pike up to 50 inches, Grayling up to 22 inches and Lake Trout in the 40 lbs range.

Northern Pike are best caught in the early summer just after ice out and the spawn has been completed.  You will often find them in the shallow bays waiting in ambush for their prey. This is the best time as you can hunt for the big ones and watch the aggressive pike smash the top water lures at every opportunity. Pike are a lot of fun for the fly fisher persons as the pike will generally “stalk” their prey and take a streamer that is fished on top of the water.  Later in the year they disburse into deeper or flowing water looking for larger forage such as suckers and grayling. The pike are less concentrated but still can be caught in the shallow bays on sunny days. We have two rivers and several outpost lakes that we fish for the pike. Spend a day catching these fish and you will be amazed how fast the day goes by.  Expect to catch lots and big ones too!

The average weight for a Lake Trout in early summer in the 5 to 7 pound range, with many caught in the 10 lb to 20 lb range.  In the fall the lake trout fishing gets even better with the average lake trout caught is about 2 lbs heavier than in the early summer. The current Lodge record is 47 inches or 40+ lbs caught and released in June 2016. In September, you may even catch a glimpse of spawning trout after dark in the channel between the 2 lakes.  You will see hundreds of spawning pairs so thick that you could almost walk across their backs.  It is fun to take a flashlight or under a full moon watch these fish as they go through there reproduction phase.

The average Walleye caught in Johnston and Barker lakes is about 3 lbs, however these fish can grow as large as 10 lbs. These fish are best caught about 2 to 3 weeks after ice has cleared from the lake.  You will probaly expereince the best walleye fishing in June and September with catches of over 100 fish for each angler commonly reported.

Arctic Grayling is the other popular sport fish in the lake.  Often found in the McRae River and the Braden-Davis channel at the Lodge these fish will rise to a fly or pursuer a small spinner. Grayling are found on the lakes in rocky areas and are pound for pound the fiercest fighting fish in the lake.  Use ultra light spinning gear or fly fishing gear to catch these beautiful sailfish of the North. Early summer is the best time to catch these fish, but you can catch these fish all summer long.

It is common to for a person experience daily catches of 20 to 30 trout per person.  Top that off with another 20 pike and a 6 grayling you will have a fine day of fishing at Yellow Dog Lodge.  You can also try for the Grand slam of 4 species.  Top that off with a bonus of a whitefish and you now have 5 species you can catch at our lodge.

We’re happy to take you for shore lunch but we encourage catch and release. Let them go and let them grow.  You will have even more fun catching them again next year when they are bigger. 

What lures do the fish bite on?

Each angler that visited us seemed to have there own preferences and all seemed to do equally well. The local fishermen regularly use a bait harness for catching lake trout. Using 7 inch frozen cisco seemed to be typical. A variety of large spoons and plugs were also used.

Early season to mid summer the Lake Trout can be caught right off or decks or docks, and are abundant throughout the lakes. Catches of 20 to 30 fish per day per person are common. Lake Trout are sensitive to weather, sunlight and temperature. Bring your favorite lures with you or we would be happy to supply you with what you need. When the water temperature warms to 60F the trout will go deeper and jigs and buzz bombs are the best lures, however trout will eat a cisco trolled, use a 1 oz or 4 oz slip weight to get the bait down deeper. When the water temperature drops below 58F the trout run shallower. Late August and September is when you will get the largest size. You can see hundreds of them in the channel between the 2 lakes. They are hungry and will eat just about anything.

Northern Pike are best fished in the early summer when they are concentrated in the shallows, when you can see them and the weeds have not yet grown to the surface. There is nothing more exciting when you can see a “40+ inch torpedo” heading for your lure. Once summer heats up the pike are more dispersed and can be caught in deeper water. Pike fight like heck and when aggressive will actually jump out of the water to strike a lure and tail walk across the surface. We have seen tackle if left unattended go overboard with a pike on the end dragging the rod through the weeds.

Walleye are best fished with jigs and twister tail baits. Natural minnows work ine with walley rigs. Small sinking or suspending rapellas trolled slow with work when trying to find the fish.  Fish for them on rocky points, sunmerged reef and inlet streams. More often than naught, pike are intermixed with walleys and you may need a wire or heavy mono leader to keep from loosing your bait.

