SASKATCHEWAN HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2016 (and other years)
BY HOOKED EDITOR DON LAMONT
Over the years I have spent countless days travelling the back roads of Saskatchewan, fishing the myriad of lakes and reservoirs that exist in that province.
For the most part, Saskatchewan has done a great job of protecting its fishing resources. There were very few of those trips that ended in disappointment. These were usually caused by weather and water conditions, not a lack of fish. Big reservoirs like Lake Diefenbaker and Codette as well as Tobin can all experience drop off in fishing success, due to dirty water caused by excessive runoff, huge prairie winds as well as water level fluctuations. Smaller lake are less prone to those influences but can be affected by overharvest. For the most part though, regulations are in place to protect trophy fisheries like Last Mountain and Tobin Lake. Commercial fishing is limited in the province and changes in harvest regulations has brought other destinations like Reindeer Lake back to prominence as a trophy lake trout fishery. I got a chance to fish this lake about eight years ago, a trip that I won’t ever forget.
It’s awfully big, unforgiving water that produces extremely large fish. This lake is not for the amateur but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about a visit. It has numerous lodges on the lake which provide expert guiding, both on the Saskatchewan and Manitoba side. Aaron Wiebe and Jay Siemens from Uncut Angling fished this lake in the fall and their story is on our website at http://www.hookedmagazine.ca/delivering-126-shimano-rods-to-reindeer-lake-manitoba/
It is also road accessible as are many of the other fisheries in this province. It’s this ability to drive almost everywhere that drives a vibrant marine industry in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. Since most of the best fishing is on big water, large fiberglass boats are in demand. Glass provides a smoother ride on bigger water and windshields then become a desirable addition, especially when the weather is cold.
In 2016, I made two major trips out west, one to the southern part of the province and the other north. In the springtime, I headed to Last Mountain Lake to try some walleye fishing on the north end of this huge lake. Located just north of Regina, this lake covers a large area. It stretches more than 70 miles and is also known as Long Lake for this reason. It is the largest naturally occurring body of water in southern Saskatchewan, although Lake Diefenbaker (created by damming) is larger. The lake was named for a Plains Cree legend about the Great Spirit shoveling dirt from the valley the lake now occupies and forming Last Mountain Hills east of Duval. It was early June when I made the trek there, heading north from Regina past Craven on Highway 20 past Bulyea, Strasburg and finally Govan.
For years friends of mine from Regina have been fishing this section for the first three weeks of the open water angling season. This past year I was invited along for the ride and deluxe accommodation at Last Mountain Regional Park in a borrowed trailer
We started by checking out all the back of the bays, then worked our way out to find the larger schools of fish. By the end of the two and half days on the water, we had them fine-tuned and our last evening produced nonstop action along with some of the bigger fish of the trip. Presentation was simple, just a spinner rig tipped with night crawlers and weighted with split shot. The deepest we caught fish was six feet so a couple of shots was all that was needed. There was a bit of emerging weed growth but nothing to worry about.
One of my favourite places to fish all time is Tobin Lake. I first fished it in 1980 as part of the Tobin Lake media day while working at CKBI Television and Radio in Prince Albert. Ever since that day, I make a trek back at least once a year, usually in the fall. That didn’t happen in 2016, it was a July trip instead.
I ended up fishing a walleye tournament out of the Tobin Lake Resort with longtime friend Boyd Holmen. To be honest, it was one of the best walleye bites, for both size and numbers, that I have ever encountered. Over the years my group of friends up there have searched this huge reservoir to find new spots away from the crowds. On a trip two years ago Boyd and I found a new area after watching cormorants, pelicans and seagulls gulping ciscoes off the surface. As we cruised around this area we soon spotted large marks on the bottom in 25 feet of water.
Yes, they were large walleye and since that day we have fished this area about five days, fine tuning location until we now catch fish until our arms get sore.
Of course this all might change this year, but it once again shows, that in fishing success, you are only limited by your imagination and willingness to explore and try new things. Every year upon reflection, it is that one common theme that brings back memories of great satisfaction in solving the angling equation.