Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crowduck Lake Camp

After arriving home to Winnipeg from that memorable trip to Gunisao Lake, I got a call from friend Jim Price. He had made arrangements for us to get into Crowduck Lake on Sunday. I am not sure that my walleye jigging arm could handle any more fish but I was sure prepared to try.
After leaving my house in Winnipeg for the two hour drive to the pickup point at Big Whiteshell Lake, memories of master angler walleye danced in my head. It was in 1995 that I filmed a show in Crowduck for “The Complete Angler” television series with Mitch Dorge, who at the time, was the drummer for The Crash Test Dummies.

Mitch had never fished before and after landing a Master Angler walleye that day, along with about thirty other fish, he probably never ever understood how good the fishing was on this body of water. While the numbers of trophy sized fish have since gone down, on this particular day we caught about a hundred fish between Jim and myself. Most of the walleye were between eighteen and twenty one inches, chunky fighters that made us forget the miserable morning that had us shivering in our rain suits. In fact, when we got checked out on the lake by Manitoba Conservation officers around 11 a.m. the sight of these two made us feel warm. One had his teeth chattering and was on the verge of hypothermia. After a quick check for barbless hooks, fish, and a license, they were on their way to lodge for a hot drink. Shortly thereafter the sun broke through the clouds, with the temperature rising dramatically in a very short period of time. By one in the afternoon we were down to our shirtsleeves, catching walleye like crazy and enjoying every moment. We started out in “Dark Bottom Bay” pitching small jigs rigged with Berkley two inch Gulp minnows in five feet of water. Jim had two walleye in the boat before I even picked my rod up. ( I was driving) After catching about twenty walleye in no time flat, we moved out to the shorelines to see if we could catch some smallmouth- (no, just more eighteen inch walleye.)
Jim then suggested we head out to Gull Island, a spot on the lake renowned for trophy walleye. Back when we filmed the show in 1995, we sent down our underwater cameraman. He came back with some incredible footage of huge walleye cruising the rock piles below. It was here that Mitch caught his master angler fish. On this day the fish were still here, just a bit smaller. I let the boat drift over the corner of the island in about ten feet of water. Using an orange ¼ ounce jig with a large dead shiner minnow threaded up the shank, I immediately had on a good fish. In a short period of time we caught and landed a number of good solid walleye between eighteen and twenty one inches. As the sun got hotter and the wind died down, Jim and I decided to do some power trolling with heavy bottom bouncers and spinners. While we didn’t catch the numbers we had been getting with jigs earlier when it was overcast, we triggered some really good fish to hit these rigs. All in all it was another spectacular day on this great walleye fishery.
About seven o’clock Jim and I headed back to camp, just in time to see Nick Kolanski, Bill’s dad feed a raven on the front steps of the main lodge. Nick and the raven had become friends over the last year. Bill has taken over running the lodge and has he drove us out of camp and across Big Whiteshell in one of the four big yawls he owns, he told me it has been 28 years since he started working for his dad at the camp. Bill puts in a long day, up at four in the summer and driving the last guests out at sunset. While his U.S. business and dropped off a bit because of the economy, more and more Canadians are coming to his camp. A lot of anglers from southern Manitoba also come in the for the day trips he offers. Just a note, if you plan on renting a boat from the camp, your need to bring in your own electronics.
Also while the boats are in great shape, they only have 25 HP motors, so you are way better off to keep two anglers to a boat, at least if you want to explore. Believe me there is plenty to see and catch!
For more information on the camp, visit their website at www.crowducklakecamp.com

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