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It’s not possible to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Alaska or Canada unless you go there only once. Even those who visit the Far North time and again to hunt or fish return home from each trip convinced that they have just taken part in an adventure that can never be topped. And the next time, they top it.

Remote and vast, the hinterlands of our 49th state, Alaska, and our northern neighbor, Canada, remain the last great frontiers for hunting and fishing in North America. Here are some possibilities that we came across in our recent travels. They aren’t cheap, and getting there may cost a bit more than you’re used to paying. Still, considering that your success rate is apt to be 100 percent or somewhere close to it, your trek north will seem like a bargain.

** Alaska**

Kodiak Combos
By Scott Bowen

The sockeye salmon on the end of my line was running like a torpedo down the river, back the way he had come. He went under a fallen tree and across a deep run and headed for a rocky bend called “Bedsprings.” The name stuck in my mind as I ran after the fish and then I remembered why: Somebody had said they had seen a bear at Bedsprings.

The bear, a young, spooky male, wasn’t there, but I felt his lingering presence when I brought the sockeye onto the black, wet rocks. As I bent to the fish, I looked up at the wall of vegetation?pure jungle?and realized that about six big bears might be about 50 feet away and I wouldn’t be able to see them. Honestly, it was a bit of a rush.

I was fishing on the Saltery Creek, which runs from Saltery Lake into Ungak Bay, in the northeastern portion of Kodiak Island, Alaska. It’s an easy wade-and-cast situation and the river is not so wide that fly-casters need much room to load up the rod. King, sockeye, pink, chum and silver salmon all parade up the Saltery River throughout summer and fall and head for the lake. The clarity of the water

accommodates sight-casting to individual fish. I caught a number of them that way?one going almost 11 pounds, which is a good size for a sockeye buck. Rainbow trout are abundant in the river and steelhead swim up in October. Small Dolly Vardens also abound in the running water and grow to good size in the nearby lake. Forays into Ungak Bay and beyond can bring big cod and kings and door-sized halibut.

In summer on this part of the island, salmon is the main game. But in fall a super cast-and-blast trip can be arranged for silver salmon, steelhead and blacktail deer. The blacktail season usually starts the first week in August, which is when I was there, but it’s a tough business when the deer are up above the mosquito line in dense vegetation. It calls for a lot of glassing and waiting on very rugged ridges, positioning yourself above corridors that the blacktail follow. It gets easier later in fall as the vegetation dies off and the deer come down off the ridges in search of food. Most Alaskans hunt late in the season when they take boats along the bay and search out the coves for deer that come down on the beach to browse above the tideline.

Bear hunting starts October 25 and runs through November. The brownies move through the river valley in good numbers. Bear hunting around the camp where I stayed, Saltery Lake Lodge, is by predrawn permit only, but just a half-mile down the road toward Kodiak, you can go bear hunting with a registration permit.

Contact: Saltery Lake Lodge, 1516 Larch St., Kodiak, AK 99615, 800-770-5037; www.salterylake.com.

Same-Day Fishing on the Kenai
By Ed Scheff

It wasn’t all that long ago that traveling to Alaska from the East Coast was an overland commitment measured in days. Today, given the favorable time-zone change and some modest luck with connectinglights, it’s possible to hail an airport-bound cab in New York City at dawn and before sunset hold a wriggling char or salmon fresh from the glacial wash of Alaska’s Kenai River. Travel from Anchorage to Kenai is either by air or by car (a 150-mile scenic ride).

A couple of summers ago I experienced that minor miracle, traveling from the Big Apple to the bow of outfitter Tim Berg’s 20-foot aluminum Predator in one day. Most of the king salmon had already moved on when I hit the lower Kenai in late August, but there were still a few stragglers among the waves of silver salmon hopscotching upriver. Bowing to airborne silvers at boatside and chasing the occasional king downstream was a thrill on medium-weight baitcasting tackle, but the most exhilarating fishing experience occurred on the last full day in Berg’s care. That was when we ventured south to Seward for a day-trip out of Resurrection Bay, famed for its spectacular surroundings.

The fishing was fabulous. On our third drift, with several lingcod in the boat, a 35-pound halibut surprised me when it finally surfaced boatside after a 15-minute fight. And then another did the same. And then salmon started hitting baits 30 feet off bottom?all on the same rigs. It was a mixed-bag fishing experience unlike anything I’d ever seen. The final tally for the day was 32 silver salmon, six lingcod up to 50 pounds (with as many thrown back), six halibut in the 30- to 40-pound range, several sea bass and one golden-eye snapper. Whew! Contact: Tim Berg’s Alaskan Fishing Adventures, 800- 548-3474; E-mail: tim@alaskanfishing.com; Web site: www.alaskanfishing.com.

** Ontario**

The Best of Lake and Stream
By Jerry Gibbs

Ontario is a natural draw for U.S. anglers, especially those from the Midwest. Opportunities are plentiful: A fisherman can choose from among big-ticket lodges, multi-plan lodges or wilderness adventure trips.

One of my favorite operations is Evergreen Lodge on Eagle Lake, northeast of Lake of the Woods. Owners Pat and Mal Tygesson offer a variety of plans with or without meals. Boats also are available there. Summer is prime time for muskies, and Eagle Lake offers some of the best fishing for them on standard lures. Late summer into early fall, you’ll find fat northern pike moving shallow and smallmouth bass sliding toward wintering reefs. If I just wanted to glut out on walleyes, Eagle Lake would be my pick. Any method seems to work, from jigging to trolling in the evening over reefs. The walleye population is terrific, mainly because of a slot limit and a conservation (catch-and-release) license option that still allows an angler to take home a few fish.

