Despite the poor weather all last week, the open water fishing season has arrived in some sections of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Fishing for trout in Manitoba is allowed all year and in Northwest Ontario, some species like pike and smallmouth remain open all year in certain areas. Make sure you check regulations. Both the Manitoba Anglers Guide and the Ontario Fishing Regulations are online. I have both downloaded on my phone in case I need to look up a certain region or lake I want to fish.
Since water temperature and current flow is a key at this time of year, look for areas that had those two criteria, the warmest water available and some current flow. Fish will not hold in current if the water is really cold though, preferring to be just out of it, in slack water areas adjacent. If you have a feeder creek that is pumping in warm water, this is a great early season magnet for all species of fish.
So of course I had to head out this week to check it out. As I headed to the Lake of the Woods on my annual spring trip, I was totally impressed with the amount of snow still in the shade. It has been a long winter and any reprieve is welcome. Friend Pete Hiebert and myself like to get out about a week after ice out to get the winter cobwebs removed. So, we headed to the Lake of the Woods. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would rather fish in Manitoba but archaic fishing regulations here make it pretty impossible. Lodge owners in the southern half of the province have been saying for years we should keep the walleye season closed but let us fish for other species other than trout. And every year the fishery management team say no! Honestly, their answers don’t compute. Ontario has been doing it for years with no harm to the resource. If the province is open to business, then why let it go to Ontario? Are you listening Brian Pallister? We would gladly pour money into fishing catfish and northern pike, never mind smallmouth bass, keeping all that money into Manitoba. Instead every spring thousands of Manitoba anglers head to Ontario to try their luck when the ice is off.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we had a fantastic day, the fishing getting better and better as the day wore on. We ended up catching a number of different species, including those we were not supposed to keep, the walleye. In a quick twist of the barbless hook, those were released. I few small pike were kept for supper and one huge whitefish came to the net.
All in all, Pete and I spent about $70 on gas. We had purchased some different lures at tackle stores in preparation for our trip. We ended up having a fabulous day on the water, what fishing is all about.