I was just at this little lake a while back and the difference is remarkable. Back on the 10th I caught 3 fish and shared the lake with a dozen or so boats and shore anglers. There were people there before me and after me. 4 Fridays later, my catch rate went up but, more importantly, I had the lake to myself.
Once the general fishing season starts, interest in trout peels off.
When’s the best time to go trout fishing in Manitoba?
When walleye (pickerel) season starts. The brief time (6 weeks) that the season is closed is the busiest time for new members to the forum and when I get lots of inquires via email , Facebook and Instagram.
I had to be back in the city to do a mixing editing sessions at my recording studio in Winnipeg so I left unnaturally early (for a professional musician) time in the morning and fished till mid afternoon.
Nine fish to hand, a few LDR’s and some other solid hits. All Rainbow Trout. Some bigger and some recent stockings
The winning fly of the day was my Fuaxhair Leech.
Here’s the photographic and video fun
East of Winnipeg is a nice large pond that is aerated and stocked with trout from the Whiteshell Manitoba Hatchery.
It was a windy day but not so much as to keep me off the water.
I landed 3 fish and had a few more battles including one that shredded my leader.
The winning fleyes were a Rusty (copper) nymph or a Rolled Muddler.
A friend and I were postulating that if muddler based flies were the starting point for new fly fisher men and women, instead of w**ly b*gg*rs that their success rate would go through the roof.
and some pictures of course
Trout season on creeks and rivers in Manitoba opens on April 15th. It might as well be on April first for all the trout you’ll catch.
There are a few place where stream trout exist. They are so few that they are guarded by distance or well kept secrets. The most accessible one is the Whiteshell river as it leaves McDougall Bay (West Hawk Lake) and rolls past the Hatchery. 19 years ago and for a good while after that, this was a gem of a fishery.
Mostly stocked, with a little natural trout reproduction the fish population in here was massive. Along with the trout there was rock bass walleye small mouth bass and pike.
Since then it has fallen on hard times. In no particular order, hatchery stopped/drastically reduced stocking. Hatchery staff, in a direct conflict of interest, would and continue to, raise the dam to keep the lake levels high enough for there friends who own places on the lake.
This has repeatedly killed off, not just the tax payer paid for stocked trout, but has also made the river hell for native fish. To make matters worse, the well meaning but misguide local fly fishers association paid good money for unneeded habitat restoration. In a weird move, the “lunker bunkers” and artificially created dead falls were put in backwards. With the water low levels so low, the tree roots dangling over it look both ridiculous and like an environmental disaster.
Not the first time
The hatchery has been a sore point for me the last few years. They cut back on stocking lakes in the area and the river right beside them while making sure western long drive aerated lakes got theirs. They built a lovely 3 story mansion for seasonal staff to live in, a lovely fish shaped balcony to over look the now lifeless river, paying for float planes/ATV’s/Snow machines to stock back country (inaccessible) lakes, new signs to welcome you to the hatchery and to stop fisherman from cutting through there. All the while claiming they didn’t have gas money to deliver fish and saying they might need to split toilet paper in ½ to wipe their butts.
As I write this, the hatchery is not making fish but is instead buying eyed eggs from the states. That might mean the end of brood stock (big fish put into lakes) This mismanagement might lead to the end of the stocking program in general.
So why the long rant?
To weed out non like minded people.
I still won’t tell you where this fishing spot is!
So with the trout lakes within easy drive of Manitoba’s largest (and arguably only city) in distress, the only trout stream destroyed options for trout are pretty scarce. You have the 3+ hour drive to parkland lakes (that are only good in the spring and fall) and the ponds (that have there own problems of winter and summer kill).
Trading My Fly Fishing Skill for Information
A few time in the last 15 years, someone has want to learn about fly rodding and has been willing to trade for local fishing knowledge. Because of that I have been introduced to secret spots in popular areas. I use them for myself, friends and clients. These places are free of crowds, styrofoam, sunflower seeds, discarded fishing line, etc. If I see anything like that I pack it out.
One such place is ________________ I go there a few times a year and NEVER have to pick up trash. NEVER see another angler and catch small fish. This place is know of in theory but not in fact. It is a place in distress as well. Not from mismanagement or under funding but from beavers and low snow pack
I’ll let the pictures do the talking from my last two trips there.
By so far because I always have plan to tie all year long. This falls apart as I get busy with wedding ceremonies, student recitals, registering families for next year, vacations and, oh yeah, actually going fishing.
Typically I want to get my tying gear out once I am sure I am not going fishing again. But it always seems to be after Christmas when the vise come out.
Doing the math it seems I only have 4 month of tying done a year.
Here is some work and a little talk about the patterns.
These are streamers tied using the ball end from guitar strings as weight. The first is a Black Nosed Dace variant. The variant is because I don’t have any black buck tail. The Second is a Silver Darter (I also did a set of Golden Darters. I hate and have no Mylar piping and so, use dubbing and rib for durability.
Next up is some simple zonker strip flies. The weight is Bass string ball ends and so a ‘Bass’ fly is born.
