Crook’s Lake Lodge in Labrador is a dream trout fishing destination. This is a lodge that specially caters to its guests to produce amazing fishing vacations. Chris Sinclair guides for the lodge and shares with us how he approaches this special trout fishing place of the world. He goes into a lot of detail that will help anyone considering a trip to Crook’s Lake Lodge or Labrador to fish for trout.
What are some of your favorite home waters?
I was born and raised on the banks of the St. Mary’s River, Nova Scotia, Canada. A great salmon river that I didn’t get to experience as numbers declined and the season was closed a year after I started fly fishing heavily.
My home-waters would be considered elsewhere, a dark water tributary to the main branch, a small brook trout stream cut through the granite and bogs of it’s headwaters and the country rock at is foot. Quite the complex stream, leading me to explore various ways to target and catch fish.
You went to guide in Labrador at Crook’s Lake Lodge. When did you guide for them? What made you want to guide and fish there?
I guide for Crooks Lake Lodge from the first of June to the middle of July, starting in the summer of 2016 and continuing to present. The water warms as the summer moves on and the fish become highly stressed and can become injured easily when fought in such water conditions.
What were some of the immediate differences from your home waters that you had to adjust to when first getting there?
Fishing was quite similar actually. The fly hatches were the same, just heavier. The fish acted in similar ways, just larger. The water was very similar to my home-waters, but much “bigger”. Fishing techniques such as dry flies, streamer fishing and nymphing with and without indicators were both popular at home, but the largest learning curve was likely fishing deep heavy indicator rigs, nothing like I have experience before.
How would you overall describe the fishing at Crook’s Lake Lodge?
Crooks Lake Lodge is some of the best dry fly fishing for Brook Trout that I have experienced in the world. I use the term mecca to best describe the hatches and overall fishing. It is something you really just have to experience to fully grasp, catching average fish ranging from 4 to 6 pounds. You are in for a treat on small dry flies.
It is a true wilderness experience that will leave you in awe, and wanting more. All flies must be barbless and catch and release is mandatory. I believe that is the only way to maintain a fishery such as this. The opportunity to fish the lake and the river is a huge advantage of booking at Crooks as fighting large fish in a river system such as this is something to see.
What was your most memorable fishing day while there?
I don’t think I could narrow it out to having one particular most memorable day guiding at Crooks Lake Lodge. One week in particular sticks out, a few lads from Halifax, Nova Scotia came out who were avid salmon anglers. It was a bit tricky to teach them the way of the trout, but when they got onto the techniques the dry fly fishing was impeccable.
The fish were on caddis hard, size 16, 18, and even 20s were popping off all week, some days more so that others. I netted so many fish that week, a lot of happy faces in the boat and some insane dry fly takes! It wouldn’t have been as special if the fishing was easy, the flies not bad or the conditions not changing. Seeing these hardcore Atlantic Salmon dry fly guys toss small trout patterns to sipping fish, and the immaculate casts were something that will stick with me.
On top of the fishing, these sports were fine men, and I became close with one of the pair after the week of guiding. If I had to ask for the perfect week it may have been that one, really easy going fisherman-about the fishing and the fish were a bonus.
The last afternoon I had with the guys, we got telling fishing stories and lies and the like. We were at a pool we call “one-left” or “one-and-a-half”, we were set up on the pool and fishing the deep hole, and just as we were about to leave I spotted 3 or 4 large trout sipping dark dun mayflies about size 14 just behind us in 3 feet of water. The lad could have reached out and touched the fish on the nose with his rod tip as the fish rose.
All the fishing stories must have got to him as he didn’t believe me about the fish. I pointed them out and he made the perfect short cast with a #14 Dark Dun Parachute and he took it at first chance. After a well fought battle, I netted the biggest fish of the week between the two, and the wager was through. It was quite the week, and it couldn’t have ended off any better.
Overall, what were some of the best hatches you had a chance to fish while there?
The best hatches include the #12 Dark Duns, #14 Dark Duns, the wide variety of caddis hatches, as well as the sucker spawn “hatch”. Fishing setups are similar across the board, for dry fly angling a single piece of 6 pound Maxima Chameleon mono for a leader is what I recommend, sometimes for picky fish for smaller flies, 4 pound of the same leader material is used for a tippet.
The large rough boulders make using this abrasion resistant leader a must! Fluorocarbon is something I don’t even consider when talking these large and in charge fish, in and around the rocky sections of the upper Eagle River.
A key setup for fishing the caddis hatches is a two fly rig, one fly a #12 Deer Hair Caddis, and a #14 Peddle Caddis Emerger tied a foot away from the first fly. Both will hook fish, but the emerger is the one that will work best, the larger dry is just a sighter to give the angler an idea where the fly is.
How would you describe Crook’s Lake Lodge to someone who may thinking about a trip there for the first time?
The lodge is a true Labrador gem, something you think of when trout fishing comes to mind. It has everything you need to make your trout fishing trip memorable! A great, hard working crew, a humble and comfortable lodge to exchange fish stories, enjoy tasty-homemade food, and rest up after an eventful day of fishing. We have wireless internet as well, a great addition for business people who are at the lodge to keep in touch with their duties, or the dad who wants to keep in touch with his family throughout the week. The crew is hardworking and very abiding, this trout lodge is everything you want in a wilderness experience, that is one with the environment.
What are 5 must things to know for anglers preparing for a trip to catch Brook trout out of Crook’s Lake Lodge?
5 expectations you should have when coming to Crooks:
1. The fishing can be hot and cold; some days are better than others and the fishing isn’t always cast, and hold on. Caddis hatches usually lead to picky trout, and a challenge that makes catching one even better.
2. Weather can get rough, and wind is no stranger to us at Crooks. Often it blows daily in the spring and can lead to large waves on the lake and river, thus making casting much harder.
3. We tailor the fishing to your needs, to make your experience the one you expected when you booked.
4. We are the only lodge on the lake, and the water is shared with two other sets of clients a week. Someday’s go by without seeing another angler on the water.
5. A large priority goes toward fish safety. The utmost respect must be held for the fish. Photos are a great way to preserve your catch. Fish photos are best to be close to the water, and excessive photos and videos are frowned up as fish safety becomes minimized the longer it is out of the water. This ensures that all guests and anglers achieve their expectations with numbers and sizes of fish.
How would you describe the quality of Northern Pike fishing at the Lodge?
Northern Pike fishing at Crooks Lake Lodge is usually an afterthought or last resort if the fishing is very slow. The opportunity to catch pike exist throughout the system and area. Catching Northern Pike occurs often while fishing trout, sometimes even on small mayfly patterns! Large pike up to 20 pound can be caught on the fly using a sinking fly line, and large flashy streamers and top water popping flies. A bite leader is highly recommended for fishing pike at Crooks Lake Lodge. It is not uncommon to regularly catch multiple 35+ inch fish in a week. The pike do not grow excessively large at Crooks, but are great angling and table fare.
What lessons did you learn while fishing there that you are able to apply to the fishing on your home trout waters?
I learned many a lesson guiding at Crooks that made me a better angler, and guide here on my home waters. The biggest lessons I learned were how to properly fish and time mayfly hatches. The timing of mayfly hatches was a huge asset to me back in Nova Scotia as the mayfly hatch on the Eastern Shore is something sought after with local fisherman eager to time their weekend trip properly to hit the hatch perfectly. Many other lessons have been learned, I am sure of it. They will emerge through time and make myself a better angler and guide.