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 as stocks decline with a dramatic change in the forage base. Last fall whitefish 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. Then, talking to fisheries personnel, I discovered that rainbow smelt have had a huge die off. This is the primary forage for the fish in the north end of the lake and it shows.
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.