Next up was finding some hot pink beads and making a Tupp’s Indispensable variant (Who uses ram scrotum hair any more) and something with a lot of red .
While on the topic of flymph style bead heads.
Found a bolt of this fake mohair a few years ago at Micheal’s Crafts and have been giving it away and making my FauxHair Leeches ever since!
Here we have some seasonal decorating stuff made into minnow patterns
Every year for the past decade and a half, we have ventured up to the Fairford River. For the first long bit of it we went up the last Sunday of March. March 31st is the last day of Manitoba’s ‘general season’. Which is code for walleye season. So this event could be on any day of the month in that last week.
The last couple of years the season end has been amended to go to the last day of the public school systems ‘Spring Break’. As an example last year we went on April 1st. That can kinda be appropriate given the variances in weather and the wild swing in fishing.
The reason for going to this particular water is that it is the only open water (most of the time) in the province. While the water gets as cold as the rest of the water ways, it has a steep enough drop to keep from freezing.
The species available in the river are as wide as is available in the province at large (minus the stocked trout). The river is a connection between Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin and, ultimately, Lake Winnipeg.
This year we hit it on the last Sunday of the month which was the last day of the month AND the last day of the Manitoba general season
It was typical temperature wise with it being -2 and not getting much warmer and coupled with a steady north wind but either way, we got right at it.
Truth be told this can be an under attended event. On good years it has just been me and a die hard or two. With fishing there are no guarantees. Some years we go and freeze are butts off catch nothing and some years we are shirt sleeves and catching everything.
In this light, I decided to pre fish it on a nice day prior to the event. Partly to show fence sitters that the fishing is good, partly to guarantee I got out there (just in case there was a snafu).
The Fish are Biting My Flies
Once it was established that Ciscos (locally known as Tulabi) and a whitefish were taking flies, then more people confirmed. So 5 people carpooled to got up to the Fairford River in Central Manitoba.
“Sorry About That” said Facebook
One problem that came to light was the, now tired, “Facebook ruining fishing” effect. I create an event every year and you know how Facebook will let you know about events in your area? Well I posted the pictures from my Thursday on the event to encourage fly fishers to take a chance. And some of the pictures made it very clear where on the river we were.
Clearly the the North side.
Come Sunday those 4 guys I pointed out earlier were there when we got there and held that spot till dinner time.
Now when I got close to them they yelled “ANOTHER WHITEFISH!” every time they landed a cisco I knew they didn’t know squat. Since I added a whitefish picture to the event, I made the leap in logic that these dudes may have known to come to this river, on this day and stand in this spot…or it may have been a wild assed coincidence.
I have no problem sharing water with other fishers even if they snoop our event, hog a spot and keep every fish landed (that’s what the yellow milk crate is for). Nonetheless it still makes me want to keep it secret. The yellow vests makes it seem like they were working in the area and not locals. The locals are easy to spot as they could not give a crap about tulabi or whitefish. They want walleye! So the locals stay away from the dam.
Of course whether they are local or not, whether they snooped the event and hogged the spot, it is still their right to fish. Heck there isn’t a limit on tulabi so all’s fair. Don’t want to come across as one of ‘those’ intolerant fly fishermen. But no sense doing all those other questionable things if you can’t live down to the bait fisher stereo type and leave your garbage.
Anyways I ‘Lockported’ them, moved into their area and then took over the spot when they had enough. That allowed me to finally catch a fish or 2 and eventually my first whitefish ever.
It also allowed anyone else who wanted, to catch some fish. We also had some pretty clean bite offs from what are obviously pike. I guess we could have switched to a bite tippet and got those too.
Anyways, it was a good day over all the guys that came were all troopers and I would fish with any of the again but, next year, I am keeping the invites to our forum, where I can control the privacy. Maybe a “whatsapp” group from the forum.
So technically not Manitoba Fly Fishing but I am a Manitoban and I was fly fishing, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
Every year or every other year we beat the cold, like so many, and go south. Sometimes we do the predictable thing and go to Orlando and theme park it. But most years we go to the 30a area of the Gulf coast portion of Florida.
This is a retiree, snowbird, artsy, all of the above area. So it is quiet. It is also not as warm but always warmer than Winnipeg!
It took me a few trips to figure out the fishing here. My first thought was to target the salt as it was everywhere and easy to access. I also want to get my first salt water fish on any tackle (which I did manage a couple year ago in Bonne Bay N.L.)
Eventually I decided to try for the freshwater fish. The ponds are not as numerous as they are in the Kissimmee area, but they are there. Online research did not reveal much. The 30a, Destin, Sandestin areas are not hot spots for fishing and most of the info was about the bigger lakes where one would need a boat.
But with fly rod in hand I found places that held fish.
The first spot I found was a weird experience for sure. Behind the Destin Commons Mall is two ponds. They have a tonne of Blue gill and the odd bass. What makes it weird is it is right beside the mall with lots shopping traffic. As well, there is a Bass Pro Shop in that mall. So you could go there, buy a licence and go fishing.
