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.
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.
Every spring, on the last day of the general season, we head up to the only open water in the province. Fairford river is 2 hours north of Winnipeg. Because of the drop it never freezes along a short distance from the dam on highway 6 on its way to Lake St. Martin. The species caught can vary widely but this year is was just Lake Cisco (locally know and tulibee) This is the first year I did not attend for non weather reasons. Any kind of weather can happen at this time of year. While some years have been beautiful this year was more like its normal self with a daytime high of -7
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
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.
I have a bit of a tradition that I keep. The last day trout season in Manitoba (at least for rivers) is the last day of October. The closest trout stream is the Whiteshell river. Sometimes I go before that. Fall is great ther because the fish have been stocked and acclimated and start acting like trout before they move to the lake or get predated upon or killed over winter or whatever happens to them so as there are no fish in the river in spring
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
Our annual event. Cold weather not bad fish caught tradition upheld!
Manitoba is covered by 6 months of winter most years. Spring is this ethereal thing that looks and feels more like well more winter. Nonetheless afew of us hardy souls head out to the only open water in the province…the Fairford River!
The water is clear, clean and wade-able. So why don’t I fish it more ofte? Because it is 2-3 hours of the most boring and somewhat dangerous driving in the province.
We hit it the last Sunday in March which coincides with the end of the regular fishing season, Spring Break and the warmest part of the late winter.
Now leading up to this day we had temps in the high 20’s but any other year fishing at the end of March and having a day time high of -1 with no wind would be considered a blessing.
So the Fairford River Freeze Off was on even if only 2 participants from Fly Fishing Manitoba were there.
It was -5 on the wake up in the ‘Peg and 5 degrees cooler at our destination.
At Ashern there was icicles on the trees and signs.