Sunday, October 4, 2015


Aikens Lake/Lost Lake, Fishing in Style!

The first time I was introduced to the Aikens Lake experience was 2006. I was working for Travel Manitoba at the time and Aikens was hosting the first ever PWT Celebrity Shootout. The top ten finishers on the Professional Walleye Trail were invited to Aikens to participate in this first of a kind event. They would be teamed with celebrities from across North America who were vying for cash and prices, all for a good cause. In fact more than a $100,000 was raised for the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis.
I was teamed up with Andy Kuffer, a charter boat captain from Michigan who had been fishing the PWT Circuit for ten years. While we didn’t win, we had a great time in the boat together, just part of the three great visits I have had to Aikens.

The latest came the first week in September this year when General Manager Pit Turenne asked Hooked Magazine to bring some friends and visit their new outpost camp on Lost Lake. A beautiful log cabin, this outpost is one of the first of its kind anywhere. It’s really hard to call it an outpost, since it has absolutely everything a person might need, including 24 hour power, ice machine, two fridges, depth finders, two bathrooms plus sleeping accommodation for eight.
Now you do have to cook your own food, and put a bit of gas in the boat now and again but if you lack anything, the lodge is just an email away. That’s right they have Wi-Fi service that keeps you in touch with the lodge (and the world!)
Lost Lake adjoins Aikens and is connected by a small river channel. This means you can fish both lakes with the boats that are supplied. They are nice roomy 16 foot aluminum models, with 20 horsepower four stroke motors. This allowed us to see almost every corner of the two lakes during our three day stay. While we caught quite a few fish during this visit, we didn’t catch any big fish. It seems with the extremely hot weather that we experienced, the bigger walleye had decided to stay deep until evening when they would move up the water column to feed on the ciscoes this lake holds. This patterns held over the deep water in the lake, and I mean deep! Aikens is over 300 feet deep, so there are also lake trout to be caught, though the walleye fishery is the mainstay.

If there is one thing that Pit Turenne learned from his dad that keeps Aikens the destination it is today were these words of wisdom. “You can’t control how good the fishing is, but you can try and control everything else!”  Aikens staff live by that motto, and there is not a stone unturned to make your stay the best possible. When you arrive at the dock at the main lodge, the whole staff is on hand to greet the plane. That is just the start of the Aikens experience, which should include a visit to Big Molly’s Bar if you are staying at the main lodge. It’s outfitted with a couple pool tables, shuffle board and a full stocked bar, a great place to talk about the days fishing.

Many master angler fish are caught every year and the guides on this lake are excellent with the best equipment. Each drivers a fully outfitted guide boat that has troll motors and top of the line electronics. While some times of the year are better than others you can expect to catch fish.

THE ACCOMMODATION:  When Gerry and Lorraine Turenne sold part of the lodge to a group of American investors in 2005, Aikens now had the cash flow to take things to the next level. What really helped was the foresight the family had in building their own sawmill. This occurred just after the Turenne’s, along with partners  Philippe & Jackie Lavack bought the lodge in 1988. This allowed them to produce their own wood, which not only save the great expense of buying the wood and flying it in, but gave us them the unique opportunity to build hand-crafted log structures. These cabins, especially the Great Gray Owl and Boardwalk Chalets, have become some of the most beautiful and unique accommodations among Canada fishing resorts.
The check out the Aikens experience yourself, visit their website at

I first met Gerry Turenne during my days at Travel Manitoba. He wanted to meet at the Red Top Drive In to talk about fishing and the lodge industry. He was there to share some wisdom from his time in the same position I had just signed on for. That initial meeting had a huge impact on my time there, and we were to be friends until he passed away this past year. He wore many hats, such as the work with the Festival Du Voyageur, an event that is now an international success. Gerry was not afraid of hard work or telling people what he thought.

He also had a huge soft spot for charity, especially when it involved young people.
Gerry requested that when he passed away, he wanted any donations sent to the Fish Winnipeg Learn to Fish program. More than $3000 has been gifted to this event. He had a huge impact on this industry in Manitoba and he will be missed.