All the golf courses have ponds and because the drainage systems are all connected, they all have fish.
I tried Seascape Golf area and got chased off by security. So I accessed the ponds from a mall adjacent to the course and had a grand time. I had it to myself on Christmas Day but it was busy other days. The golfers playing through ranged from the friendly to the offended.
Also in the area is Topsail State park. The fishing there is slow but there are blue gills.
Matter of fact that is what you will always get in these Florida ponds.
We stayed at a different place this year and it was on Little Redfish Lake. I could see fish swirling off a point in that lake. I could see it from my balcony. It happened early morning and late afternoon.
And so readers I caught my first ever Redfish in Redfish lake!
The bass ponds were fished with a 4wt so the Bass gave a good accounting of themselves but the Gills not so much. The blue gill ponds were fished with my 2wt and so all the fish felt nice.
Here are a few of the fish caught over the span of 8 fishing attempts.
If you know the history of this site and our group, you’d know we are not the MFFA. While many re participants in both, we get mistaken for them regularly and our existence is due to some hard times they experienced in the early part of this new century.
So in that spirit, we are pretty connected, I have set many folks to them to join, members participate on our message board, their members are our members and I attend their non-weeknight non Saturday events whenever I can.
The Flies and Flights is an under promoted event as well as quite informal. A bunch of guys meet up at Trans Canada Brewery on Kenaston Road here in Winnipeg and tie flies while drinking flights of craft beer.
I mean when we tie flies we drink at home so it is a natural fit.
Fun time with men and women tying side by side with pizza and beer. The food looked great and the Blue Berry Ale I had was better than any I have had anywhere (and I have been to the east coast where it was invented).
Fall is the time many people anticipate with great and positive feelings. Folks who do not like the heat love the cooler temperatures. School based business like my Music School here in Winnipeg look forward to the returning income. Most salient to this blog is the outdoors people who look to make up for lost time (with fishing and hiking) and hunters looking to get started. Instead we we had a very disappointing turn of events.
After a scorching hot and dry summer with record temperatures what followed was an early snow fall in September, followed by below normal temperatures in October.
I managed to brave the +3 on Friday October 12th. I drove to one of the few eastern watersheds that are stocked with trout.
The first thing I found, other than the snow on the ground, was that the picnic table was removed completely.
This picnic table has been the bane of all the boat and float tubers. The shore folks kept moving it on to the boat launch. I guess the six foot walk from tackle box and bait was too much to deal with. Every time I went I had to move it. If I went on a weekend, it would be back there by the time I got off the water (complete with fishers who had no clue what to do when a boat of float tube came in to get off the water). That is why I tend to go on a Friday
Thinking I had to move it to get started I was pleasantly surprised that not only did I not have to move it, it was gone completely.
Anyhow, the air temp was supposed to climb to 5 (it didn’t) the water temp was around 1 and there was a bit of wind. I managed a few fish on a Bead Head Flymph in Brown. I lasted about 5-6 hours before my numb feet forced me off.
The fish were scattered and only a smooth, long, and relatively fast retrieves seem to elicit any action. Once I went this way, I got a lot of strikes and LDR’s as well a 4 fish (2 x Browns and 2 x Bows) The fish were an OK size. Considering the lake winter killed and was just restocked in spring I thought the fishing was pretty good. While I could complain that the Whiteshell Lakes don’t get this kinda love, I am grateful that ANY bodies of water, east of Winnipeg, gets this sort of squeaky wheel favouritism.
While I haven’t done any fishing since getting back from vacation, I have given some casting classes. These are all private lessons and (if needed) I supply the gear. On the 20th I was teaching a fella who is planning on retiring to the B.C. mountains.
A few days later I gave a fly rod casting lesson to a fella who’s van trip to the mountains was thwarted by engine failure.
I went a little earlier so I could shoot some birds.
The next fella was a guy who hasn’t had much success fishing but thought fly fishing was for him.
With these classes I use 6wt rods (which I feel are a good 1st outfit for Manitoba Waters) a real leader and real flies (with the points off so no one gets a hook in them)
All of these folks couldn’t cast even a little but by the end of the hour they had the skills that could get them fish!
I had been fishing since I got back from my trip to Newfoundland (where I fished a lot!). One because I was quite busy with gigs (playing music) two, we had some brutally hot weather and three, I was giving my music school a bit of a make-over.
But this date was booked way back and I was kinda needing to get back out there.
Because it was the Sunday of the last long weekend of the summer I could not take him to all my spots. Luckily I have a few spots that are less known.
We caught trout, pike and perch and missed out on bass which are pretty likely and walleye that are almost impossible this time of year for wading fishers.
The client was from Italy and marveled at all our wild spaces and so much open areas. Italy has almost twice the population of Canada but could fit comfortably inside our province.
Ironically, we happen to be planning a family vacation to Italy next year and my client this day has offered not only tourist advice, but to set up some fishing opportunities!
Funny how things work out.