Ekaluk River Program at Lyall's Camp
BEYOND THE NORTHERN HORIZON, ON TOP OF THE WORLD, ALMOST BEYOND IMAGINATION, is a sprawling landscape teeming with lakes and rivers. These unspoiled waters are home to an exquisitely adapted expression of the salmonid family. Salvelinus alpinus, the Arctic char, is prolific around the globe in the upper extremes of the Northern Hemisphere, but nowhere does the species grow in numbers and size as in the Kitikmeot region of the Inuit-sovereign province of Nunavut. And though there are surely as yet undiscovered gems in Canada's Central Arctic, the crown jewel of this boreal wilderness is undoubtedly the little known Iqaluktuuq, or Ekaluk River. Superb fishing for Arctic char can be found throughout this vast region, but the Ekaluk offers an experience unparalleled in destination angling.
The Iqaluktuuq, meaning "place of big fish," originates from Ferguson Lake and empties into the Arctic Ocean in Wellington Bay. It is the principal migration route for Arctic char returning from the ocean to inland spawning grounds in and around the lake.
A medium-sized river with many rapids, runs and pools, the Ekaluk is fishable along its entire length and is ideally suited for flyfishing. Prior to the year 2000, the river was virtually unknown to the global fly- fishing community.
The Ekaluk’s anonymity changed overnight in August of 2001 when B & J Flyfishing Adventures initiated an “invitation only” experimental sport fishery on the river for a small group of intrepid flyfishers. The resounding success of the 2001 season led to the present-day sport fishery and the opening and continued operation* of Camp Ekaluk.
Thirty minutes by float plane from Cambridge Bay and located on a bluff overlooking the river estuary, Camp Ekaluk — now Lyall’s Flyfishing Camp — is a spartan wilderness outpost with primitive facilities consisting of four 12’ x 12’ guest sleeping huts, each accommodating three guests, plus staff and family quarters, a separate mess hall/kitchen tent, hot shower, and outhouse/pit toilet. The camp location offers a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and beyond to the fabled Northwest Passage. From camp, guests are within walking distance of all right bank fishing beats in the few miles between Ferguson Lake and the estuary.
The Ekaluk season is brief, typically encompassing somewhere between two and three weeks, beginning in mid-August, ending in early September, and peaking somewhere in the last week of August. To minimize environmental impact, to safeguard the well-being of the fish stock on the river, and to provide for a pleasant and uncrowded fishing experience, the number of guest anglers per week at Lyall’s is limited to twelve. Fishing is unguided, though instruction and advice is readily available from staff.
*The camp was closed between 2018 and 2021, first due to owner Bill Lyall's health-related issues, then Covid-related restrictions. Subsequent to Mr. Lyall's passing in late 2021, the camp was reopened for the 2022 season. It is now owned and operated by the surviving Lyall family and the guest fishing program is booked and managed jointly by Steelhead Flyfisher and Salmon Junkies under the auspices of Jeff Bright and Steffen Juhl respectively.
marquee photo: Steffen Juhl