Thank you for all your wisdom and generosity Gerry. It lives on with your family.

Note: This past week Gerry Turenne (posthumous) -- won the Award of Distinction from Travel Manitoba.

Lake Winnipeg Walleye at Risk!

Lake Winnipeg Walleye at Risk

Zebra mussels on eye-bolt and rope removed from Lake Winnipeg's south basin.
In an effort to prevent the Lake Winnipeg/Red River walleye population from getting depressed, provincial fisheries officials have decided to conduct a sustainability review, which is expected to be completed something next year. Bill Galbraith, the commercial fisheries manager for Manitoba, is working on the review in order to establish target mortality rates in order to determine what action, if any, needs to be taken. Mortality rates on the big lake have many groups concerned that there might be a dramatic downturn in the numbers of walleye available both commercially and to the sport angler. Now throw in Zebra Mussels and things become pretty crazy. There has been a huge explosion in the population as major colonies are turning up along the beaches on both the west and east side of the lake as well as the Red River. New studies show that Zebra Mussels will not save Lake Winnipeg from blue-green algae blooms. In fact the opposite is true. Apparently new studies indicate that these little creatures are selective in the kind of algae they eat, spitting out the blue-green, creating even more algae blooms of this toxin.


Tired of taking your wrap off the boat in the spring to a musty odor caused by mold and mildew. Lyle Bauer and a group of investors are marketing a product that will stop all that. Called the Aegis Microbe Shield it provides a bond to treated surfaces that punctures the cell wall of micro-organisms on contact.

It is so effective that many pro teams including the Jets and the Bombers use to prevent mold on team clothing and equipment. It's totally eco friendly and will protect your boat from the buildup of algae on the hull as well. Pre Emptive Solutions is the name of Bauer’s company and they their website is

Bauer is also hoping this product will prevent the buildup of Zebra Mussels on boats moored in infested waters. This shield prevents the build up of algae on hulls and motors so should provide a deterrent to this invasive species. Bauer and his company have started the process.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Blood Moon Pike

It was a warm south wind that pushed behind us the five hours from Winnipeg to Moak Lodge on Cross Bay. Five of us were heading up to fish Cross Bay and area for three days. It had been a couple years since we had made the trip but anticipation was high as the weather forecast looked very favourable. Southern Manitoba had been blessed with extremely warm temperatures for most of the month, while the forecast for Grand Rapids was for reasonable wind and temperatures. Cross Bay is large water and any strong wind will make fishing tough. Upon arrival though, we could see that even though a south wind was blowing

briskly, we could easily fish where we wanted.  Heading straight west across the lake we were soon fishing our favourite pike bay with a variety of presentations. Friend Jim Price, along with Dan and Robert, were fishing close by in another boat. They were drifting the large bay with big slip floats and quick strike rigs on which was impaled a big dead bait. In this case we had some herring and sardines to use. Friend Pete Hiebert and I preferred to try some hardware along with the slip floats. Both of us caught a substantial amount of pike in the 30 to 35 inch range but none larger than 39.5. While nice pike, we were a bit
disappointed we didn’t break the 40 inch mark. All too soon, the day came to an end and we made the 10 kilometre ride back to the boat launch at Moak Lodge to load the boat on the trailer for the night.
DAY TWO:  A fairly brisk south wind greeted us on Day Two but is was more than manageable. On this day we wanted to try and find the walleye on Cross Bay. Two years ago we hand landed and released three Master Angler walleye from the northwest corner of the Bay. Fishing some of the same spots, we could only mark and catch small walleye.  Despite our best efforts we never did find any large walleye. In fact in the deeper water, the pike were swarming on the edge of sharp drop-offs. Jim’s boat lost a ton of jigs while trying to catch walleye in these areas, bit off by hungry pike. Pete and I meantime were hammering pike after pike trolling a Live Target Rattle Bait in the Shad Colour. These pike were in eight to 12 feet of water on the edge of weedlines. Still we didn’t catch any monsters doing this. In comparing notes, it did seem that the overall size of the pike was bigger in the deeper water, a pattern worth noting for future trips.