If you can’t go this year, try next spring, when the walleyes move back into the shallows. The lodge opens in mid-May. Get there the first of June and you’ll find smallies in the bays and walleyes in the weeds.

If you’re in the mood for a true wilderness experience with a dash of adventure tossed in, book a run on the Winisk River. The river flows about 180 miles north before dumping into Hudson Bay and you cover about 50 miles one-way from the Ojibway settlement of Webequie. A normal trip involves staying at rustic riverside camps. The fishing is mixed bag: walleyes, pike and big brook trout. Or you can stick to flyfishing tackle and elect to concentrate just on brookies, as I did.

If you go strictly for trout, Bearskin Airlines (800-465-2327) gets you to Webequie, where you meet Ojibway guides who transport you by big freighter canoe to Goose Camp (about four to five hours down the river). This is a long, hard run for the guides and you’re expected to help with chores, including cooking. You’ll stay a couple of nights at Goose, fishing by day, then run to Tashka camp, a premier trout spot at Baskineig Falls, for two more days of fishing. You can tack on extra days if you wish.

I flyfished using a 150-grain shooting head for the swift edge water, but switched to a sinking tip and floating line for more traditional water. Contact: Evergreen Lodge, April 15 through December 1, 807-755-2434; December 2 through April 1, 708-352-3907; evrgrnlg@dryden.net; Winisk River, Elijah Jacob, 807-353-6531; Mocassin Trails, 800-347-4421.

** Manitoba**

Great Lodge and Bears Galore
By Jim Zumbo

Say what you will about the black bears in the Lower 48, but nothing compares to Canada in terms of size and numbers. I’ve made about 15 bear hunts in several provinces there and most have been exceptional.

If I had to pick the one area with the highest concentration of bears and the best chance of success, I’d select southeastern Manitoba and hunt with Bird River Outfitters, owned by Ron Alexander. His headquarters is a 7,000-square-foot log lodge that can accommodate up to 28 people. The lodge is situated on the banks of the Bird River, about 90 miles northeast of Winnipeg. Airport pickup is available.

During spring and fall seasons, you hunt over baits in a region that’s absolutely loaded with black bears. During the peak of the spring hunt (early April through May) Alexander’s operation might have upward of 30 baits out, each checked and replenished by guides every morning. Hunters sit in comfortable tree stands that are permanent, sturdy and accessible by secure ladders. Most shots with firearms are no farther than 30 yards; bowhunter stands are placed 15 to 20 yards from the baits.

I’ve hunted this area of Manitoba a number of times with Ron and can recall only one evening out of more than a dozen when a bear didn’t show. One year, nine hunters from Colorado took six bears the first evening.

My last hunt at Bird River took place in the spring of 2000. The bears cooperated nicely and so did the Remington Copper Solid Sabot slugs employed by the small group of hunters I was with that week. Five bears were taken, and none ran more than 30 yards after being hit.

Bear hunting over bait in this part of the country is a leisurely sport. In fact, you can sleep until noon at the lodge or catch up on your reading. The guides put hunters on stands late in the afternoon, which allows guests the morning to enjoy the scenery or other endeavors. If you like to fish, it’s possible to catch walleyes and northern pike off the dock. Or you can hook up with a guide and sample what other stretches of the Bird River have to offer.

The fall bear season runs from early August into October. Manitoba also is one of the best places in North America to hunt ruffed grout spot at Baskineig Falls, for two more days of fishing. You can tack on extra days if you wish.

I flyfished using a 150-grain shooting head for the swift edge water, but switched to a sinking tip and floating line for more traditional water. Contact: Evergreen Lodge, April 15 through December 1, 807-755-2434; December 2 through April 1, 708-352-3907; evrgrnlg@dryden.net; Winisk River, Elijah Jacob, 807-353-6531; Mocassin Trails, 800-347-4421.

** Manitoba**

Great Lodge and Bears Galore
By Jim Zumbo

Say what you will about the black bears in the Lower 48, but nothing compares to Canada in terms of size and numbers. I’ve made about 15 bear hunts in several provinces there and most have been exceptional.

If I had to pick the one area with the highest concentration of bears and the best chance of success, I’d select southeastern Manitoba and hunt with Bird River Outfitters, owned by Ron Alexander. His headquarters is a 7,000-square-foot log lodge that can accommodate up to 28 people. The lodge is situated on the banks of the Bird River, about 90 miles northeast of Winnipeg. Airport pickup is available.

During spring and fall seasons, you hunt over baits in a region that’s absolutely loaded with black bears. During the peak of the spring hunt (early April through May) Alexander’s operation might have upward of 30 baits out, each checked and replenished by guides every morning. Hunters sit in comfortable tree stands that are permanent, sturdy and accessible by secure ladders. Most shots with firearms are no farther than 30 yards; bowhunter stands are placed 15 to 20 yards from the baits.

I’ve hunted this area of Manitoba a number of times with Ron and can recall only one evening out of more than a dozen when a bear didn’t show. One year, nine hunters from Colorado took six bears the first evening.

My last hunt at Bird River took place in the spring of 2000. The bears cooperated nicely and so did the Remington Copper Solid Sabot slugs employed by the small group of hunters I was with that week. Five bears were taken, and none ran more than 30 yards after being hit.

Bear hunting over bait in this part of the country is a leisurely sport. In fact, you can sleep until noon at the lodge or catch up on your reading. The guides put hunters on stands late in the afternoon, which allows guests the morning to enjoy the scenery or other endeavors. If you like to fish, it’s possible to catch walleyes and northern pike off the dock. Or you can hook up with a guide and sample what other stretches of the Bird River have to offer.

The fall bear season runs from early August into October. Manitoba also is one of the best places in North America to hunt ruffed g

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