When it comes to the Whiteshell Provincial Park in winter, the scenery alone is a big enough draw. With ample swaths of boreal timber spliced with bare granite peeking through snow drifts and what seems like a lake around every corner. For years, many Manitobans have been spending a significant amount of their winter recreation time enjoying the beauty and serenity the area has to offer and while fishing is what usually brings me to this part of the province, there can be so much more to do in winter!
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS EVERYWHERE!
Snowmobiling is one of the bigger draws to the region and with hundreds of kilometres of groomed trails, one can see why. Touring through thick forests and across frozen lakes is a far cry from the “ditch banging” many prairie sledders are used to. Warm up shacks can be found along the routes and make for great spots to stop for a snack and a stretch. A Snoman pass is needed for travel on these trail systems, though there are many other back country trails that do not require one. Often these trails lead to or cross over lakes and many of those lakes are ideal destinations for ice fishing.
If cross country skiing is of any interest, there are at least eight different groomed trail systems through the Whiteshell ranging from novice to expert skill level. Maps, trail conditions and any other information can be found at http://www.whiteshellskiclub.com/. I’ve even seen folks out wind skiing with a parachute gliding across the lake as fast as the wind will take them.
WINTER ACTIVITIES GALORE
For those interested in some downhill skiing, snowboarding or tubing Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes is the place to go. The hills provide enough contour, slope and excitement to keep both young and old entertained. No matter where you travel or stay in the Whiteshell, snowshoeing is always an option and a great way to spend an afternoon. From the vastness of a frozen lake to one of the many winding trails, even venturing off the beaten path, this can be one of the best ways to explore and experience nature.
” I’ve even seen folks out wind skiing with a parachute gliding across the lake as fast as the wind will take them. “
As I said before, fishing is my main draw and one of my first winter excursions in this part of the province was a truly memorable experience. It started with a long walk pulling our gear through the darkness across a frozen lake to a point near an island.
“Over the course of the day at a few different spots, we caught every species we were aware the lake was home to.”
The mixed bag of fish provided an added level of excitement and anticipation as often you wouldn’t know what species you were about to bring up through the three feet of ice. Structural elements were key on this day in fish location, as ledges, humps and points all produced for us.
When ice fishing in the Whiteshell I like to have a few different rods rigged and ready. An ultra light or light action rod for panfish, spooled with light line and a small scented plastic or tiny spoon can provide hours of fun once fish are located and willing to bite. While having a medium action rod with a stronger line for jigging spoons and rattle baits for the larger predators. A tip up is worth mentioning as well as when in pike territory, a still dead bait will often entice a strike.
There are a number of species to target throughout the Whiteshell, from deep water lake trout and burbot to the more sought after walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, tulibee or panfish. We have even stumbled upon a pretty steady white sucker bite on more than one occasion. There are even a handful of lakes stocked with a few different species of trout that can provide good fishing, strong fights and great memories at certain times of the year. No matter your desired fish there is usually action to be had with the right gear and a bit of effort.
With a wide array of activities, accommodations and amenities, if you haven’t made the trip to this winter wonderland, it’s time you had. With the close proximity to Winnipeg a day trip is a breeze, but with so much to do and see I have a feeling you will be craving more!