| Friend Al Beaver with his Manitoba Master Angler!|
This great fall weather in southern and central Manitoba
recently has been a boon to anglers wanting to get out on the water. On a trip
last week to the Waterhen River with a group of friends, we had two days of
flat calm and bright sun. Usually this can make the fishing somewhat difficult
but with plenty of fast flowing water in both the Waterhen and West Waterhen
River the fish were still hungry. Staying at Harvest Lodge, we were only a
short drive from both rivers. The lodge is located just south of the town of
Waterhen and caters to both anglers and hunters. Having never fished the area,
the lodge owner, Jon Warkentin took the time to explain the lay of the land, which included a
map of the Waterhen River south.
Harvest Lodge does rent out boats plus they have two boat launches.
| Launching just south of the lodge|
For larger boats like mine, he recommended that we launch just down the road at another access that he rents for just that purpose. This launch was easy to use with lots of room to park. Navigating the river to avoid some prop damage is another story however.
Jon had warned us about the rocks in the
river and after launching it took me about five minutes to hit my first one.
This was a valuable lesson early, telling me to just take it easy while
travelling. We slowly headed south to mouth of the river, were it empties into
Lake Manitoba. Here the main channel was somewhat deeper than the other
portions of the river. The current in this section was also very swift, which
meant we couldn’t even keep a 3/8 ounce jig to the bottom while anchored. Luckily
we could use crankbaits to both cover water and get to the right depth.
| Don Delorme's Master Angler walleye|
found by trolling Number Seven Flicker Shads into the current, we could get the
lure in the fish zone for longer periods of time. Combined with line counter
reels, we adjusted the baits so they ran just above the bottom, in this case
just over two metres. This was critical in keeping vegetation fouls to a minimum. Bottom bouncers and spinners would also work in this water, as well as drift jigging.
| Tim Reid with a West Waterhen fish|
By paying attention to all of these details,
we were able to catch a number of beautiful walleye from 60 to 74
centimetres with two fish passing the Master Angler mark from my friends Al Beaver and Don Delorme. Both were caught on the Golden Shiner pattern that has been a hot lure of mine for four years now. I can remember this lure catching a ton of greenbacks on the Red River three years ago when nothing else was working.
As the sun slowly dipped,
numerous ducks and geese filled the sky in this remote country. Then it was time for some fresh walleye!
On day two we headed north just up the highway on Provincial
Road 276 to the Skownan First Nation. Here we stopped at the local gas station
and paid our $10 fee per angler to access the boat launch on the West
Waterhen. As we arrived at the river,
one other boat was getting ready to back in. Striking up a conversation, the
two anglers from Swan River offered advice on where to fish, plus a piece of
information that turned out to be critical to our safety. They warned that
south of the bridge, just upstream, were two pieces of steel and cement used as
ice breaks to protect the bridge. They
offered to wait for us to launch and we followed them between these two
dangerous obstructions. Thanks guys for that help!
| Al with a friend|
The West Waterhen is deeper than the Waterhen, so we were
able to get the boat on plane after that and head out to the start of the river
where it empties out of Lake Winnipegosis. Here we found another boat fishing
this expansive area. By trolling
upstream and drifting downstream we soon found that the walleye were stacked in
this section. I even caught a nice freshwater drum that put up a great
battle. While we only fished a couple
sections of the river, the anglers we talked to said the fishing in most
sections was very good. All in all in
was a special trip to a section of Manitoba I had never fished. From Winnipeg we
had taken Highway # 6 and after turning on Provincial Road #328 we saw numerous
black bears along the way. Just a note, if you don’t want to travel 70
kilometres of gravel, take the Highway north from Ste. Rose du Lac, it is paved
all the way up to Waterhen.
| A special trip with a bunch of life long friends from across the country!|
ANGLERS NOTES: While
Waterhen Lake is commercially fished, it's one of the two freshwater lakes in
the world to be Eco certified.
Commercial fishers on the lake only use gill nets during the winter and
closely manage their harvest to make it sustainable.
For those anglers looking for a trip a bit closer to home,
the Red River has been relatively quiet so far as far as the greenback walleye
run is concerned. In the last few years the run has not started until the first
week in October which means anytime now! Pine Falls has been providing pretty
consistent fishing over the last two weeks.