Skip to main content

Giant Walleyes on Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba

There's no forgetting the first appearance of an emerald-hued greenback on your line, flipping its massive head side-to-side like an enraged bull.

This is no golden-tinged, cookie-cutter "pickerel" that's typical of so many Canadian waters. You've hooked into the Incredible Hulk unleashing a torrent of rage and power!

That Manitoba's Lake Winnipeg hosts behemoth walleyes is no surprise. The vast Saskatchewan River system, known for growing some of the largest walleyes on earth, flows into Lake Winnipeg and exits northward to Hudson Bay. So the genetics are certainly there for producing outlandish 'eyes. Add in Lake Winnipeg's own fertile environment, and the planets align for trophy walleye production.

//www.in-fisherman.com/files/2017/01/47034.jpg

The iridescent green tinge so prevalent among these fish is apparently not genetic, but is most likely due to the fertile limestone substrate surrounding the lakebed.


Few anglers ply Lake Winnipeg's vast, shallow, windswept waters in summer, due to the lake's massive size and treacherous nature. On a good day, it's no problem. On a bad day--it's perhaps best to remain on shore, and fish twice tomorrow.


Beginning in late September, however, nature throws the odds in your favor. Mega-schools of huge fish begin migrating southward toward the mouths of the tributary Red and Winnipeg Rivers, making fairly predictable runs up toward the dams. The more current flow, the stronger the runs and the larger the numbers of fish. The weaker the current, the more those schools tend to remain in the big lake.

Anglers troll diving crankbaits, or vertically jig large jig & shiner or jig & soft plastic combos along current breaks. In years with strong current flow, greater numbers of fish concentrate in more easily accessible locales. The weaker the current, the more fish tend to remain in the immense main lake.

When winter arrives, some of the best trophy walleye fishing on earth kicks into high gear. Admittedly, things can get mighty frigid, with air temperatures of -30 F not unusual. Early and late winter, however, conditions can be more comfortable.

//www.in-fisherman.com/files/2017/01/IMG_9473.jpg

Ice fishing here requires a systematic grid-search technique, due to the lake's immense size and featureless basin. Proceed offshore, pick a starting point, drill a swiss-cheese pattern of holes, and fish a few minutes. If you don't get bit, move a ¼- mile, drill more holes, and repeat the process. Don't sit and wait, because fish might not pass beneath your holes for hours, days or weeks. Keep moving, drilling, dropping and jigging until you find biters.


The edges of large sandbars or other subtle structures may collect moving fish. Note, too, pressure ridges of buckled ice; those ridges extend as far beneath the ice as they do above, funneling migratory walleyes and baitfish along their paths.

Pick a depth—say 10 feet, and try awhile. Move a hundred yards toward shore, and try again—even as shallow as 5 feet. Or father offshore, out to 12, 15 feet or more. Good areas often have at least a subtle depth change of a foot or so in a hundred yards; in this featureless environment, a seemingly minor change is in reality a major one.

//www.in-fisherman.com/files/2017/01/WinnipegWalleyeJeff.jpg

Go big and bold, lure-wise. Jig lipless crankbaits like Salmo Chubby Darters, Live Target Shiners or Clackin' Raps. Add large softbaits to jigs or multiple minnows to jigging spoons. Clip overhead spins onto jig eyes, add rattles, or attach chatterbait-style vibrating lips. Generate noise and vibration to attract roaming fish from afar. Remember, they're huge; no bait you can fit down a hole is too big for them to eat.


The search element requires teams of anglers on snowmobiles coordinating their efforts to locate active fish. Plus GPS mapping units to form grid patterns, and to safely find you way home in a white-out blizzard. Top-notch clothing to withstand the elements is also a must, plus sleds for towing gear and portable shelters for fishing in nasty conditions.

Lake Winnipeg is the third-largest lake in Canada at 9,400 square miles. Even limiting your search to a tiny portion of the lake is a huge undertaking.

Most ice fishermen originate out of the mouths of the Red or Winnipeg Rivers, or from the town of Gimli along the southwestern shore.

Come spring, nomadic walleyes move up the rivers to spawn, later dispersing back into the immense lake for the open-water season. Longline trolling large diving crankbaits is perhaps the best way to locate and catch them. It's a needle-in-a-haystack adventure, but the potential rewards are incredible--hulkish--and ever so green.

[navionics zoom="7" long="-96.7" lat="50.6"]

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Doug Stange joins Capt. Aron Kastern on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin where they go after whitefish on ice.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Familiar to veteran In-­Fisherman readers and anglers versed in fish sensory abilities.The Book on Bass Accessories

The Book on Bass

Steve Quinn - October 14, 2020

Familiar to veteran In-­Fisherman readers and anglers versed in fish sensory abilities.

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies.The Case for Super Bass (AKA Snakeheads) Other Fish

The Case for Super Bass (AKA Snakeheads)

Steve Ryan - July 06, 2020

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies.

When the leaves start to change colors, so does a walleye's attitudes.Top 3 Fall Spots for Walleyes Walleye

Top 3 Fall Spots for Walleyes

Ross Robertson - October 14, 2020

When the leaves start to change colors, so does a walleye's attitudes.

See More Trending Articles

More Canada

Whether you prefer trout, smallmouth, or carp; Lake Ontario offers options for all of them.Summer Options on Lake Ontario Canada

Summer Options on Lake Ontario

Lonnie King - June 11, 2018

Whether you prefer trout, smallmouth, or carp; Lake Ontario offers options for all of them.

Jackson's Lodge and Outposts operate many of the most sought-after angling destinations within Manitoba.Jackson's Lodge & Outpost Fly In Fishing Canada

Jackson's Lodge & Outpost Fly In Fishing

In-Fisherman - March 06, 2018

Jackson's Lodge and Outposts operate many of the most sought-after angling destinations within...

'The Grand Slam' of local fishing options that keep their guests coming back year after year.Bolton Lake Lodge Manitoba Canada

Bolton Lake Lodge Manitoba

Jeff Simpson - February 12, 2018

'The Grand Slam' of local fishing options that keep their guests coming back year after year.

Ice Fishing Capital of the WorldManitoba Ice Fishing Canada

Manitoba Ice Fishing

Gord Pyzer - January 15, 2019

Ice Fishing Capital of the World

See More Canada

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now