Another trip to Iqalukjuak

Two weekends ago we finally had a chance to go to our possibly favorite fishing spot close to Panniqtuuq, Iqalukjuak. The lake, which is more like a river due to its flowing nature and small size, is located about a two-hour drive from Pang. Big fish, gorgeous scenery, and a great drive.

Last year we had some epic moments on our three-day trip to the location. The smell of white gas vapors in my sleeping bag still makes me smile (with a twitch). This year we were better armed: we had experienced friends with us, Devin and Kendra. Our camping tactics had also changed: now we had a frame tent and a Swedish military wood stove for keeping us warm.

The drive was swift because the trail conditions were awesome. Without qamotiqs, the sleds, it would have been a blast to drive fast but even at our cruising speeds it only took us two hours to get there. That's good for Iqalukjuak (at least on a qallunak index; an inuk would shave off half-an-hour).

The weather was absolutely brilliant all day, temperatures around -20 C or somewhere around there. At this point of the winter we are so well winterized that as long as it's not below -30 C, it doesn't really matter what the temperature is. It all feels about the same.

And of course, our last year's cooking stove blunders (word edited based on public request) and fumy sleeping bags did not quite get resolved this year either: at the lake, we discovered that our chosen camping stove was no longer functional. The fuel hose between the bottle and the stove element had cracked. Luckily we had brought friends who were more adept in outdoor preparedness. They had a fully functional stove.

(By the way, on our next trip we had a working stove but we forgot the dry food. I think it's partly bad luck but mostly lack of appropriate brain capacity. DARN.)

Fishing was great as usual and we caught close to ten large arctic char between the two of us. Delia caught a big one, 13 pounds, that was quite reluctant to come up the whole. The line kept slipping through her hands and she nearly lost the fish. By walking backwards, she was able to pull the fish up.

For fishing, we use large shiny lures that are moved up in yanking motions. The fish do not really bite; instead, they get attracted by the lure, come sniffing, and CHUNK the hooks sink into their probing body parts. It's close to snagging but not entirely (snagging is illegal). Often the hook is in the mouth, but as often it is in the tail.

While Delia's fish was handsome, the best fish prize may go to Devin.We were warming up in the tent when we heard "you've gotta be kidding me" through the tent's wall. He had been opening up some holes and cleaning them with an ice scoop when a six pound char swam up the whole and stared up at him. By using the ice scoop, he quickly scooped up the highly surprised fish that landed on the ice, flopping.

When the fish were not that active anymore and catching them was difficult, Kendra and Devin shot off and up a nearby hill to look for ptarmigans. It's been a really good season for ptarmigan and they are all over the place. Kendra shot four or five birds, a few of which we used for dinner that night. With char, of course.

The mountains and snow conditions around Iqalukjuak are amazing. There is a lot of snow around that area, which makes it perfect for playing with the skidoo or skiing around. This time we didn't bring our telemark skis but we'll definitely bring some in the future. it's the perfect playground. We did some driving around on the skidoo and climbed up a mountain saddle to see the sunset. A person cannot be happier than we were that night.

After a cozy night in our tent we woke up to a fairly cold day. The early morning temperatures floated around -26 C but we were toasty all night after finally having bought decent sleeping bags. On our return day, there was an issue with one of the skidoos but it got resolved by changing the spark plugs - luckily it was nothing worse than that. It makes such a huge difference to have good equipment.

The normally open holes in the ice lower down the river were not open when we went to check them. They will probably open up later this spring. Typically you can see a few dozen large fish hanging around those holes. Good for spearing or even bow-fishing them.

On our return trip, our friends caught another couple ptarmigans while Delia and I lounged on our skidoos and watched them hunt. We kept an eye on future weekend camping spots and spotted a great one on the way back. The higher ground between Pang and Iqalukjuak seems to have a lot of snow and has great potential for skiing. And that's exactly where we camped the following weekend. More on that later!

Spring time. It is so exciting, so full of possibilities. You can do anything you want, anywhere you want. All of our weekends are planned with more outings, and not a single moment will be wasted inside when the weather stays like this.



Great...I,m jealous and happy for you.!