CLEAR LAKE DAY ONE:
|AL CATCHES THE BIG ONE AND SAVES A ROD!|
Friend Al Beaver had arrived back to Winnipeg all the way from Australia were he was working in fire control. Now he was headed up with me on what had been an annual fishing trip before he moved away. Every year we would get together with two friends from Prince Albert Saskatchewan on a fall trip that included both fishing and a round of golf. In past years we had visited Lake of the Prairies but this year we decided to try Clear Lake and Riding Mountain National Park on my recommendation. The only problem I had in organizing this trip was finding accommodation. Luckily in some past work adventures, I had found a place not too far away from the park that was both reasonable and clean.
Just after lunch we checked into our motel and waited for friends Tim and Don to arrive. They had left early in the morning from Prince Albert just a half hour behind us. It had been four years since our last trip so we were all glad to see each other when they arrived. Quickly packing our fishing gear in my boat we head to Riding Mountain National Park. We stopped at the Park gate to pay our daily entry fee and buy our fishing license. In total the two day trip cost us $30 per person for both the license and the entry pass. The park staff was very friendly and supplied us with all the necessary information on the fishing regulations, which is also available online at http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/mb/riding/index.aspx
|TIM HANGS ON FOR DEAR LIFE!|
There was a pretty brisk south wind blowing so I decided to use the launch that was located at the east end of the lake by the golf course. As we pulled up, we noticed we were one of the few fishing boats in sight. Many of the cottagers have expensive ski boats that supply their summertime entertainment and they were enjoying the great weather! In no time we were in the water looking to find some walleye to start with. On two previous trips in the last five years I have been very impressed with both the walleye and pike fishing on Clear Lake, located on the south edge of this pristine wilderness area. Wasagaming though, is a playground for people from southwestern Manitoba so as mentioned, depending on time of year and location, you have to dodge a lot of boats towing tubers and water skiers.
National Parks in Canada have been lead free for years when it comes to angling. I was lucky enough to have stockpiled some bismuth/tin bullet sinkers five years ago so we were covered for this trip but I was interested to see what was available on the market . After a search on the internet I came up with this web address that supplies you all the manufactures that deal in non-toxic tackle. Visit this site at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/loons/non-lead_fishing_tackle_suppliers_updated_may_2010.pdf
|THE PIKE WERE REALLY ACTIVE!|
This is important to note since none of the local retailers we talked to had any in stock. You are well advised to order in what tackle you will need before any trip that includes fishing in a national park. Using #6 and #8 barbless hooks on three foot fluorocarbon snells we started searching for walleye in spots that I had had some success in previous trips at this time of year. We started marking fishing off deep drops in about 24 feet of water but we couldn’t get anything to commit. We landed a couple small pike and hooked a ton of sandgrass but no walleye came to the boat. I tried a number of different spots with no luck. Frustrated I figured I better try a different section of the lake so we headed the boat west into the wind. If nothing else I knew there might be some active pike at this end of the lake.
|CLEAR LAKE PIKE LOVED BIG CRANKBAITS|
As I approached the shore the Humminbird 997 indicated a sharp rise out of deep water to 15 feet. Slowing down I started to mark fish immediately along with clouds of baitfish. Not having fished this section of the lake before I decided to start trolling some deep diving crankbaits in order to cover territory and find a pattern. My lure had just hit the water when I had a fish on. Tim was letting his lure out on the other side when it got slammed too! In no time we had a double header of northern pike. Quickly releasing those fish we again cast the baits behind the boat with fish on immediately. Okay, so we were in a hot bite! I told the boys we would pretend we were salmon fishing with only two trolling lines allowed out at one time. I got the boat back in gear and with my line counter reels I let out 50 feet of line on one side of the boat and 60 feet on the other side. In the next two hours we landed about thirty pike, the biggest landed just before we were going to call it a day. This big fish hit so hard it turned the rod holder in its bracket with friend Al Beaver grabbing it before it could disappear. After a lengthy battle a beautiful healthy 39 inch pike was measured and released. Four other pike were not so lucky. We kept them for delicious supper that evening. It was somewhat surprising what I found in their stomachs when I cleaned them. Their stomachs were loaded with crayfish! Catching these fish was relatively easy thanks to deep diving crankbaits and good electronics. I was able to mark these fish and develop trolling runs using my GPS on my Humminbird 997.
With Don Delorme cooking the fish in Mrs. Dash on a portable butane stove we ended the day happy and content to be with good friends again.
Day two would see us visiting the famous Clear Lake Golf Course and fine tuning some walleye!