July 05, 2022
By David A. Brown
We all need those therapeutic getaways where complete detachment from stress and worry comes by way of endless natural splendor, rod-bending revelry, and relaxed reflection. Manitoba offers several such indulgences with drive-to fishing lodges ideally positioned for this angling therapy.
The Canadian Shield—exposed Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks—impacts the landscape with a rugged beauty that does great things for the fishing opportunities. With a smattering of lakes small and large ensuring diversity of habitat and species, anglers can sample the menu or focus on their faves. Shield lakes are plentiful and beautiful, but they represent only a portion of the unique landscape and diverse fisheries that exist across Manitoba—many of which are 100% accessible via paved roads. The opportunities are truly endless.
Additional access options might include a short float plane trip or maybe an ATV ride through a picturesque landscape avails another species or a new backdrop for trophy catch photos. Lots to see during a day on the water. But there is absolutely world-class fishing right out from the docks at most drive-to fishing resorts and lodges—and you won't have to get gravel-road dust on your boat or gear.
Here’s a sampling of where you’ll find your natural nirvana.
Diverse habitat, breathtaking wilderness and spectacular fishing; that’s a pretty strong combination and Matthew Wiens said that’s just what attracts visitors to his family’s lodge.
“In the lake system here, from one lake to another, it’s a very significant geological change,” Wiens said. “From the granite rock of the Canadian Shield, you go into the next lake over and it’s mostly a limestone system. There are also some interesting multi-colored rock overlooks.
“The main targets here are walleye, northern pike and lake trout. This area offers the chance to catch a trophy in all of those species within a 10-minute to a half-hour boat ride, that’s pretty incredible fishing.”
Dating back to the 1940s, the lodge sits on the Grass River, which served as an integral element of the trading routes of yesteryear. As he points out, the river has long been a popular destination for paddlers. In fact, with the lodge situated at the headwaters of the Grass River (the Cranberry Lakes, particularly Third Cranberry Lake), these waters extend up to Hudson Bay.
Welcoming guests who bring their own boats or rent those onsite, Viking Lodge offers 16 fully equipped lakeside cabins with kitchenettes and barbecues. There’s also an RV park with 18 full-service sites.
“What’s nice about this area is that once you get out on the water, you’re in an untouched territory,” he said. “There are some other cabins on our end of the lake, but once you get past that, you’re not seeing any other cabins. Once you leave here, you’re in the wild.”
Wiens said most clients bring their own tackle, but the onsite store carries a broad selection of locally applicable items. The fishing at Viking Lodge follows the generally expected techniques, but the bait/tackle store keeps a good inventory of specific baits, colors, etc. that have proven successful.
“Overall, our facility is more geared toward the do-it-yourself guy, but we do have guide services available,” he said. “We try to accommodate whatever a guest needs.”
Some visitors fly into Winnipeg, which is about 450 miles south, then some may hop a local flight into Flin Flon and make the final 20-minute drive to Viking Lodge. For the most part, however, guests drive from their homes with boats in tow, or perhaps rent a car from Winnipeg and enjoy the scenic 7 1/2-hour drive north. The best part is it's 100% pavement.
More information about Viking Lodge
C/O Matthew Wiens
P.O. Box 190
351 Public Rd SE
Cranberry Portage, MB R0B 0H0
Phone: (204) 472-3337
Paint Lake Lodge
Anglers who visit Paint Lake Lodge will enjoy a pleasant mix of quality and quantity. Just ask Kathy Ruiter, who runs the lodge along with her husband Barry.
“We definitely have trophy pike, but for walleye, we’re not so much a trophy lake, we’re a numbers lake,” Ruiter said. “We’re a high-quality management lake, so you can’t keep any walleyes over 21.5 inches, so that we maintain those good numbers.”
Located within Paint Lake Provincial Park, the lodge benefits from geological splendor. Easy on the eyes, it’s also pretty awesome for the fishing.
“We’re on the Canadian Shield so there’s lots of rocks and reefs,” she said. “Also, Paint Lake has a whole bunch of other lakes around us. So, in Paint Lake, you can fish for pike and walleyes and in a lake 5 minutes from us, you can fish for smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and speckled trout and splake. Then, in another lake 5 minutes from us, we have lake trout.”
Guests will find comfortable accommodations with a full lodge building, 150-seat lakefront restaurant and a selection of recently renovated cabins, with a couple of new ones. A full-service bait and tackle shop offers the right tools for local fisheries, while a detailed lake map shows the hot spots and offer an orientation—as much for fishing and for navigational safety.
On the water, Paint Lake keeps it flexible with guided or self-guided fishing options. Likewise, private boats are welcome in Manitoba’s largest marina (250 slips), but you’ll also find tiller, side console and pontoon rentals. The lodge has gas on land and water, along with a full power sports mechanic shop.
Located 20 minutes south of Thompson, the lodge is a short drive from the Grass River’s well-known Pisew Falls. And if hunting’s your fancy, Ruiter said Paint Lodge can arrange a bear hunt with a local outfitter.
Paint Lake Lodge offers several accommodation options from a 4-bedroom bunkhouse, to a mobile home to hilltop cabins with full kitchens, decks, barbecues and fire pits.
The drive from Winnipeg is a straight shot up Highway 6, but a local flight into Thompson leaves a much shorter route.
More info about Paint Lake Lodge
Paint Lake Lodge
C/O Kathy Ruiter
Thompson, MB R8N 1N1
Phone: (204) 677-9303
Bakers Narrows Lodge
Nearby Flin Flon, Manitoba was founded in 1927 as a mining town to exploit local deposits of copper and zinc ore. So, it seems fitting that nearby Bakers Narrows Lodge holds its own treasure of natural resources. Considered to offer some of the finest lake trout fishing on the planet, it is a perfect destination to capture a Master Angler laker—among other species. Bring your own boat or rent one, both will put you on course to tangle with big fish.
“The main species are lake trout, walleyes and pike on Lake Athapapuskow, but nearby lakes hold brook trout, lake trout and smallmouth bass,” said Lodge Manager Peg Baynton. “Guest that want to fish some of the other lakes can fly out on a float plane for day trips. A new twist for us—we offer tours where people take ATVs into the lakes, where people fish for the day and then come back."
Complementing the stellar fishing, which has yielded impressive catches—including a 64-pound laker—Bakers Narrows offers guided hiking tours that explore local limestone cliffs.
“We’ve partnered with Flin Flon for guided tours of the city where guests learn the history of the mining there,” she said. “They stay here and do the limestone cliff tour.”
A family-friendly property with the facilities to accommodate corporate retreats, Baker’s Narrows offers a variety of outdoor activities from kayak rentals, to fat-tire bike tours, to photo safaris. Accommodation options include micro cottages with adjacent washroom facility and full-size log cottages with kitchenettes, covered porches and private fire pits.
Baynton said guests are welcome to bring their own tackle or rent what they need onsite. Personal boats are also welcome, but guide services are available as well.
Flying to Winnipeg and then continuing on to Flin Flon leaves only a half-hour drive. Again, many guest will haul their personal rigs north to Bakers Narrows Lodge, which is a 7 1/2-hour drive north of Winnipeg—all pavement.
More information about Bakers Narrows
C/O Brett Baynton
Hwy 10 South
Flin Flon, MB R8A 1N1
Phone: (866) 603-6390