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.
Headed out to my formerly favorite lake, Lyon’s.
I say former because changes in focus on the delivery of services by the hatchery have changed this lake from being the jewel of the stocking program to an also ran.
The drive is still not bad, the launch is easy and the scenery is stunning.
First off a trip to the Whiteshell is not complete without a stop at the Nitehawk Cafe!
The lake was busy with kayaks and canoes as well as some shore fishing.
After launch I made sure I had the essentials!
It didn’t bode well as I got a fish on the first cast!
I was to go on catching a few of these. Clones is the best word as they were all the same size. These would be the most recent stockings.
When I started the clouds and light rain boded well but the the sun came out. It got hot fast and the fishing slowed down. But then come the perch that have always been in the lake.
It picked up a bit when the sun dipped.
I fished from 2-9:15 and caught a handful of trout fresh from the hatchery (7 in total). Saw one bigger fish work the shallows but that was it.
This used to a great lake. Back when a lot less lakes in the province were stocked, this lake got lots of fish. When the attention shifted to making then stocking the aerated lakes in the west, there were less fish to stock. Then the number of lakes in the west boomed. This (and the other Whiteshell Lakes) got zero fish for 2-3 years. The new director, who was clearly more focused on the western lakes, claimed the eastern lakes were ‘over stocked’ for years and used this as a basis for denying these lakes fish. That is when the fishing declined and has stayed pretty crappy and forgettable to this day. Even when the stocking returned (at seriously reduced levels) the lake has never been the same. Now we sit with crappy lakes in the east and a domino of failing aerators and bucket biologists in the west. There are still some good lakes in the west. But a system dependent on pot hole lakes not freezing during our long and cold winter and aerators to prevent winter kill seem precarious at best.
The economic benefits of these trout aquariums has been proven to be a reasonable return on the money via tourism, so there is definitely a need to continue the program. The problem maybe is every reeve and mayor wants a piece of this action and squeaky wheel politics is putting too much emphasis on the west.
I have lost count of all the new stocked trout lakes that have popped up in the west. Some I only hear about because it winter killed when the electricity was off for a few days or some reeve or mayor swapped out a working aerator for one with cost benefits etc.
You know how many new lakes there have been developed in the east in the last 20 years?
And that one is really (you guessed it) an aerated lake that just winter killed this year.
I am not against the western lakes as they have proven their worth but the Whiteshell lakes have clearly been the ones to suffer. These lakes just need fish. They don’t need aerators and the associated maintenance. They just need fish. The budgets are cut and they don’t have gas for the stocking truck but 2 of these lakes are seconds from the hatchery.
|Eastern Lakes||Western Lakes|
|Distance from main population/ international airport||Close||Far (except for Anton’s Lake)|
|Resource needs other than stocking||Needs no aeration||Needs aeration|
The western lakes provide economic benefit and grow big fish while the east grows smaller fish and the Whiteshell doesn’t need the help. But is that the only reason to stock the water, so you get more tourism?
How about stocking lakes based on the benefit of ALL Manitobans?
Got a last minute call to guide a visitor from Ontario. He had a trip with friends planned but that got cancelled.
Gave him the choices and he picked Anton’s Lake just west of Minnedosa
The client got in the water an took off to be left to his own devices (after having me choose a fly and nix the bobber…err…strike indicator.
He decided to go to the enticing back bay that never seems to have fish and I went to where the wind was pounding the shore.
Experimenting with a floating line and a weighted leech pattern and a sinking line with a minnow patter, I got my first fish. A recently stocked rainbow fell to a black muddler.
More experimenting got me a nice fat 23″ brown trout on a Sparkly Nymph pattern of my own Design.
I called the client over after this fish and got him to work the same shore line. As the wind was constant the main trick was to keep kicking into the wind while casting to shore where the fish would tend to be feeding. Even stopping your kicking to fix your gear or tie on a new fly would push you into the weeds and spook the fish. As this was his first time in a float tube, he still managed to get a couple of bows one in the 16″ range. As he was content to be off on his own I did not get any pictures of them. I did manage one more brown.
While this was not a classic day on Anton’s we still out fished the trolling gears guys who report anything from 0-1 fish caught.
The 15 is almost the halfway point in October. In most years this means only 16-32 days left in our fly fishing season. Our (very few and far between) trout streams close at midnight October 31st and the beginning of ice on the lakes is not far away. We have manage to get on a lake as late as November 18th, but that is a rarity.
Last time I was at Lyon’s, it was an epic skunking. Sure it was the height of summer but never have I been shut out on this lake.
Things are somewhat back to normal now.
9 Trout to hand mostly in the 12″ range the one that made it to the net but not photogenically, was a fair piece larger maybe 16″. All but the bigger one, was a jumper making amazing leaps out of the water, probably only because I didn’t film it
OF course the pictures Except for the perch they are clones of each other. I could have take the same fish and re-positioned it over and over and the effect would have been the same Please excuse the lower quality of the photo as I was trying a lower resolution to same time on editing later.
Facebook keeps giving you old posts from the past. This week it reminded me of a very successful outing on Anton’s Lake (just past Minnidosa) from a year ago.
Heck just this spring I had a good time as well
So, on Friday I headed out there to repeat the magic.
Well, as the saying goes, that is why they call it fishing.
For one thing it was windy. I usually time my trips to these aerated lakes based on the wind. Even a little wind can make these sheltered, featureless lakes surrounded by miles of featureless prairie, a challenge.
A challenge with staying on a spot, wind knots, casting accuracy, with flies presented, etc. It didn’t seem to matter what fly I put on I got the same reactions, light bites, hits some brief struggles, LDR’s and a couple lost at the boat.
