THE YEAR IN REVIEW
BY HOOKED EDITOR DON LAMONT
As we approach 2017, it’s time to reflect on the year gone by. One of the things that stands out about 2016 in my mind is the weather. It seems almost every year the fall fishing season gets longer and longer as anglers continue to launch their boats past the middle of November. This year, a stretch of cold weather finally discouraged anglers to stop visiting Pine Falls but not until near the end of November. It was an incredible stretch of fall weather combined with some tremendous fishing.
I have been fishing Pine Falls and Traverse Bay for about 35 years but this year was an eye opener for me. I visited spots I never knew existed and caught fish all over the lake and river. As the equipment and clothing gets better exploration of untapped fishing waters becomes more and more a reality. Still Lake Winnipeg and other bodies of water in this province are in jeopardy. We need to reinvest in a fisheries management system that actually works, one that can provide sustainable management. It will be a big job, with some pain along the way but it’s an absolute necessity. Let’s hope strong leadership from our stakeholder groups can push this initiative past the hoping stage to implementation over the course of the next two years. It will be a job that requires public money but the long term benefits and ramifications are huge.
There are success stories out there, none better than Waterhen Lake and the river systems that support this fishery. While Waterhen Lake is commercially fished, it is one of the two freshwater lakes in the world to be Eco certified. Commercial fishers on the lake only use gill nets during the winter and closely manage their harvest to make it sustainable. I had a chance to see this first hand as I headed up there at the end of September with a group of friends. We enjoyed some of the best walleye fishing of the year, including three Master Angler walleye caught and released.
Lake Manitoba is also seeing a resurgence in walleye and pike populations. I actually spent a lot more time ice fishing on the south end here than I did on Lake Winnipeg. High water years and some carp access work in the south Delta have had a huge impact on the numbers of fish. Hopefully we can make sure to manage this resource as the pressure will increase substantially this year from ice anglers.
One of the things that totally upset me about what I saw on Lake Manitoba last year was ice anglers leaving dead pike scattered across the ice, no attempt to release them or clean them. This type of abuse has to stop, and it’s up to us as anglers to put pressure on anyone you see performing this type of waste.
From a fishing standpoint my most exciting catch of the year was a huge silver bass landed in late May out from the mouth of the Whitemud River on Lake Manitoba. I was blown away by the quality of the fishery out in the main lake on that trip, with many drum and walleye caught trolling shallow running crankbaits in three feet of water.
So as you see there is lots on the horizon for 2017. Let’s hope the new government is willing to listen the stakeholders and get this resource managed sustainably for all Manitobans. Sooner than later!
Happy New Year!