It was around one o’clock in the afternoon when we packed up our gear and made the short walk across Tokaruk Lake to our vehicle. It had been a successful morning of angling but with a slowdown in action we figured it was time to change lakes. The weather was starting to clear up, the low hanging clouds and ice fog finally dissipating. Heading west we jogged one kilometer west and half kilometer south to Patterson Lake on Provincial Road # 577. As we pulled into the parking lot which doubles as a picnic area/campground, one other vehicle was already parked at the far end. Friend Steven Wintemute recognized the SUV of hardcore angler Clive Owen, a transplanted Brit who has discovered all the bounty that this province has to offer. He and two other friends had been on the frozen surface of Patterson since eight a.m. As we walked down to visit, one of the anglers had a fish on. After quick introductions we were back to the truck to collect our gear, an invitation extended. Spreading out over a narrowed down section of the lake, we had are set lines in four feet of water and our jigging ones in about seven. As the day wore on the action increased with a number of beautiful brown and rainbow trout landed and released. The largest, a brilliant dark red male rainbow was caught by a Trent Leys. Leys guides at Kasba Lake Lodge in the summer, but spends a lot of time during the winter ice fishing in all sections of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Earlier that same day Leys caught and released a female brown trout that was perfectly proportioned another sign that this lake continues to produce tremendous fishing.
While the fishing was a little faster than we had experienced on Tokaruk Lake in the morning, I would have to say the fight of the fish on Tokaruk was far and away more spectacular than on any stocked trout water I have ever fished.
When talking to fisheries biologist and friend Ken Kansas this week about the two lakes, he mentioned that all stocked rainbow in Manitoba the last three years come from a steelhead strain they get from British Columbia. Kansas says the rainbows of Tokaruk are legendary among both fly fishers and regular anglers alike as to the incredible strength and never say quit attitude when hooked. Kansas believes it has to do with the forage base of the different lakes. “Tokaruk rainbows seem to focus on minnows in the crystal clear water, making them constantly on the move. In Patterson with a varied forage base including backswimmers, scuds, leeches and minnows, while the fish fight hard, they can’t match the Tokaruk battlers.”
Kansas was also quick to let me know that I made a mistake in my last column when I mentioned that Tokaruk had to deal with winterkill and perch infestations.
In fact says Kansas, white suckers populated the lake after a series of Olha Lake blowouts into Tokaruk (Olha is just upstream) so the sucker numbers got quite high and likely impacted lake food supplies by way of extensive benthic foraging
Kansas knows there were some questionable winters oxygen wise...although no one saw any dead fish that he was aware of . The good news as far as he is concerned is that the lake has regained its' balance in the last couple of years.