“Check this out guys!’ yelled friend Don Delorme. Quickly moving to the side of the boat to see what all the excitement was about, an amazing scene was being played out in the water below us. Don had hooked a Lake of the Prairie walleye and was in the process of bringing it up the water column, when the afternoon sun illuminated the water to a depth of around two metres.
Wow! A school of big walleye could be seen slashing and swirling at the fish that Don was fighting. Tim Reid, who was in the front of the boat, was the only one who had his jig out of the water. Not for long though. Dropping it down, he immediately hooked one of those fish, another double header of walleye the order of the day. This scene has played out many times in my mind since that day a few years ago. It is one of the few times in my fishing career that I have actually seen walleye that competitive that they would come to the side of the boat.
Since that trip, Lake of the Prairies has had its ups and downs. Over the last three years fishing has been “tough” by the lakes usual high standards, with lots of small walleye less than fifteen inches being caught. Constant winter drawdowns have had a negative impact on walleye spawning success. Many of our other lakes, rivers and reservoirs have still been producing some great fishing. Almost all of our rivers in Manitoba continue to be very productive, including the Red and Winnipeg Rivers in the fall time along with the Assiniboine River plus the Whitemud and Saskatchewan. Why are rivers so productive in the fall? If there is any amount of current flow, many of our baitfish species are attracted. So, for example, there could be a huge run of shiner minnows up from Lake Winnipeg into the Red and Winnipeg rivers, followed by ciscoes, tullibees, and the more and more prevalent lake whitefish. Big walleye, pike, and other top of the line predators like catfish, gorge on these species. Goldeye and mooneye also enter into the equation. The quality of the fall run of greenback walleye is then predicated on the number of forage fish in the system. If there is a lot, then fishing becomes incredible. For the Red River, there are a couple of other factors that come into play. One is water clarity and the other is current speed. If you have the right combination of both (not too dirty and not too fast) then you some have fishing that is usually lights out. Wind direction also plays a factor in the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. A big north wind for more than one day can pile up water and baitfish in both of these rivers. At mouth of the Winnipeg River in Traverse Bay, you want to be out on this body of water after the wind subsides after long periods of north winds. Out on the shallow rocks piles walleyes will be slashing into huge schools of forage fish that have become disorientated from these winds. I have had many incredible fishing days like this trolling crankbaits in the two metres of water on these rocks. This is a fall pattern worth noting for almost any body of water that you fish on.
Not all anglers have the equipment or experience to have success trolling but that is not necessary for success. When the fish are scattered certainly trolling helps but in many cases if the angler can find a spot that funnels fish like a river mouth, then anchoring can be the most effective method to present your lure. I have had many great days in the Red and Traverse Bay just jigging behind the boat. This is especially important when it is windy and boat control becomes an issue. Having a really good anchor though is critical to success in bigger water. Traverse Bay can be an extremely tough place to hold anchor when you get on mud bottom.
TROUT WATER IN MANITOBA
Many of our trout stocked trout waters have been dealing with perch and pike infestations lately. Those include Perse, Tokaryk and Pybus in the Parkland region. The fishing for brown trout in Perse is still good though and on Tokaryk you have to deal with both perch and pike. For those interested in big rainbows, West Goose is still solid for brown and rainbow trout while West Blue Lake in the Duck Mountains has been producing brook trout in excess of 61 centimetres. Laurie Lake, a tough lake to fish in the summer, should start to get hot once the weather cools. It holds big brown trout, lake trout and splake.