Fly Angling in the Labrador Wilderness
The Woods River system is a remarkable wilderness resource.
It’s vast: over 100 miles of rapids, lakes and feeder streams from the headwaters to “Final Rapids” where it empties into the Smallwood Reservoir.
It’s wild: Bald eagles, black bears, ospreys, mink and otter, caribou and big fish. The only people you’ll see are your guide, your fishing buddy and your reflection in the clear water.
It’s alive: Caddis flies, May flies, stoneflies, and the various stages thereof; Dace, darters, sculpins and chubs. And the predators: brook trout, northern pike, and lake trout.
Brook Trout (speckled trout; squaretails; Labrador Reds) At Three Rivers Lodge, the brookies are river fish; strong, classically-proportioned and beautifully colored throughout the season. They have endurance and fight with conviction throwing every punch in the fight book. The brook trout are true trophies, averaging 3 to 5 pounds and running up to at least 10 pounds with 6 and 7 pounders abundant, with the occasional 8# and 9# big boys.
Northern Pike inhabit the lakes, ponds and eddies in the rivers. They strike savagely like alligators, which they are commonly called. The absolute top of the food chain, pike average 8 to 10 pounds and we’ve landed 25 pounders over four feet in length.
Lake Trout dwell in the dark holes of the lakes and will occasionally surprise you by inhaling your fly in the deep holes of the larger rapids. In early and late season, they often are found cruising the shallow streams and coves. Lakers have an exceptionally long life span and get just as big as they want!
Fly Fishing, Catch and Release, Barbless Hooks
The camps are some 150 miles from Labrador City and accessible by float plane only. Our primary quarry is trophy brook trout. We fly fish for these remarkable squaretails with barbless flies and strong leaders. To insure the vitality of thousands of years of nature’s genetic evolution, we release all large speckles to swim, spawn and keep Labrador’s unique brook trout population healthy and pure. (With a picture and measurements, exact carved mounts are available for the wall.) Giant pike and lakers inhabit the many lakes and wide reaches along the watershed and provide extraordinary fly-fishing as well. (Spin fishing with single, barbless lures is allowed only on the lakes for pike and lakers).
Rivers, Streams, and Remote Ponds:
The Woods River proper is a fast flowing, freestone river broken frequently by lakes, ponds and broad reaches. Its numerous sets of rapids vary in length from 100 yards to almost a mile. It is in these rapids that brook trout concentrate on feeding stations throughout the season. The rapids offer a diversity of haunts and holding water; plunge pools, riffles, large boulders, creases and willow-lined undercut banks – a river fisher’s paradise. And the feeder streams are too numerous to count. Some provide sanctuary for the small fries; but many hold the big boys.
Three main feeder rivers, Rick’s Run, Eagle river and Victoria River, form the headwaters of the Woods. Each of these flows wanders some 20 or 30 miles out of the spruce and tamarack forests and offers spectacular scenery and holding water. Only a very small percentage of these waters have been fished. Between camp and Final Rapids, PJ’s River, Bourbon Brook and, scores of other unnamed feeder streams provide our guests the continuing opportunity to explore new, unfished waters for trophy trout.
Wilderness ponds offer solitude and quiet stillwater fishing to cruisers. And in the three main lakes, Crossroads, Vezina and Knox, mighty northerns and lakers sulk in the coves and springholes.
Fly fishing at Three Rivers Lodge begins with your guide. A. K. Best wrote that our manager and head guide, Kev Barry, "...is one of the most knowledgeable outdoorsman I have ever met.” And Kev’s staff guides are handpicked, affable and engaging professionals who have dedicated their lives to the wilderness. Each guide is highly proficient in handling small boats in varied waters and is licensed to do so by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. And each guide is re-trained and current in First Aid and in CPR as required by the Province. Kev and his guides are “Newfies”, self-reliant outdoorsmen, and their laughter, stories and friendship on the water and around the dining table will be the highlight of your visit.
We have a DeHavilland Beaver float plane in camp and use it every day to move our guests about our expansive river system. Season by season, we use the Beaver to discover new remote waters and fishing opportunities for our guests. The floatplane has made these excursions a matter of minutes rather than hours or days. Two fly outs per guest are included in your week to destinations such as our Fifth Rapids Outpost Camp, the headwater rivers for treks into the deep wilderness, and to the lower river where the big fish migrate out of the Smallwood.
Water craft are our other primary means for accessing the many waters. We have a small fleet of Lund “Alaskans” and square-sterned canoes powered by Honda four-stroke outboards. Each is well maintained and equipped with all safety items. We also have smaller canoes cached in remote locations for backcountry trekking.
The Fifth Rapids Camp is our primary outpost camp. Located some thirty or so miles down-river from main camp, this full-amenity cabin “opens up” much of our middle river area to fishing. It is a classic fishing cabin perched on an esker above and between two incredibly productive sets of rapids, “Big 5th” and “Little 5th”. Only a short hop down in the Beaver, all of our guests spend a most memorable night or two at 5th Rapids Camp exploring the rapids and streams of the middle river area.
We have additional tent-type outpost camps in several wilderness areas as well for adventurous souls who enjoy the serenity of the deeper wilds. A few years back, Jim, an accomplished fly fisher from Maine, spent several nights on the headwaters of Rick’s Run. After his first day of angling a virgin rapids back in the hills, he proclaimed he had “ . . . caught more trophy brookies in a day than any human has a right to catch in a lifetime.”
“Have it Your Way”
At Three Rivers Lodge, each guest can create a customized week of fly-fishing. We have all the tools – extensive waters, float plane, a wide range of watercraft, outpost camps, boondocks, and most importantly, the desire to recognize your angling dreams and the imagination and experience to guide you to them.
Arctic Charr and Land-locked Salmon:
Annually, our fly-outs for Land-locked Salmon and Arctic Charr are favorites among our returning guests, in large part due to the spectacular environs where these species thrive. Though salmon and charr are not indigenous to our river system, we run several fly-outs each week for these fighters into totally untouched waters deep in the wilderness. These amazing angling opportunities are mostly within an hour’s flight of camp. Jump on the float-plane and go exploring!
We work with several artist woodcarvers who, with a picture and measurements of the length and girth of your fish, can produce a trophy which equals or exceeds the finest skin mount.