The year was 2009 and I along with a group of American anglers were lined up on the dock of Adventure Air in Lac du Bonnet. Anticipation was high as the Turbo Otter taxied in, getting ready to take them to an outpost camp on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
I was along for the ride, but with a different destination in mind. I was going to continue on to Amphibian Lake Lodge to meet up with U.S Outdoor writer Jim Crowley. Shaun Jackson, the owner of Amphibian was our pilot this day, one of a growing group of young Manitoba born lodge operators.
Amphibian Lake Lodge
Amphibian Lake Lodge is located 150 air miles northeast of Winnipeg and 110 air miles north of the Adventure North air base in Lac du Bonnet. Amphibian Lake is a widening of the Pigeon River just a short boat ride from Shining Falls. This incredibly powerful and beautiful set of rapids is the start of one of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking rivers in this part of the world. It’s one of a chain of rivers that flow west into Lake Winnipeg from the Atikaki Wilderness Park. With great water flow all year, this river also offers fantastic fishing throughout the season. A special feature is the wide variety of fish species available, including trophy walleye and northern pike, whitefish, goldeye, sauger and perch.
I got to appreciate the ruggedness of the landscape on the flight up to the lodge; the number of rivers and lakes that dot the landscape here on the east side of the Lake Winnipeg, almost too much for a hardcore angler to stand.
It’s this diversity and limited access that makes this part of Manitoba a truly amazing fishery.
What really stumped me though, was despite the fact we flew right over the lake in order to circle and land into the wind, I never saw the lodge until we were on the water. Nestled back in the trees the tip of an island on the Pigeon River, the main lodge was only visible from the water.
It was to be home for the next two and half days as we sampled the fishing this part of the world was famous for.
Wild on Walleye
What made it even more interesting was the fact that most of the walleye and pike that we caught were no where near the bottom. The fish on this trip were actively roaming for small minnows and other invertebrates that were moving up through the water column. While it made them very aggressive, you also had to get the bait at the right level!
The only time that changed was when we took the boat ride down to Shining Falls. The walleye were in the standard early season spot, the back eddies below the main flow as it shot down the falls from Family Lake next door. While we caught numbers of fish here with a jig and powerbait, we found the larger female walleye had moved out to an adjacent bay from the rapids. By trolling shallow diving crankbaits off the bottom, we got into some beautiful fish. It was interesting how these fish were relating to the structure and the current, a pattern that can produce year round.
Casting out a small blue and white shallow running Rapala, we caught one big walleye after another. Since the shoreline was one of the rockiest in the lake, these were probably post spawn fish still feeding near a shoreline spawning area. Whatever the reason it was one of the highlights of the trip.