Stories

Somerset Island Arctic Heli Adventure

Ken Morrish January 04, 2023

Embark across Somerset Island and Prince of Whales to fly fish for migratory sea-run Arctic char in one of the most remote regions of the world.

Led by the team at Weber Arctic, this adventure focuses on the heart of the Northwest Passage - lakes and rivers where few have ever set foot, and arctic wildlife such as polar bears, beluga whales and muskoxen call the region home.

In early July, as lakes melt and rivers open into the arctic ocean, migratory arctic char travel from their spawning grounds to the arctic ocean to feed for the summer. Travelling by helicopter, on foot and all-terrain vehicles, our team brings you to a collection of lakes and rivers on the central Northwest Passage to witness and fish this unique spectacle.

Eight hundred kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is your basecamp as you set out to explore the Northwest Passage and fish some of the best migratory arctic char routes on the globe.

 

Available Dates:

  • June 29 – July 8, 2023: 4 spots
  • July 1 – July 9, 2024: 4 spots

 

Rate: CAD$24,500 per person for a 10 day/ 9 night package based on single occupancy

2023 Itinerary:

All adventures to Arctic Watch include accommodation in Yellowknife the nights before and after at the Explorer Hotel. Guests arrive at Yellowknife the day before the private charter departs for Arctic Watch.

  • June 29, 2023: Fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories and spend the night at the Explorer Hotel.

  • June 30, 2023: After breakfast, depart Yellowknife on a private charter for the 3-hour flight to Arctic Watch. Guests will land in the Arctic later that afternoon. After an introduction to the lodge and the surrounding landscape by the Arctic Watch team, guests will have time to settle into their cabins. Before dinner is served, a short hike up to the local mountain is offered, breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and ice formations on the Arctic Ocean. Connect with our guides for an evening gear check, rod preparation and helicopter safety briefing. 

  • July 1, 2023: Today we start to target sea run arctic char on the eastern half of Somerset Island - leaving the lodge by helicopter we head down the coastline of the Northwest Passage to two small lakes with short rivers that spill into the Arctic Ocean. These rivers are "short runs", or short in distance and perfect migration paths. Sea run Arctic char will overwinter in lakes and migrate to the ocean to feed for the summer, returning in the fall. The "spring" migration is what we are targeting - fish emerge from a winter of hibernation, are hungry and need to feed. Short runs mean more concentrated sight fishing opportunities. Casting in the rivers, fishing at the confluence of fresh and salt water, we spend the day in this area of the Northwest Passage.  Spring in the Arctic is also when the floe edge has formed around Somerset Island - a natural causeway of ice that connects between land an ocean, polar bears roam the Arctic ice eagerly hunting for seals. Conditions permitting, we'll endeavor to track polar bears. 

  • July 2, 2023: After breakfast and a visit to the espresso bar, we head along the north coast of Somerset towards the western edge of the island. Continuing our hunt for lakes with short runs, we visit one lake in particular that has a river only a few hundred meters long. The quick migration offers sea run Arctic char an easy migration path to the ocean for the summer. The coastline in this area was inhabited by the Thule culture (1000AD). The coastline has several stunning archeological sites including remains of tent rings, stone foundations of homes, tunnels, kayak cradles and more. Spend the morning fishing and the afternoon exploring the preserved archeological sites.

  • July 3, 2023: After two big days exploring lakes and rivers with a helicopter assist, we switch gear and head out to explore the floe edge on foot. A natural causeway for wildlife created by ice breaking on the Northwest Passage and solid ice remaining around the shorelines, this area draws migratory birdlife and arctic mammals (including beluga whales) who are waiting for the sea ice to fully break before entering Cunningham Inlet. Spend the day on the pack ice tracking wildlife, summiting pressure ridges and exploring the completely alien landscape. After dinner, an informal lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions - highlighting his historic (and unrepeated) 1995 unassisted journey - will be offered.

  • July 4, 2023: Today we head to Prince of Whales. The island west of Arctic Watch on the Northwest Passage offers another series of small lakes with short river migratory runs for Arctic char. Spend the day exploring the region on foot and Heli-assist. After dinner, an informal lecture by Nansen Weber on wildlife photography will be offered. Nansen has spent the past 20 years photographing wildlife in the Canadian Arctic including leading major motion pictures for organizations such as Netflix, Nat Geo and BBC. 

  • July 5, 2023: Today we head south. Leaving Arctic Watch and flying towards the southern quadrant of Somerset Island, we visit and area that is home to one of the largest char migrations in the Canadian Arctic. The sea run Arctic char that inhabit this area will migrate into the ocean to feed on Arctic cod and krill. A fast flowing river with shallow eddies offers sight fishing in and around the mouth of the ocean. The region also draws polar bears, birdlife, arctic foxes and at times - arctic wolves. 

  • July 6, 2023: Travel by ATV across the Cunningham River delta, to Muskox Ridge. This scenic trail provides spectacular views of the area and is a great vantage point from which to see muskoxen and arctic foxes. From the high ridge, hike down into one of the many depressions where muskoxen often spend the summer months foraging. After a picnic lunch at Inukshuk Lake, fishing gear will be supplied to catch-and-release arctic char. Head back to the lodge along the River Trail keeping an eye out for birds such as snowy owls, jaegers, rough-legged hawks and more. After dinner, an informal lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions - highlighting his historic (and unrepeated) 1995 unassisted journey -will be offered. A human powered option is also offered for guests - use electric bikes to explore the tundra with your guide.

  • July 7, 2023: By now, guests are familiar with the area, and can opt to do an activity that they missed during the week or would like to repeat. There’s lots of time before the flight departs in the late afternoon. Upon arriving in Yellowknife you will spend the night at the Explorer Hotel before your return flight home.

  • July 8, 2023: Depart Yellowknife for the return flight home.

 

In the wild and unpredictable Arctic, the weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. Therefore, all of our itineraries are marked as ‘suggested’. Daily excursions are planned based on guest desires, abilities and interests as well as daily wildlife and weather conditions.

Let's Get You Ready to Travel to the Arctic

Contact Ken Morrish for more information