Where the “little trout” aren’t little

 - September 17, 2007, 9:20 AM

You’ll find brook trout in countless alder-lined beaver bogs and tumbling canopy-forest brooks along the spine of the Appalachians, throughout the New England backwoods and over to Michigan’s sandy upper peninsula. All of them are delicate and tiny.

But there’s a special place in southern Labrador where specimens of Salvelinus fontinalis, “the little trout of the springs,” grow to proportions so extraordinary that you’ll do a double take. Their vibrant black-and-ivory-striped fins and charcoal-edged orange bellies are distinctive.

The place is called Minipi. It’s an extensive network of shallow headwater lakes and small rivers flowing north toward the immense Churchill River through a vast wilderness carpeted by peat and reindeer moss that looks from the air like pale green snow. The undulating carpet is broken by sandy balds, blueberry and partridgeberry bushes and stands of skinny black spruce trees.

Anglers first glimpsed this wild trout paradise when pioneering bush-plane pilot Lee Wulff brought Curt Gowdy and a film crew from ABC-TV’s American Sportsman here during the 1960s. Wulff made them promise they wouldn’t reveal the location because he wisely feared that Newfoundland’s lax, non-protective fishing regulations would doom the population to annihilation if word got out. Only after the government implemented a strict catch-and-release policy could the whereabouts of the fabulous fishery be revealed.

Four decades later, you can fly from Goose Bay to one of four fly-fishing camps in the Minipi watershed in a classic twin-engine De Havilland Otter floatplane, roaring over a slim slice of the nearly 200,000 square miles the king of Portugal gave in 1498 to João Fernandes Lavrador, the slave trader who “discovered” coastline the Norse had centuries earlier called Markland–land of forests. Those magnificent brook trout are waiting for you.


Minipi Camps
P.O. Box 340, Station B
Happy Valley, Goose Bay
Labrador, Newfoundland
Canada A0P 1E0
(877) 266-7377


Goose Bay, Labrador (CYYR)
Longest runway: 11,046 ft
FBOs: Irving Aviation,
(709) 896-9090;
Woodward Aviation,
(800) 563-5202