“Check this out guys!’ yelled friend Don Delorme. Quickly
moving to the side of the boat to see what all the excitement was about, an
amazing scene was being played out in the water below us. Don had hooked a Lake
of the Prairie walleye and was in the process of bringing it up the water
column, when the afternoon sun illuminated the water to a depth of around two
Wow! A school of big walleye could be seen slashing and swirling at the
fish that Don was fighting. Tim Reid, who was in the front of the boat, was the
only one who had his jig out of the water. Not for long though. Dropping it
down, he immediately hooked one of those fish, another double header of walleye
the order of the day.
This scene has played out many times in my mind since that day a few
years ago. It is one of the few times in my fishing career that I have actually
seen walleye that competitive that they would come to the side of the boat.
Since that trip, Lake of the Prairies has had its ups and downs. Over
the last three years fishing has been “tough” by the lakes usual high
standards, with lots of small walleye less than fifteen inches being caught. Constant
winter drawdowns have had a negative impact on walleye spawning success.
Many of our other lakes, rivers and reservoirs have still been
producing some great fishing. Almost all
of our rivers in Manitoba continue to be very productive, including the Red and
Winnipeg Rivers in the fall time along with the Assiniboine River plus the Whitemud
Why are rivers so productive
in the fall?
If there is any amount of current
flow, many of our baitfish species are attracted. So, for example, there could
be a huge run of shiner minnows up from Lake Winnipeg into the Red and Winnipeg
rivers, followed by ciscoes, tullibees, and the more and more prevalent lake
whitefish. Big walleye, pike, and other top of the line predators like catfish,
gorge on these species. Goldeye and mooneye also enter into the equation. The
quality of the fall run of greenback walleye is then predicated on the number
of forage fish in the system. If there is a lot, then fishing becomes
incredible. For the Red River, there are
a couple of other factors that come into play. One is water clarity and the other
is current speed. If you have the right combination of both (not too dirty and
not too fast) then you some have fishing that is usually lights out. Wind
direction also plays a factor in the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. A big north
wind for more than one day can pile up water and baitfish in both of these
rivers. At mouth of the Winnipeg River in Traverse Bay, you want to be out on
this body of water after the wind subsides after long periods of north winds.
Out on the shallow rocks piles walleyes will be slashing into huge schools of
forage fish that have become disorientated from these winds. I have had many
incredible fishing days like this trolling crankbaits in the two metres of
water on these rocks. This is a fall
pattern worth noting for almost any body of water that you fish on.
Not all anglers have the equipment or experience to have success
trolling but that is not necessary for success. When the fish are scattered
certainly trolling helps but in many cases if the angler can find a spot that
funnels fish like a river mouth, then anchoring can be the most effective
method to present your lure. I have had many great days in the Red and Traverse
Bay just jigging behind the boat. This is especially important when it is windy
and boat control becomes an issue. Having a really good anchor though is
critical to success in bigger water. Traverse Bay can be an extremely tough
place to hold anchor when you get on mud bottom. .
Many of our trout stocked trout waters have been dealing with perch and
pike infestations lately. Those include Perse, Tokaryk and Pybus
in the Parkland region. The fishing for brown trout in Perse is still good
though and on Tokaryk you have to deal with both perch and pike. For those
interested in big rainbows, West Goose is still solid for brown and rainbow
trout while West Blue Lake in the Duck Mountains has been producing brook trout
in excess of 61 centimetres. Laurie Lake, a tough lake to fish in the summer,
should start to get hot once the weather cools. It holds big brown trout, lake
trout and splake.