By the end of the day the wind had switched to the west, picking up in intensity. Pete and I made the right decision to leave before it got any stronger and arrived back to the launch just before all hell broke loose. The wind continued to grow in intensity all evening until it became gale force.
DAY THREE: We had gone to bed the night before right after watching the blood moon. Luckily it was clear enough to get glimpses through scattered cloud. Pete had a pair of good binoculars in his truck and this really allowed us to get a great view! Meantime as a new day dawned the wind had not back off and we knew that we wouldn’t be fishing Cross Bay this day. So we headed back to Grand Rapids with our rigs for fish for walleye in the Saskatchewan River. We didn’t know what to expect as the lodge owner had said the fishing had been slow the last week. After two double header of walleye in the first ten minutes that concern was over. We landed a ton of fish trolling into the current with # 7 Flicker Shads. Most of the fish though, were very slim.
There seems to be a real concern over the Lake Winnipeg walleye fishery has stocks decline and some change in the forage base. Last fall most of the smelt from the north end of the lake, moved south. Biologists are not sure what caused it, but this would really change the growth patterns of the fish in the north end. Still it was a lot of fun catching a ton of fish and saved the day.  The next morning with a 60 kilometre north wind blowing, we headed home.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summertime and the living is easy!

Some anglers get intimidated by hot weather and their ability to catch fish during the dog days of summer. As it turns out, some of the best angling for walleye occurs during the heat of the summer. Action might be better early or later in the day, but if the wind blows, action can be brisk all day long. Last month I got a call from friend Boyd Holmen about fishing a small walleye tournament on Tobin Lake. Seems he needed a last minute replacement in his boat. I don’t really fish tournaments anymore, haven’t for years but since all I had to do was show up, I decided to go. What really convinced me though, was another chance to catch those fat and sassy Tobin Lake walleye. Boyd told me the fishing had been great all spring and summer and judging by the pictures he kept sending me, this was no fish story. All those stories were accurate as over the two days of the event Boyd and I caught a bunch of really nice fish. With only a small number of boats, it was just a fun time. We found the majority of the fish on the secondary break line and by running bottom bouncers and spinners through the tree limbs we consistently caught fish. On the second day, when things slowed a bit we headed out to the big lake to see if we could find some active fish. Things were slow until some cloud cover moved in and the wind picked up a bit. We also started watching the cormorants, pelicans and seagulls gorging themselves on ciscoes.

Boyd’s electronics were black from the number of bait fish down there. Tough competition for our spinners and worms so we switched over to crankbaits.

Unfortunately we could only hook into pike using this pattern. We decided we would look around and try and find some fish marks closer to the bottom, under these fish. As we headed up on a big mud/sand flat bingo. Boyd’s electronics were marking one fish after another in 25 to 30 feet of water. We started slowly trolling the flat with great success and we had the spot all to our lonesome which made it even more enjoyable. Thanks Boyd for a great time and to the Nipawin Hawks hockey team for such a fun event.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The fourth generation!

 Jake's first fish
 Jake with the greedy pike
Known for its wildlife, great golf course and scenery, Riding Mountain National Park is also an angler’s paradise. The gem of all the lakes within the park though, is Clear Lake. Over the course of my life, I have always found time to visit this beautiful park. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada, the majority of people that launch their boats use it for watersports such as tubing and water skiing. The Lamont family has a long history with this region, having made the Wasagaming town site a summer destination from the early 1950’s. My dad grew up on a farm near Margaret, Manitoba so Clear Lake was the number one resort destination for people in southwestern Manitoba. I have a picture of my relatives visiting there in 1946. I spent some early years there camping with my family. One of my favourite memories occurred during the summer of 1970 when I spent a week there camping on my own. I wanted a place to train in preparation for a university basketball career. Every day I ran miles and miles along the back roads around the lake. In the evening, I would wander down to the town site to roller skate at the outdoor park or take in an outdoor movie at the drive-in theatre. It was a great place for both solitude and interaction with a myriad of young people who flocked there (and still do!)

