January 17, 2018
It is no coincidence that the center of North America, geographically speaking, runs right through Manitoba. You'll find the finest freshwater fishing opportunities in the world focused on the province as well.
I like to think of Canada as a string of exquisite pearls, with Manitoba as the centerpiece, the pride and joy, the biggest, brightest and boldest jewel.
It is where Canada's fishing heart beats.
Part of the reason for the magnificent fishing - there are more than 100,000 lakes in Manitoba - is the fortuitous fact that the Canadian Shield and prairie ecosystems mix, merge and blend in the province. So, you can find the best of all possible worlds. Phenomenal fishing for lake trout, northern pike, brook trout and walleye, in picture postcard surroundings, and yet, the fertility that makes Manitoba the bread basket of the world.
There is nowhere else on the continent where this fish-formulating recipe blends together so perfectly. It is why Manitoba is renown for producing both numbers of fish and huge sought-after trophies. And get this: you can drive to as many of the splendid fisheries as you can fly into them.
Case in point: is there a walleye angler anywhere who hasn't dreamed of fishing Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Prairies, Manigotagan Lake, Tramping Lake, Lake Athapapuskow, or the Red River, Winnipeg River or Waterhen River? You can drive right to them.
Then, again, how you do not consider flying into walleye factories like Aikens Lake, Bolton Lake, the North Seal River or Gunisao Lake where one-hundred walleye days are common and almost half the guests, each season, go home after wrestling at least one Master Angler Award winning walleye into the net.
Talk about being blessed with an abundance of riches.
It is no easier a task trying to sort through the outstanding options for lake trout, brook trout, arctic grayling and my personal favorite, northern pike.
I remember several years ago, flying into North Star Resort on Knee Lake, at the same time that soft plastic swimbaits were arriving on the fishing scene. I wanted to test the, then, big bass technique on northern pike, and write up the results for In-Fisherman Magazine.
What I discovered was incomprehensible.
As an outdoor writer I am never supposed to be lost for words, but I found myself grasping to adequately describe how Knee Lake's enormous pike mauled and devoured the soft plastic paddletails. Words like exceptional, superb, wonderful and amazing just didn't seem to do justice.
It also highlighted something else that has always delighted me about fishing in Manitoba. The lodge owners, guides and tourism folks are fish heads like you and me. So, if you're visiting a resort for your first ever fly-in fishing trip with family or friends and just want to have fun, everyone will go out of their way to show you the ropes and treat you like royalty.
On the other hand, however, if you are eager to learn a new technique, or on a mission like I was at Knee Lake, yearning to hook knee-knocking northerns on swimbaits, you will typically find the lodge owners and skilled guides to be up-to-date with the latest in tips, tricks and state-of-the-art techniques. They will bust their butts to meet your agenda and put you into secluded spots where the big fish roam.
Trust me, it is not like this in so many other parts of the continent.
It is important to remember, too, that Manitoba is where the modern catch-and-release, high quality angling ethic was born, on renown waterbodies with legendary names like Nejanilini, Big Sand, Munroe and Neultin, where the all-time Manitoba Master Angler Lake trout was caught and released in 2001. The 54-inch mastodon weighed almost 60-pounds, so imagine how big it is today.
And I can't mention Munroe Lake without feeling my heart skip a beat and my legs get woozy. I fly fished there for the wildest, thickest, heaviest, hardest fighting arctic grayling that I have ever seen and soaked up the experience of a lifetime.
By pure coincidence, I'd brought along, as reading material, a current copy of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame record book catches. Imagine my surprise, when I opened up the book as our pontoon plane lifted off the water on our flight back to Winnipeg, flipped to the section highlighting the arctic grayling records and saw that many of the fish I had just caught and released were new line class world records.
Manitoba - it is where Canada's fishing heart beats.
Manitoba Master Angler Award Program
For years, Manitoba has operated the highly popular and unique Master Angler Award program that recognizes anglers with certificates and medal badges for catching trophy size fish. But the program also serves another useful purpose, helping would-be trophy anglers focus in on the province's top producing lakes and rivers. The online data base is totally intuitive, so you can type in your favorite fish and then see where, when and how many Master Angler Award winners have been entered over the years. Here is the link to the program: huntfishmanitoba.com
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Manitoba Fishing Map
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