Lake Dubawnt, Canada: A Large, Secluded Lake

Dubawnt Lake is located 350 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, in the Kivalliq region, in Canada’s largest territory, Nunavut. It is one of the most secluded lakes in the World, and is frozen 10 months every year.

Dubawnt Lake Stats

Lake NameDubawnt Lake
Surface area3583.210
Average depth25.5
Lake typeNatural freshwater lake
Catchment area54612.50
InflowsDubawnt River
OutflowsDubawnt River
IslandsSnow Island
Shore length2557.78
Residence time3634.0
Average discharge290.868
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Geography and Vegetation

The province of Nunavut is the least populated area in Canada. Its name means “our land” in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people – the first indigenous community of America to achieve self-government.

The lake’s main in- and outflow is the Dubawnt River flowing North, which is 543 miles long and begins at Wholdaia Lake. Dubawnt is the 16th largest lake in North America. It is one of the most pristine and isolated lakes on the planet.

The body of freshwater has irregular shorelines, a number of islands and is mainly surrounded by glacial slopes and till. The largest wildlife refuge in Canada, Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the Northwestern shores of the lake. If you are looking for a truly unique wildlife experience, this Sanctuary is the perfect choice. It seems like you’ve travelled back in time to witness the untouched wilderness without any humans or settlements around for thousands of miles.

The vegetation here is low arctic tundra featuring heath and lichens.

Wildlife and Fly-Fishing

Because of its’ proximity to the natural reserve, there are plenty of animals located on the shores of Dubawnt, including grizzly bears, muskoxen, foxes, wolves and plenty birds of prey. The lake is situated right in the middle of the migration path of the Quamanirjuaq Caribou, more than 500,000 of them passing here each year.

Dubawnt Lake is also a haven for fly-fishers, but to protect the environment, only trophy fishing is allowed, which means one has to release the fish after it has been caught. In order to spare the catches of major injuries, only small hooks are allowed to minimize the impact on the fish. The reservoir is especially famous for huge, 30-40 pound trout. Lake Whitefish, round whitefish and arctic grayling can also be caught here.

Getting here can be quite difficult, since there are no good roads on the premises. One can only reach it by flying in via airplane and then taking a snowmobile on land.

There are only a few outposts set up on the lakeshore, which are only open for 6-8 weeks each year, when the ice on the lake is melted. In these outposts one can find lodging, satellite phones, supply boats and meals. Usually only 50 fishermen visit the lake, so fishing on Dubawnt is quite an unforgettable and unique experience.

History and Etnography

The lake was first discovered in 1770 by Samuel Hearne, but didn’t actually get much attention until Joseph Tyrrell explored it in 1893. The shoreline was home to the Ilhamiut and Caribou Inuit communities in the past.

Even though the lake is located at the meeting point of two major native communities, the Chipewyan and Inuit peoples, there are no permanent settlements in the area.

Dubawnt Lake Map