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Lake Athabasca is a 1,939,776-acre lake with a maximum depth of 410 feet making it the largest and deepest lake in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Approximately 30% of the lake lies within Alberta and the remainder is located in Saskatchewan. Lake Athabasca is a fly-in lake meaning the only way to get there is by plane. Known for its superb fresh water fishing, this remote Canadian lake offers anglers an ultimate fishing vacation getaway.
Lake Athabasca has consistently produced record setting trophy fish for many of the species indigenous to the lakes of northern Canada. The largest recorded lake trout ever caught at 102 pounds was landed by commercial fishermen in 1961. The Canadian record for a 42 pound northern pike came from the crystal clear waters of Lake Athabasca. Other sport fish in the lake include walleye, lake whitefish and arctic grayling. Local fishing guides will be more than happy to take you out on the lake to places where 60 pound trout are common and northern pike often exceed 50 inches. Arctic grayling, though small compared to trout and pike, are mighty fighters and a real thrill to catch. You can also try your hand at fly-fishing from the main shore, which encircles the lake for 1,181 miles, or the shore of several small islands on the lake.
Although fishing is Lake Athabasca's main attraction, sand dunes on the south shore also draw much attention. Designated a Provincial Wilderness Park in 1992, the Athabasca Sand Dunes run for about 60 miles reaching as high as 100 feet in some areas. The sand dunes are the most northerly major sand field in the world. You will need a boat to visit the sand dunes and camping in designated areas is allowed. Be sure to notice the plants that grow up through the sand as you will not see them anywhere else in the world.
Spending some time on Lake Athabasca will allow you to discover the magnificent beauty of the unspoiled wilderness of the area encompassing a pristine lake so large that the opposite shoreline cannot be seen. There are a few lodges and vacation rentals on Lake Athabasca and two small towns - Fort Chipewyan and Uranium City. Fort Chipewyan is a small community that sits on Lake Athabasca in the northeast corner of Alberta. While only accessible by plane or winter ice roads, tourism plays a key role in the economy, especially in the summer months. The town is also responsible for a wild bison herd as part of Wood Buffalo National Park.
Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northwestern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison. It is also the only known nesting site of whooping cranes. The park headquarters is located in Fort Smith, Alberta, with a smaller satellite office in Fort Chipewyan. The park is located directly north of the Lake Athabasca Sands Dunes but access from Lake Athabasca is best by plane. Camping, hiking, swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, and shoeing are all allowed in the park.
Uranium and gold mining along the northern shore of Lake Athabasca resulted in the birth of Uranium City, Saskatchewan, which was home to the mine workers and their families. When the last mines closed in the 1980s, most of the people left the area and the population dropped from a high of 4,500 people to the present population of 120. Living in isolation, all goods and services are provided by air, winter roads and summer barging services. The town does have a certified airport with a gravel runway operated by the Saskatchewan Government Department of Highways & Transportation. The airport is one of the few employers left in the community.
Lake Athabasca has something for everyone. Anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking a vacation off the beaten path will thoroughly enjoy the wide array of breathtaking scenes and points of interests that can only add to a truly unforgettable sport fishing experience.
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