 Julia and Jake checking out the Visitor's Centre during a little down time.
When my cousin, Peter Lamont from Oakville, started returning with his family ten years ago, it was a must to keep the tradition going. This July Peter had his grandchildren along, a fourth generation returning to the park and yet another generation to enjoy this incredible destination. Peter’s grandson, Jake, had a burning desire to catch a fish. His dad, Chris Betts, had taken him out in a canoe, but Jake was still to land a fish. I had agreed to bring my boat along on this week long family vacation so I could get Jake his first fish. Which, of course, meant the pressure was on. Finally the day arrived! We had agreed to head out the second afternoon after arrival. First though, came an an inspection for Zebra Mussel. Once done and the certificate received, we launched the boat at the east end of Clear Lake near the golf course. My original plan was to fish for walleye but after watching Jake struggle with a rod, I knew that probably was not the best idea if we were going to catch fish.
So off we went to the west end of the lake and a huge sandy, rocky reef that held a ton of northern pike, a fish usually ready to bite a crankbait. I had fished this pattern a number of times in the past and it didn’t let me down this time either. No sooner had I got the lures out behind the boat, that we had our first bite, a vicious strike that doubled my rod over in the holder. 

 Fish time!
To make a long story short, Jake had his first fish, and the pressure was off. Over the course of the next hour and a half we lost some fish, landed some and good times were had by all. It was the last fish of the day, though that really punctuated a great afternoon. Jake had been reeling in another fish, when his mom Kelly, who was reeling in the other line yelled that she had a fish on too! What was so unusual about this double header was the pike had grabbed both lures at almost the same time. Now that is a greedy fish, but of course pike are noted for that. 
What a way to end the day! Wow, and I mean wow!! 

As the week went on, we had another afternoon scheduled for fishing with the grandkids and this time Julie was coming. Julie was five years of age, and one of the most dynamic young people I had ever meet. I was really looking forward to having both Jake and Julia in the boat. It was a beautiful afternoon when we launched the boat at the main boat launch just south of the main town site.

As we headed out on the water, I was fooling around with my second depth finder to get my GPS working properly. Meantime my other unit, my new Humminbird 899 was lighting up like a Christmas tree! We were in 21 feet of water and it was showing some weed growth, but it was also lit up with baitfish and big marks all over the place.

 This was four minutes from the boat launch and the crankbaits were going down. In two hours of fishing we had four doubleheaders and landed too many fish to remember. It was some of the most intense action I have had and what a thrill for the kids. Unfortunately they will probably be spoiled for ever. Our biggest fish landed was close to 40 inches, a nice solid pike that put up a memorable battle.

 Kelly gets the big pike of the day!
 Julia enjoys the action with her dad

After getting everyone safely back to the cabin, the grandkids spent the next three hours painting pictures of their great afternoon. Here is what they painted.

This is why you need to take a kid fishing………………………………

Monday, July 27, 2015

Big Echo Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park

The year was 1983, my second year guiding for Eagle Nest Lodge on the Winnipeg River. I spent three seasons working at this remote lodge and during that time I made two portages into Big Echo Lake. Eagle Nest had two boats cached in Big Echo when I arrived and I can remember carrying in the third. In my second year I had also taken over as the manager so it was on me to portage a sixteen foot Lund in there down a rocky, windy trail that was just plain nasty. With me were two young students who were working at the lodge part time.
The transom was the heaviest, so they took that end and I the bow. It was one of the most difficult journeys I had ever participated in. After many rest breaks, we did manage to arrive on the shores of this beautiful lake. I can always remember that day and the other two days that I fished in this walleye factory. It was just incredible action, some of the best walleye fishing I have ever had.  I was determined to get back in there one day and as luck would have it two years ago at the Winnipeg Boat Show I convinced Shaun Jackson to fly me in to Big Echo.
Fast forward to last week, and I am on a float plane destined for one of my favourite lakes in the world. Jackson owns a series of fly in camps, and he happens to have the only outpost cabin on this lake. A few years ago he built a beautiful log cabin, with a full kitchen, along with beds to sleep ten people, with five boats ready to take you out to all the hotspots. Many of the guests prefer flying in to this lake, since it’s just a sixteen minute float plane ride from Shaun’s airbase at Lac du Bonnet.

