I was going to have a whole video rich post of fly fishing in my favourite province from my new GoPro 10 I did but the default settings were incompatible with any normal persons computer. (HVEC) So, while I could convert them eventually, I could not do it at the end of the day. So I ended up with too many hours of footage. A year later I have dealt with less than a ¼ of it. So I’ll just tell you.
You can do a lot of fishing in Newfoundland without a guide.
Yes. Now the rules change yearly so you do have to be aware but one thing to never do is ask a local. They don’t need a guide they don’t need a trout license so they don’t know more than what affects them directly. Even many CO are not clear on the rules for CFA (Come From Away)
Trout, Trout and Trout
First off, there is a tonne of salmon free trout water all over the province. In the town of St. John’s there are 3-4 viable trout streams. All around the province there is plenty of trout water. You do have to be careful that a random stream is not a tributary of a scheduled salmon river.
Another worry free option is the salt. All rivers are open to anyone at the mouth. Sea trout are in many if not most. As in all things fishing, some places are better than others. There is also the option of fishing the salt from shore. On year I was in Bonne Bay and caught mackerel on a fly from the dock.
That is the main attraction for many. A guide is a great idea and gets you on desirable water. In my investigations, I have found that guides are either attached to lodges or just not that internet savvy. That may have change but looking up guides, in a jurisdiction that requires guides, provides shockingly few results.
Within sight of a highway bridge.
The actual rule is 800 meters of a provincial highway. That usually means a bridge but can mean a highway parallel to a river. That gives you over a kilometer and a half of river. Maybe not the best water, but the locals don’t fish it so you might have it to yourself and you don’t need a guide. These areas are not marked so you have to know how far you are.
Gros Morne National Park
You need a Gros Morne salmon license as well as a provincial salmon license but you can fish 100% of the salmon rivers in the park without a guide (not Terra Nova National Park for some reason) Lomond is awe some but a bit of a hike but Deer Arm is right by the road.
Some Things To Consider
Non residents need a trout license and to cover your @$$ (even if you do not target salmon) you should get a Non resident salmon license.
I am only fly fishing so I didn’t have to figure if it was fly only or spin allowed water. barbless is a habit with me so that wasn’t an issue either.
And Some pictures.
NFL is missing out on a great tourism idea
I really feel the wide variety of trout rivers and stream are a missed opportunity for Newfoundland tourism. They could still guard the salmon stocks (or guard them harder) while promoting the trout fishing for tourists not wanting a guide. Imagine catching brown trout on the fly inside the city limits! Locals could rent gear or even low cost guiding.
Time for our semi annual trip the Wood Falls Section of the Manigotagan River 200km north east of Winnipeg Manitoba.
Each year we go open minded and so far it has given something different each time.
Once known as White Bass hot spot the last few times we have been there has been Smallmouth Bass Northern Pike and Shorthead Redhorse Suckers.
This trip we were into bass, lots of bass and good size. They were females fresh from leaving the males on the beds protecting fry. So they were hungry!
A few bite off and one pike landed.
I was using a 6wt Switch rod and my partner was using a 7wt. Fly of the day was the Black over white Clouser. Other flies worked but not as well.
Also included is this video I shot between fish. A mix of drone footage, hand held and still photos.
With the new regs in place, giving us year round fishing (except for the Holy Walleye), the need to scream 2½ hours north to the only fly rod friendly water in the province, before seasons end, is gone.
It was a great run. 20 years of getting some fishing in before the 6 week closure.
We had good years, brutal years and everything in between. The thought of going another 6 weeks after a long winter propelled us northward willing to brave brutal winds bone chilling temps a icy waters and frozen line guides.
Now, if you want to scratch that itch, we can go any mild day of the year.
In some ways I’ll miss it.
It really was thing to look forward to.
It really attracted new comers to the sport
It highlighted the hardcore fly rodders.
But 20 years is a good run for a tradition that helped build fly fishing in the province.
As you may all be aware, the forum has been tapering off as each person decides social media (Facebook in particular) is their better option.
I get it, a one stop to have your own page and visit all your hobbies in one fell swoop.
I even tried to start a FB version of the forum but I didn’t want it to become like all the previous MB fishing forums and current FB groups (ruining spots with over sharing and spam) so I made it private with admission restricted to members there, only 17 have joined.
Since we have so much excellent info archived there and many are becoming disenfranchised with (or never liked) FB I am taking a shot at bringing the longest standing fishing forum in the province off of life support.
The first step is with you.
You need to participate.
An easy step to remind yourself to go there is to change your email notifications settings.
If you go to Profile -> Edit Profile -> Notifications (tab), you can set forum and/or email notifications there. The checkboxes are for on-forum notifications while the dropdowns are for email notifications.
You can also email or PM if you have thoughts or questions
I will do a round up of our fishing year later but I thought I’d generate a report about a recent trip to the Whiteshell Provincial Park
I used both previously but have not posted yet. One problem is the GoPro produces files that are not compatible with most editing software. As well, with the larger card I can produce 20 hours of video and that’s a lot to edit. The drone is great for scenery but fishing with it is problematic.