Don’t forget the fly-fishing opportunities as Arctic Grayling are readily available in the area, actually right off the dock beside the lodge! These grayling are beautiful and fun to catch. They are very powerful for their size and can be caught on small spinners on and flies. If you are not careful you can hook into a pike feeding on the grayling. Then you are in for a treat, pike on light tackle with no leader!

For more information please download the PDF.

What should I bring?

Note: Restrictions of weight apply; no more than 50 lbs or 20 kgs per person is allowed on the charter aircraft. Alcohol is avialable for sale at our fully licensed bar.

Check list of things you might want to bring are:

  • A good quality rain suit
  • Waterproof footwear
  • Quality polarized sunglasses (to see the fish with)
  • Down vest, turtleneck or chamois shirts
  • Windbreaker or medium jacket (for early spring or fall)
  • Bug or screen jacket or hat (for early season)
  • Wool socks
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Dry bag for the boat in case of inclement weather
  • Vital medications
  • Passports (if crossing into and out of Canada)
  • Toiletries
  • Insect Repellent and Sun block
  • Camera, film, video camera, batteries
  • Shorts
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Long pants
  • Hat
  • Fishing Tackle
  • Fishing Reels
  • Fishing Rods (we have rods at the lodge)
  • Old tennis shoes (for wading)
  • Neoprene waders (optional)
  • Portable fish finders (optional)

It is best to dress in layers, as the sun warms the lake and land it is good to peel off the outer layers. Temperature and wind conditions can vary greatly so “be prepared” and bring good quality warm clothing and protection from the insects and sun.

Please download the PDF for a complete check list of recomended items to bring.

Are you open during any winter months?

Posted by Gord Gin December 15, 2018:

We are open for private guest functions during the winters from March 1st to April 20th.  Please book well ahead to reserve your Aurora winter excursion. We also offer the best Aurora viewing in the NWT from August 15 to Sept 30. Escape the City of Yellowknife and away from the ambient lights of the city to our Wilderness lodge.

Our expected summer season start date is: June 1st. That date is depandant on the spring ice breakup allowing us to access the lodge via float plane. If the ice breakup is not an issue,  we will open June 8th.

Please call us to confirm your reservation at (403) 668-9936

Are the bears dangerous?

Bears can be dangerous but if you follow some guidelines, you can stay safe.

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Hike in a group, and keep children close at hand.
  • Make your presence known (call out)or sing
  • Hike during daylight hours & stay on the trail.
  • Watch for bear signs: scat, claw marks, diggings, logs or stumps torn apart, etc.
  • Do not leave food or garbage out in the open.

Stay alert!

Black Bear Encounters

Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A black bear will usually detect your presence and flee the area before you notice unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their foods.

If a black bear is visible, but not close, alter your route so that you will move away from its area.

If a black bear approaches, do not run. Remain calm, continue facing the bear and slowly back away. If the bear continues to approach, try to group together and pick up small children. Try to scare the bear away by shouting and acting aggressively.

If a black bear attacks, it is suggested to fight back using everything in your power fists, sticks, rocks.

Can I see the aurora or northern lights?

The aurora borealis is also called the northern lights since it is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere. The aurora borealis is visible at the lodge from mid August to October and from January to April. The amount of sunlight available that time of year is diminished so you may watch the magical light show that nature provides.  The Aurora is like the weather, the Aurora is a result of space weather.

Typically the aurora appears either as a diffuse glow or as "curtains" that approximately extend in the east-west direction. At some times, they form "quiet arcs"; at others ("active aurora"), they evolve and change constantly. Each curtain consists of many parallel rays, each lined up with the local direction of the magnetic field lines, suggesting that aurora is shaped by the earth's magnetic field. Indeed, satellites show aurora electrons to be guided by magnetic field lines, spiraling around them while moving earthwards.

Aurora appears when electrons and protons, flying through space from the sun on the solar winds, penetrate the earth's magnetic field at its weakest points -- the North and South Pole. These electrons and protons collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the Earth's atmosphere, producing the Northern Lights. The different concentrations of gases present in the atmosphere will cause the aurora to change color.  The most common color is green which indicates a high concentration of molecular oxygen.  In rare cases the aurora may seem blue and violet; in this case the molecular nitrogen levels are elevated.

Bring you camera with a good solid tripod and catch the lights as they become more visible in late August. One way to view them is from our hot tub. On a clear night you can hear the sounds of the trout jumping and the water rippling in the background while you gaze up at the stars.

Some other links for you are: