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.
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.
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.
The first fish I ever caught on a fly rod was a small-mouth bass in a southern Ontario stream. That fish and fight hooked me on fly fishing and I love to return to that regularly. I thought that, after good rains followed by steady weather, today would make a prime time to try. We went to Big Creek Manitoba. This is a big creek that feeds into the Winnipeg river system inside the Whiteshell Provincial Park. We launched our float tubes and and went at it. I found active fish pretty early.
The first fish was my first bass of the year (not counting Florida) and was nice at just under 18″.
I called to my fishing partner to come over as there were plenty of active fish in this inlet.
The next fish might have been the best of season and maybe my best bass.You can hear and see it on the video at the end of this article
After that there was numerous hits tugs and struggles. I worked the area, where I lost that fish, pretty hard and but only got one more bass and pike to hand.
My partner caught 5 smallies and zero pike.
Here is the full video (at least until the battery died).
The storm clouds you can see in the background of the photos and videos, finally caught up to us and we got off the water.
We were craving a burger from the Nite Hawk Cafe so we drove to the south east part of the park. If that seems like a long drive to you, you’ve never had one of their burgers!
As we were in the area, we thought we’d take a look at the Whiteshell creek after the disappointment of June 8th’s trip
Apparently there was supposed to be a tour ending with a stocking on the 9th. Our thinking being, 2 weeks might have given the fish time to acclimate.
There were no fish.
I don’t know if they stocking was so small as to be meaningless, the stocking didn’t happen, the mergansers picked them off or what. But no trout but also no native fish or fish sign at all.
The head waters are in trouble and maybe all of this is the after math of the stream ‘improvements’ and the bridge reconstruction. Maybe it will rebound in a few years. Maybe not at all
OK, OK not exactly a local report, but I do a small amount of traveling each year and I always fish. This year my semi annual Christmas/New Year Florida panhandle trip got changed in to a Orlando/Kissimmee late March trip. So 10 days – 2 travel days and 4 theme park days leaves 4 fishing days.
As you may already know, ponds in Florida have a default setting of having fish in them. It is harder to find a random pond without fish than it is to find one with. This is even more true in the Kissimme area. The most common species are blue gill and large mouth bass but you can find crappie, pumpkinseeds, bream and shell crackers too.
The fishing was slow and even when put against the chuck and duck crowd I either caught nothing like them or something unlike them. I also got to go out on a big lake on a nice pontoon boat. It suffered from a non functioning trolling motor and an absence of an anchor so we could never sit on a good spot long enough for the fish to calm down and everyone got skunked.
There is no sense telling you about the pond on Marigold or inside Celebration. There are ponds on the sides of roads, inside communities, public parks and golf courses they all have fish and everyone is used to seeing fishermen (though fly fishermen not so much). Each pond does carry the potential of having its own alligator, particularly the ponds that have year round canal connection to other ponds.
These ponds offer us some unique options
- New fish
- Easy Access
- Short Drives
I have fished ponds in Florida behind malls, on golf courses, the side of a high way, inside a gated community, inside state parks, etc. they all held fish.
Suffice it to say that if you find yourself in the area and have a free day, go fishing.
Normally my summer vacation is based on going away during the hottest parts of our Manitoba summer. Since we are doing a reset on our vacations, to allow for a winter trip, we stayed close to home. That meant borrowing a friend’s trailer and a week on a spot at West Hawk Lake. One of the things I was looking forward to was fishing the last 2-3 hours of daylight without the 3-4 hour round trip.
Day One August 7th:
Decided a quick trip to the river was in order. armed with just a tenkara rod and a box of flies.
Nothing. Not a sniff. at first I chalked it up to me wearing a white shirt. Then I lost most of my leader and at the same time realized that I left my leader spools in the car. OK too much minimalism is a thing too.
Day Two August 8th:
Wanting a redo on the day before, I donned a neutral shirt and was very ready with leader spools. Nothing. Not a sniff. Not only that, I didn’t see any fish sign. No risers, no swirls, nothing. On top of that there were no hatches going on and very little mosquito action. The water was a good flow and its usual gin clear.
