In my 36 years in the sport fishing industry I have sampled a lot of water and heard about a lot of great fisheries. So when Hooked Magazine contributor and guide Ben Beattie talked to me about coming and fishing Lac Seul and area I didn’t have to think twice before I agreed. Lac Seul is noted for its gargantuan muskies, some of the largest in the world. Linda Rice owns the record for the largest muskie ever caught by a woman, an incredible 57 inch fish that was estimated to be 57 pounds.
She also happens to own Moosehorn Lodge on the shores of Pelican Lake, with the town of Sioux Narrows a five minute boat ride away. When friend Jim Price I arrived Thursday afternoon after the five hour drive from Winnipeg, we were greeted by a friendly staff who immediately got us checked into one of the nine guest cabins on the property. Down below was a long dock that housed the camp boats and one house boat. Soon Jim and I were unpacked and launching the boat for a tour around Pelican Lake itself. This was to be the first of five lakes we were to fish in the next four days of our visit.
Day Two of our journey saw us trailering the boat down to Hudson to launch and head up to Bear Narrows, situated at the very northeast corner of massive Lac Seul. It was a thirty five mile boat ride that took us through back channels, current areas and expanses of open water. Our guide for the day, Dan, was a veteran of 25 years on this lake, so we had no problem finding our way up to the area we wanted to fish. Bear Narrows and area was close to the major spawning grounds of the Lac Seul walleye and most of the camp boats in the area were to fish this section during the last two weeks in May. We headed to a sandbar that jutted out into the lake off of one of the many islands in this section. Lac Seul is a reservoir that stretches some 614 kilometres, big water with some big fish.
We started out by drifting the bar, just to cover some area to see were the largest concentration of fish might be. Once we caught more than one fish, we would drop anchor and fan cast the area in water from four to 12 feet in depth. Using light jigs tipped with lively minnows, we spent almost five hours working this one area with pretty much nonstop action.
Dan landed the longest fish, probably about 27 inches, while Jim caught one pretty close to that. In order to give our jigging arms a rest we headed to shore and enjoyed some fresh walleye for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day so after lunch we once again dropped anchor to enjoy the fast walleye action that Lac Seul is noted for. All too soon it was time to head back down lake.
Day three promised more great weather, but this time the wind was to be a factor in fishing success and location. After some discussion with the guides at Moosehorn Lodge, Jim and I decided we would trailer the boat to Big Vermillion Lake. This was only a short hop from the lodge, one of many lakes in the region that hold multi species. On this particular day we wanted to try for the lake trout that swim everywhere in this relatively large and deep body of water. Since the surface water temperature was only about 46 Fahrenheit in the main lake we figured the trout would be at all depths. Still, we wanted to let the fish tell us what they wanted so we started out shallow, working bays next to deeper water.
Jim was long lining a #7 Flicker Shad in the minnow colour and I was using a side planner which behind trailed a # 9 original floating Rapala, also in the minnow colour. It didn’t take long before we had our first fish, this time on Jim’s rod.
Our next fish hit on a rocky shoreline point, but unfortunately I was in the middle of a bathroom break and couldn’t react in time. As we headed to a set of narrows that accessed the main lake, Jim started marking quite a few fish in 22 feet. We decided to start trolling the back side of the narrows, an area that was seeing some nice current flush from a strengthening west wind. Bam, a bigger fish had just slammed my lure again, and this time it stayed hooked up. Okay, Jim it’s one/one! We spent a half hour in this area, with two more decent sized lakers landed.
As we wended our way through the narrows, the wind continued to increase in intensity until we were dealing with a 40 kilometre an hour breeze. As it turns out, this wind was to be our friend. We had decided to try fishing a long narrow, shallow bay on the south end of the lake. We had been told from the guides that this bay held a ton of smallmouth at certain times of the year. As we headed into the start of the bay, we continued to troll but I had changed over to the new Shadow Rap from Rapala.
This was the first time I had tried the lure, and it wasn’t in the water two minutes before it caught a fish. Surprise, surprise it was a beautiful lake trout caught in seven feet of water! Talk about fight, this thing ran all over the place in the shallow water. This was to be the start of a great pattern as we landed seven lake trout from this bay, all in water less than eight feet. With the wind howling, these fish were not spooked by the boat and many of the fish hit with a short 50 feet of line out. We also managed a perch and two healthy pike from this area but nary a smallmouth to be found. No matter, this incredible lake trout fishing more than made up for it.
Day four finally saw us meet up with Ben Beattie, muskie fisherman extraordinaire and a darn good outdoor writer. Ben has been guiding out of Moosehorn Lodge for seven years, with a waiting clientele to book his services. We arranged this trip so we could work around Ben’s schedule but unfortunately none when the muskie season was open. So on this day we were going to try our luck on walleye, bass and pike on Lost Lake, a small body of water just south of Lac Seul but connected by water. The day started out dead flat calm, not the best conditions for catching walleye, or most fish for that matter. After a slow morning, Jim and I convinced Ben we should try for some smallmouth bass. We headed back to a shallow bay, a spawning area for the smallies.
Moosehorn Lodge is one of two lodges in the region that supply full time guides. And these guys are good, some of the best guides I have ever talked to. They fish full time, are knowledgeable and passionate. These guys will get you on fish or point you in the right direction. The food and accommodation was also outstanding. Moosehorn has nine standalone cabins that accommodate any size of party. They also have top quality rental equipment if you want to strike out on your own. For more information contact them at www.canadafish.com.
After working a couple shoreline points we had two smallmouth in the boat, not an overly productive pattern so far. We then tried pike fishing for a bit, with just a couple small fish to show. Ben was scratching his head a bit, trying to figure out the next move when the wind started to blow in earnest. Both Jim and I knew that given the direction, those fish in that back bay might start to go now that a good chop was blowing in along the shoreline were we had caught the smallmouth and some small walleye. As soon as we got there, I knew the conditions were right!
I was pitching a 1/16 ounce plain lead head jig tipped with an Impulse brown ribbon jig leech, tipped with a medium live minnow. While I caught a few fish on the straight jig leech, the addition of a live minnow really got the bite on the go. We started pitching our jigs right next to shore, hooking fish after fish including jumbo smallies, some decent walleye and a few pike for good measure.
All were gorging themselves on mayfly larvae that had been moving to shallow water because of the hot weather. This shallow pattern for the second day in a row, once again provided some great springtime fishing action.
IN SUMMARY: Jim and I really enjoyed our five days this country. We were amazed with the amount of water available in one small area. It would take a life time to explore all of this water. In talking to Ben Beattie, he explained that is why he moved here from a high pressure job in southern Ontario.