The other fishers did about the same.
For me it was one fish to hand.
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.
Hit my favourite stocked trout stream on the last day of June. This place has been my salve over the 17 years I have lived here. When I tire of lake fishing, trash fishing (places full of trash) warm water fishing, etc. coming here has been the cure. On this day the hatches where good the mosquitoes bad and the hits a plenty. There was even loads of Hex husks! (Who says it is pointless to fish during the hex hatch.
I was hoping for a trout hat trick but caught 4 of the hatchery’s products with a rock bass thrown in for good measure.
Nice to see them treating this stretch of river the way it was intended, as a C&R recreational fishery giving people a feeling of what it is like to fish (preferably fly fish) a typical trout stream. In years gone by we’ve had the water shut off at the behest of the cottage owners, zero stocking, weird stocking, etc.
I tell you, it is nice to fish a few stretches of water and get uncountable hits and landed fish.
I started with nymphs, switched to drys (for more flying fish and less hook ups) and back to nymphs. Nothing big just big fun.
On May 26th I took a Father Son duo fishing. They were both from Brasil. The elder was very experienced with the fly rod but spoke little English and the son spoke excellent English but knew little about fly fishing.
Worked out fine. Dad needed no monitoring, could cast and fish. Could read water and choose flies. This allowed me to help the son.
Over all they were looking to catch some fish and take in some wilderness scenery. The weather and the scenery cooperated, the fish, not so much.
First stop was a hydro dam along the Winnipeg river. Except for the dam, the scenery is great. This place is usually good for a few fish, but on this day, after a couple of hours, we got none.
Down the road to the next stop. Where we did get some action in the form of hits and a couple of fish.
One small rainbow trout and one medium tiger trout.
Off again to get some pike and maybe a walleye or bass.
First stop was a launching area where we got some hits and landed on small pike.
Next (and last) was a favorite area of mine. Rare for Manitoba, in that that is more than a few feet of wade-able river.
The elder got 6-7 pike. I even took off my guiding hat and caught a couple as well.
As we had been at it for 10 hours we headed home. On the way we saw a bear in the ditch.
Here is the (short ) film of our day.
Changes At the Hatchery
So we are down to one hatchery location. This isn’t news but it is relevant. In reaction to, or in anticipation of actions of the newly elected government, the hatcheries has started on some austerity methods.
Those of you who are in the know who might think they are cutting back on
- Stocking back country lakes most can’t access
- Stocking ‘put and boil in the summer heat’ ponds
- Making hybrids that use the same amount of resources but produce less fish
Well you’d be wrong.
Other than a hiring freeze, that seems to date back to well before the election, they are cutting out the rainbow trout (and possibly brown trout) brood stock program. Instead having fish on hand to harvest eggs and milt, they are buying pre-fertilized eggs. The reasons are sound for going in this direction. Apparently hatchery fish take longer to spawn than in the wild. But gone are the days when you could accidentally catch a 24″ trout in an unlikely location. And gone is the security of making your own fish reared in your own water.
Another strange development is the addition of Albino Trout???
I guess they where giving away these fish from the “Trout Lodge” to their new best customers here in Manitoba so all tax payers were paying for was the rearing of eyed eggs to swim and the truck to the stocking locations around the province.
I am not sure the value of these fish beyond that. As one person put it “They look like someone threw a light bulb in the water”. Glow in the dark pink-eyed hatchery fish should prove no match for the loons, mergansers, and other piscivorous species out there let alone the trout that have been in these waters for a few years.
Better to save these fish for the ornamental ponds the were probably designed for.
Your Tax Money.
That stamp on your fishing licence, that became a permanent print on the licence, that was supposed to be only for fish enhancement, is now for fish AND wildlife enhancement. That means the fisher (who out number the hunters) will be footing the bill for all things outdoors and not just fish as intended.
Many years ago and many times since, it has been suggested that some of these aerated lakes with tax payer fish in them, should maybe have a ice fishing ban placed on them. Not all but maybe the ones that had special fish in them that don’t take well in other stocking locations. Two reasons have been given against any such change.
- That banning a form of fishing is seen as a form of favoritism to fly fishing. This is bunk, we have bait bans and motor boat bans all over the place based on biological reasons. (Even though keeping the gut hooking, grip and grin, photo op, eyeball freezing ice holes off a couple of sensitive lakes can easily been seen as biological. So we could have ice fishing bans on lakes LIKE EVERY OTHER PROVINCE IN CANADA AND EVERY NATIONAL PARK IN CANADA.
- That, if we did ban ice fishing on any lake whatsoever, that some locals would ruin them by illegally stocking them.
Well guess what. Pike, perch and even catfish have been introduce to many of the aerated stocked trout lakes. Some can be blamed on overland flooding but most are a direct result of the so-called “White Pail Biologists”
The worst of both worlds. We could enact a law for fear of someone breaking a different law and sat back while they broke that law anyways.
So we still have no 20th century regulations in place outside of barb-less hooks. and the can and cannot fish regs, designed to be simple. are a joke.
- Complete closure on all fishing except on stocked trout lakes (that now have closed season fish in them) April to mid May.
- We can net for suckers during that time but not angle for them
- We can angle on lake trout water in the presence of pike, bass and walleye
- We can’t angle for pike (like we can across the Ontario border) anywhere
- As fly fishers we can only use 2 hooks as each fly counts as 1 lure but we can throw a 3 treble (9 hook) plug.
- We have no C&R season for any fish
- We have almost no C&R water
Afraid of change much?