Pelican Lake, in southwestern Manitoba used to be a Mecca for ice anglers from Manitoba and the northern United States. Jumbo perch were in abundance along with the occasional walleye and pike thrown in for good measure.
Then around 2005 the lake started to winter kill on a regular basis and all that changed. Residents were concerned about their lake and for years have been trying to figure out the best way to help the lake back to health. A number of different groups were formed over the years with mixed results. Lately though the lake has staged a comeback and anglers are once again flocking to its frozen surface this winter to enjoy some excellent fishing. Many anglers have been accessing the lake at Manhattan Beach which is on the northeastern side of the lake. Jim Price says access is for 4 x4 or snowmobile only. He has been fishing on the end of a point in about 2.7 metres of water. While he has been catching nice perch in the 25 to 27 centimetre range, there has been a few walleye caught as well. Price says dead sticks are not producing at all and suggests sticking to one rod with a small jigging spoon. He says the key is to trigger the bite by working the fish up the water column. He uses a Hummingbird Ice 55 to watch the activity below the ice. The PK Predator along with the PK Spoon have been producing well, triggering those inactive fish to bite.
|A bonus trophy pike from Pelican!|
The Pelican Lake Healthy Water and Fish Committee (also called The Healthy Lake Committee) was formed in the fall 2012. One of the group’s main goals was (and is) to determine the most efficient and effective ways to improve the health of Pelican Lake. The lake is not small (7000 acres) but only has an average depth of three metres. In recent years, as mentioned, it has suffered blue green algae blooms, as well as significant fish die-offs. Both of these events have had significant economic impact on the region, thus the formation of the committee.
|Getting the pumps ready for action!|
AERATION: After consulting with professionals and doing plenty of research, the group decided aeration of the lake was the best option. With this in mind over the last two years the group has installed a micro-bubbler aeration system consisting of many individual bubbler heads that sit on the bottom of the lake and are connected to an on-shore air supply. They started out running 8 micro-bubblers through the winter of 2012/2013. For the winter 2013/2014 they have increased the number of micro-bubblers to 26. This system will now operate year round, with even further expansion as soon as funding will allow. Through the addition of oxygen with aeration, fewer nutrients will be available for algae blooms. In addition, during the winter months the oxygen added through aeration will help to prevent fish die offs.
Trevor McGuire, who chairs this group, is one of the driving forces behind the lake restoration, having spent thousands of hours and dollars to make this initiative a reality. After much time spent on the internet he found a company out of Alberta that specialized in the micro bubbler system. While not designed for such a big lake as Pelican, Maguire says with some experimentation and failures at first, this type of aeration seems to be the answer. A combination of smaller compressors makes the likelihood of a massive failure remote. He says also that the method of dispersion along the floor of the lake, allows for increased oxygen input along with a breakdown of decaying matter on the lake bottom, thus helping to increase water quality. Maguire says it also doesn't hurt that this year the lake has been higher than normal and that the snow cover is a lot less than other parts of the province. All of this has allowed for decent light penetration and increased oxygen levels all over the lake.
Right now all the aeration is taking place on the northern end of the lake but the group hopes to expand the aeration to the southern half of the lake as well, through the formation of a couple more volunteer committees.
Anglers Notes: The Healthy Lake Committee is holding an ice fishing derby in the northern basin of Pelican Lake on Saturday, March 8. Registration will begin at 8:00 am in the parking lot of Terry Fox Park in Ninette, and fishing will be from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm with prizes to be awarded after that. Entry fee is $20, and kids 15 and under are free. For more information about the group and their work visit their website at www.healthylake.ca