The Wild of Grizzly Creek, the Yukon

South Toobally Lake

South Toobally Lake in the morning

The Yukon is known for its history, legends, characters and incredible landscapes. It is also known as a place where outdoor dreams and adventures are realized. If you are an angler looking for some incredible fishing in the heart of the Yukon wilderness, it would be hard to beat what is offered at Skanse’s Grizzly Creek Lodge about 145 km northeast of Watson Lake in the southeast Yukon. That is where my wife Betty and I headed last June after attending the annual Outdoor Writers of Canada conference, which was held at Whitehorse in 2010.

Toobally Lakes, Yukon

Toobally Lakes from the air

As I described in my  article in the March Alberta Outdoorsmen, wilderness immersion is what the lodge is all about. Located on both upper and lower Toobally Lakes, the lodge can only be reached by float plane. The flight is spectacular but it’s only the appetizer for what is to come.

James O'Farrell, south Toobally Lake

Guide James O’Farrell taking us to a fishing spot.

The lodge offers seven day packages which include stays at both lakes where fishing for trophy lake trout and northern pike is excellent, the wildlife viewing spectacular and the adventure continuous. However, for me the jewel of our trip was the spectacular Arctic grayling fishing. I have fished grayling in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan and have always enjoyed their eagerness to come to a fly and their beauty when freshly caught. But our experience fly-fishing these beauties in the Smith River was an experience without comparison.

The Smith River feeds and drains both lakes and provides excellent habitat for grayling, with deep holes and long flat stretches of water washed gravel beds, where insects rise and grayling come to feed. The super clear water allows you to see deep into the holes and watch the fish rise to your fly. The following pictures show a sequence of one prized grayling taking a fly (elk-hair caddis) and running with it, putting up a good fight and then posed for a nice picture before being released back into the water.

Arctic Grayling-1

A big grayling takes the fly and dives deep back into the hole.

Arctic Grayling-2

After a vigorous fight, the fish comes to the surface to tail dance.

Arctic Grayling-3

James removing the fly from the grayling’s mouth

Arctic Grayling-4

The landed fish just prior to release.

Cow moose

A cow moose along the Smith River.

Fishing is not the only attraction at this lodge. As we moved from lake to river to lake again, we often saw moose grazing along the shore. Many were cows with calves. At one point, our guide James O’Farrell told us the cow looked nervous, perhaps indicating that a grizzly was in the area. Grizzly bears are chief predators of moose calves, especially at this time of year. We never saw a bear but we certainly took precautions to ensure we were safe.

On a boat trip Betty and I took on upper Toobally Lake, we found a pair of Trumpeter Swans and their cygnets. We were careful not to disturb them, as they represented to us just another example of how wild this country is.

Trumpeter Swans

A pair of trumpeter swans and their cygnets, on upper Toobally Lake

Grizzly Creek is indeed a special place for those who are looking for something unique in either their fishing or wilderness experiences. Their slogan, “Come as Clients, leave as Friends” is very true, and you will be treated to much Yukon legend and lore, as well as some of the best hospitality found anywhere. For more information, check out the Grizzly Creek web site

Interested in reading an award-winning outdoor adventure novel? Check out  The Search for Grizzly One and Dog Runner.

About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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1 Response to The Wild of Grizzly Creek, the Yukon

  1. W. R. Woolf says:

    It must have been quite the experience.
    And beautiful pictures, they make me want to go there 🙂

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