I have been fishing this river for 17 Years and I know the spots. My best flies on the best spots didn’t work. Hell I even tried the “pellet pool”
The month before it fished well. The only major difference was the bridge construction up stream. I mean, it looked good, but maybe there was a spill that wiped out the fish and insects or at least encouraged them to move downstream to the lake.
Day Three August 10th:
Ok, time for some lake fishing. So I hit Lyon’s Lake. I have fished this lake more than any body of water. To say I know this lake is an understatement. Nothing but a few perch! Not trout. I waited till the magic hour when even the summer skulkers come up. Nothing. For many years I have been able to get trout in the summer but the fish-ability and over all quality of this lake (and Hunt Lake as well) has declined. If you look at the numbers 13,000 rainbow trout since 2014 seems like a lot. I don’t know if the number (in 2001 they dropped 13,000 fish alone in there and that was followed by some years of great stockings and great fishing) or size of the fish needs to be increased to help them out compete the the perch or stay out of predators’ mouths, but the last few years have been real crappy.
Day Four August 11th:
This time Hunt Lake. This used to be a near perfect lake for brook trout. But it got lost in the shuffle by trying to things differently. So, a once idyllic brook trout lake was made into a splake hell hole (don’t worry you won’t find splake on the stocking list for this lake but I have caught these slinky lifeless hybrids). There have been only 6,000 Brookie stocking since 2014 (compare that to the 13000 fish they put in 2001) but over 100 brood browns. Maybe they were put in to control the perch but we know they also like brook trout fingerlings. Anyways the spring summer and fall fishing on this lake is pretty terrible right now and has been the last few years coinciding with the decline in stocking
Together with McHugh, I have been fishing these 3 lakes for 17 years and this is the worst they have been. Even in spring and fall.
The stocking is tax payer paid for and should create a fishery that works. It used to work year round and it can again if we can get back on track. Hunt for brookies, Lyons for Rainbows and McHugh for browns, all in proper numbers. In the years of the supposed ‘over stocking’ we never saw die offs due to starvation and the fishing was great for shore anglers and boat anglers alike. Of course I say this as stocking levels drop, ‘Parkland’ lakes seem to get the lions share of the fish and the hatchery is getting out of having their own brood stock.
As usual, there are some photo ops as well.
In baseball, hitting for the cycle is hitting a single, double , triple and a home run in the same game. For me it was getting one each of our major warm water fish. A bass, a pike a walleye and a perch. The perch didn’t stick around for a photo but there is film to come!
I was happy to get the ‘hat trick’ (which is 3 goals in a hockey game) at my first location but the 4 species is nice. It was strange that the pike was the elusive one as in Manitoba, the pike is everywhere. Most of the fish fell for a #6 Muddle variant with the last one falling for a deer hair slider
So I took a Friday (May 19th) and hit a couple of lakes in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. originally I was only going to go to Barren Lake.
But the fishing was real slow. Got an 18″ pike off the top and then nothing for hours. 3 fish in 3 hours is slow for me.
I did manage a couple of nice loon shots on my Nikon D70.
So Off to the Night Hawk Cafe for a Burger and Fries (ask for the BBBB)
While I got few fish at Barren, I got many at Lyon’s. Those fish were all recent stockings and I couldn’t keep them or the perch off my hook. Between me and the Gulls, Terns, Loons, Osprey and Mergansers, we had a field day!
Here is the video of some of the fun.
And of course another loon shot.
After my final perch I went back to the launch and headed home. But one final goodbye!
Kinda my favorite quick stop warm water fishing spot. On this day I caught one bass (pictures) and one Pike (film) on the spey fly fishing rod.
It is big water.
MacArthur falls is a multi-species location I like because of the low angler pressure and the big water I can fish with my spey and switch type fly rods. Bass pike Walleye and moon eye