Manigotagan River Manitoba May 22nd 2023
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.
The End of the Fairford River Freeze Off
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.
The 2020 Fly Fishing Season so Far
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.
Whiteshell Pike and Bass Trip
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.
A Terrible Fall
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!
Whiteshell River Tour September 2nd 2018
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.
Stocking Reports Updated
After 2 years the stocking map is now current!
What is nice is to see they are getting fish into the eastern lakes. Hopefully this is backed up by stocking to offset mortality rates due to predators and such.
Big Creek Manitoba Fly Fishing for Bass and Pike
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
Whitshell park spots
ON Friday myself and a friend hit a few spots along the Whiteshell River.
This Manitoba river winds through the park from McDougall’s landing to the Nutimik portion of the Winnipeg River. There are a handful of places where the river is accessible from road points without too much hiking.
We hit a few of these
We found mostly 12″ pike and the odd perch.
We found this very unusual. Typically the pike would be bigger and there could be more variety in species, but this has been a bizarre spring and the fish patterns are WAY off!
We also found it unsatisfying, so we headed down to the stocked portion of the river. This is usually stocked, stocked early and often
Not a sniff. We did read that they were going to make a big deal out the stocking the next day at the end of some tours ad presentations.
We are suspecting that the lack of stocking over all and the not publishing of reports for 2 years is to hide from the public how bad things are. Particularly how bad stocking is for non politically motivated lakes and streams.
There was some work done to create more fish habitat but someone put the ‘dead fall’ in backwards. A tree that falls into a river does not fall roots first.
I am not sure the logic. On one hand the roots will provide under water micro habitat for minnows and fingerlings. On the other hand they look hideous and unnatural. They are also going to be line and fly snaggers.
I am hoping this spring levels out and a normal summer leads to a great fall but right now the warm water fly fishing is weird and the stocked trout fishing is in precarious need of fixing, particularly in the fairness department.