First, here’s some drone footage of two of the 3 spots we hit. The 3rd place is more popular and populated so I didn’t bother.
The first stop was the Dorothy Lake Trout Pond.
Not a Sniff. No jumps rises hits. Now they kept stocking it even though years of drought reduced it to a puddle and they didn’t stock it (or report it at least) this year. But as you will see from the video, it is at peak levels between the rain and the snow melt and the spring at its bottom. The fish might have died in the low water. Hopefully the water levels remain the same and the stocking continues. As far as ponds in the province go, this is a very quiet and pleasant place to fish.
We spent the next bit on the Whiteshell River near Pine Point. Some bass and pike were caught. It was real nice to see the river at a good strong flow. Last year is was shockingly low!
We finished up at the popular Rainbow falls (were I did not fly the drone) and caught small bass and pike.
We had visions of hitting one more spot but, a stop at the Night Hawk Cafe for a burger and the earlier sunset, made that a no go!
Here’s the GoPro 10 footage. My two complaints about this camera is 1) the already stated incompatibility of the files (I have to run them all through conversion software to work in any editing program) and 2) it shuts off if ‘it’ gets too hot. It shut off a few times (and missed capturing a couple of fish). It was only 23 but I am guess it runs hot and the direct sunlight exacerbates that. I think I need a bigger hat!
For what ever reason I didn’t do one fishing report or blog update. So I’ll do a slam on the whole season
Drought Drought Drought
As you can imagine the 5-7 year decrease in rain and snow had an awful effect on water levels and the fishing. Places that were good went to being good only in the spring and eventually, not even then. So off my list was any local streams.
The Warm early in March Fairford Trip
A skunking no fish even seen.
Middle of March To the Whiteshell. Low but open water and little snow
Again no fish seen
Mid April Trouting
Not a lot of fish but a few chubs and small brookies
Early May Same Place
More and better fishing
A few Small ones
Back to the secret location
The next Weekend we were off to the Manigatogan Falls as they enter the Winnipeg River System. Lots of male smallies and a breed of sucker (Silver Red Horse) that were not only feeding but took flies!
Well that was so much fun I decided to go again the next week armed with my 4wt switch!
Then back for more brookies with the Tenkara (reel-less fly fishing).
Then back to Manigatogan the next two weekends
You Guessed it! What can I say I love the place.
Haven’t been to the Red in years and I picked the wrong year to try again…drought
Next two trips had us back chasing brookies.
Hit one of my favourite spots on the Whiteshell…again the drought has taken its toll.
And then my oasis in walleye lake fishing desert
Another of my Haunts is MacArthur Falls. Here we see Stephen with a fly reel he 3d printed (and a small bass. I caught a real nice pike on a switch rod that I am still waiting for a picture of.
Staying at a friends cottage in the Whiteshell had me looking at the river by the hatchery. I have real issues with how this place is run. They can stock little ponds down the road that summer kill fish but can’t put fish in the river RIGHT BESIDE the facility because the levels are too low. While this is a drought year the levels are always too low because they are constantly raising the dam on the river to placate cottage owners.
3 weeks in a row, small stream fishing.
To finish our year we end where we began. Fairford. The greenback run was on and the fishing was good. It was depressing because of the family/crowd on the bank there all day taking everything.
As I write this, we have had a very good snowy winter followed by a very wet April. This bodes well for the coming season!
This year, I am trying to do something else as far as reporting goes. Rather than post my weekly trips and then fend off inquires as to ‘where is that’. I though I’d wait until those sorts were safely hovered over their ice-holes.
June 19th Whiteshell River Headwaters
This stretch of water has been the jewel of river trout fly fishing in Manitoba, for as long as I have lived here. The hatchery is “RIGHT THERE” and yet there were no fish. The water levels were great. I fished till sunset. No rises not pops no dimples…nothing. Sure they have fallen on hard financial times due to cut backs and mismanagement but they are still making fish RIGHT THERE. To stock this river would require zero effort or expenditures. The pothole farmer ponds with aerators are getting their fish out west but the creek beside the fishy factory, nope. Well a creek did get some fish. 4,000 fish they dumped into McKinnon Creek to die when the truck broke down heading to one of those aerated ponds.
Lyons Lake August 2nd
And then the Heat Wave
The blistering prairie heat from late July to mid August is why we go to the east coast every year. So my tying output went up.
Back at it Fall Fishing
Alright, fall feed bag! Last time I was here caught a bruiser!
September 30th Whiteshell
The fall colours, the cooler temps.
It’s a beautiful here in the North central Whiteshell, a rare chance to wade and fish in Manitoba. It is also a lovely walk and chance to see birds and other wildlife!
Lac Du Bonnet Trout Ponds
Too small to call a lake and bigger than your average pond. The only aerated pond east of Winnipeg. It is well stocked and, even when it winter kills, it gets a fresh load while other places languish. I usually use a 6wt on these types of trout ponds. The fish grow fast and large on the fecundity and living in warmer water. But the first fish was of salmon proportions in a brown trout. Probably a brood stocking, maybe it over wintered but, either way, it was a hell of a fish with lots of fight! I landed the fish and was able to catch a few more good fish be fore the stress THAT fish put on my rod caused it to break. One of the rare times I hit the water with just one rod so that was the end. But it was a good day!