In no time we are touching down on the lake, getting ready for three days of adventure and great fishing. Hooked Publisher Kevin Stobbe had also hired a videographer to record the trip for his website. I will post a link once completed.

DAY ONE: Over the course of the three days fishing we caught so many walleye my hands were a scarred mess. Day one though was the best day, with a cool wind blowing up a substantial walleye chop. This only made the fish hungrier and we found some large walleye on rock/sand ridge that extended off an island into the main lake basin. It was here we caught our largest walleye of the trip, one that measured 69 centimetres. Since this lake is on the east side of Lake Winnipeg it falls in the slot size restricted region of which all walleye between 45 and 70 centimetres must be released. That is also another reason why the population of adult fish remains so high.  We fished out of sixteen foot aluminum boats with 15 horsepower four stroke Yamaha motors. These boats covered the lake at a good rate of speed and were very quiet. I also brought along my Humminbird 899 which had built in GPS. While I couldn’t get it to read at top speed because of the transducer setup, it worked magic out there finding the fish.
One of the top spots we found was a rocky ride off a shoreline point that dropped into 80 feet of water. The bigger walleyes were stacked off the end of the point the first day we found it. We caught and released some of our larger walleye here.

DAY TWO: We kept changing up partners every day, which was fun. I did have a bit of a technical issue on the second day as my portable battery went dead an hour into the fishing day. We had brought in a generator to recharge stuff, but my battery didn’t seem to want to hold much of a charge. This did limit our success a bit, especially when searching for new areas. Still, we managed another solid day on the water.
DAY THREE: With the fish finder back up and running we headed west to try some new areas. We found a great narrowed down area between two islands that had some scattered cabbage weed on a sand bottom. Here we found the walleye in about 22 feet of water. By anchoring, we were able to catch a number of nice fish as they moved through this flush area.

In the afternoon we fished another large flat that extended out to the main lake basin. It had a large area of water in the 18 to 23 foot range. By slowly drifting and back trolling with jigs and live bait rigs, we caught some real nice fish including a jumbo bass that measured 19.5 inches…a great way to finish off the trip.
Big Echo also has a good pike population but we didn’t spend much time looking for them. The walleye were shoreline orientated in three to nine metres of water. The most productive areas were shoreline points and saddle areas between islands. We caught the majority on jigs and leeches or night crawlers
Our three days was over way too soon but it was a trip I would recommend to anyone. It’s very reasonably priced because of the short flight and the fishing is top quality. This outpost is one of the busiest that Shaun owns and booking well in advance is a real good idea. You can check out his website at

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crappie time in the Whiteshell

Ever fished for crappies in Manitoba?  More and more people are realizing that this species should be added to their list of species to target in this province.
Many lakes in the Whiteshell region of this province are now home to impressive populations of this popular gamefish. 

I can remember vividly to this day the great time we had on Caddy Lake ten years ago when I took my daughter out for a day on the water. She caught a massive 15 inch fish that is still the highlight of her fishing career.

When I got an offer from Robert Howe this spring to fish this chain of lakes I jumped at the chance. Launching at the campground, we had a chance to fish Caddy, as well as North and South Cross Lake, all of which have great populations of this fish. While it took us about three hours to find our fish crappie, when we did it was worth the wait. This fish were staging along weedlines, getting ready to spawn. By throwing small jigs tipped with a small Berkley Gulp or Power Bait, we caught a number of fish, some extremely large. We also caught some bonus pike and walleye, just a really enjoyable day on the water. Spring and fall are usually the easiest time to contact these fish but they can be caught all year long.