Western Brook Trout Oct 4th
I won’t tell you where. You’ll have to do your own homework. The fishing can be spotty and they are not big but what the place doesn’t need is a lot of fishing traffic and the accompanying litter Styrofoam, sunflower seed packs, Michelob cans. Also we have permission as this runs through private land.
The rest of the year
So I went went out a few more times and places nearby but mostly to sort out my 6wt switch rod. As well, I wanted to check out some spots to see if they iced up at all. Given that my 2 weeks of Christmas Fishing in Florida was cancelled due to the restrictions, I figure some open water might be a good salve on a mild day.
So I bought a new line for the switch and it works fantastic as well ordered a 4wt switch. As it stands right now I have booked a week on and near the St. Mary’s River in the Kootenays for August and sorting out the gear needs for that and the coming season.
Till next year
One thing that has not been affected by the government shutdowns is fishing. The only exception to this was cancelling our Fairford River trip. People still went but there was no official day to meet up thereby circumventing the gatherings restrictions.
You may ask why I am lumping 4 months of fishing related reports into one post. Well the answer is simple. I was in the process of changing web hosts and any updates I did on the old server, would not make it to the new one.
Fly Fishing Reports for the Months of May and June.
On the opener, as we call it, I elected to stay near home. I work Saturdays and the opener is ALWAYS on the mother’s day weekend. I went to Woodhaven Park where Sturgeon Creek runs through and got skunked.
On next weekend I went to a secret location that has been fantastic in the past but is falling on hard times. I keep it secret not to be a jerk, not because the fishing is easy but to stop the dilettantes from ruining it with styro foam, litter, driveway blocking and other activities that would lead to not trespassing signs and such.
The next weekend I was back to Woodhaven after work.
Lot’s of active fish, a few hits, but just this one pike.
The next weekend saw hit up Big Creek on the western edge of the North Whiteshell Provincial Park. Pike abound as well as small mouth bass.
It was windy and we had all kinds of weather.
The next week I spent the Friday guiding a fellow around the same area. He didn’t do well but he had fun. Each location had fish as I tested the water and found active fish.
Fished twice in the same weekend!
On the Sunday after we went to check out some water coming off the east side of RMNP. Rumour had it some brook trout were stocked in one of the creeks, creeks that had had stockings before.
We found no fish but some fantastic water that could hold fish if the province had the will.
In June we spent the first weekend revisiting a spot I took my client to in May. We did well.
Hunt Lake Rebound
The next weekend had me going solo to the southern Whiteshell. I picked a funny day to go. It was the free park admission and free fishing weekend. To say it was busy was an under statement!
Stopped at Lyon’s lake and it was a turbulent mess with the high SE winds. I was committed, equipment wise to lake fishing, so the river was out of the question. The thought about grabbing a bite at the Night Hawk Cafe and just driving home crossed my mind! Glad I didn’t.
While parking was at a premium at Hunt lake, it was mostly for the hikers. As I arrived the park patrols were checking barbs on the dock and sending folks home. Educating not fining!
Rigging up quickly, I got to work. My goal this year was to slow all my presentations down in general but on these eastern lakes in particular. I had gotten to used to fishing these lake as they were and as they ‘should be’ instead of fishing them as they are.
With a sink-tip 4wt as my opening bid I was quickly rewarded!
It was slow after that but there was some surface action. The problem was the high winds made most of the lake un-fishable. Normally, even in the worst winds, this little lake is immune. Anyways I caught a more normal sized brookie and perch and the last fish was another good one.
After years of neglect and a blatant favouring of western lakes, it is nice to see this lake produce. Not just for me, but for the dock anglers as well.
The only drag is the drive home had a 50km detour off Highway 1 to get home.
Around this time of year my fishy senses start to tingle as the pike and bass move into the shallows of the Winnipeg River tributaries. They are there all year long but the numbers and sizes are better early season (May from the opener to the middle of June). A narrow window of opportunity exists before the bigger fish move deeper and they spread out in general.
Mostly Pike, lots of hits and some sign of Bass.
Typically going on a Friday, after the long weekend and before school lets out you wouldn’t see another person but these are unusual times for sure and the parking lot and launch were the busiest I have ever seen them.
Busy weekend Fly Fishing wise. Friday I went fishing, Saturday I taught a casting lesson. A guy from outta town. Live near some good fishing and wants to do it with a fly rod.
Remember the super keen guy who want me to guide him? Well with my info he went and caught his first fish. But he still wanted to go fishing so I took him on my Whiteshell tour. The aforementioned snow and sudden melt made the conditions horrible for my Friday fishing and we got skunked at multiple location on this day too.
I did show him some great spots that he revisited the next week and still got skunked.
Guess we’ll have to wait till spring!