April 03, 2023
It’s the pinnacle of North American sport-fishing collectives; a coveted achievement for which anglers gladly invest time and treasure. The Canadian Grand Slam comprising northern pike, walleye, lake trout, brook trout and arctic grayling beckons anglers near and far; and those fortunate enough to experience this milestone—or trophy catches for any of the member species—return home with tales to last a lifetime.
For authentic reflections, we turned to Manitoba’s top fly-in lodges for a taste of what to expect. Here’s an appetizing snapshot for the Canadian Grand Slam lineup. And just for fun, we added smallmouth bass to the mix.
Starting with the apex predator in Manitoba waters, Shining Falls Lodge, located on Jackson Island, at the upper end of Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park, has recorded enormous catches of up to 46.5 inches. Tobias Becker, who owns and operates the lodge with his wife Ellen, said their guests.
“We get lots of quality fish and 42 to 45 inches is common,” Becker said. “I’m hoping for a 50-inch pike someday and I think that’s possible.”
He said guests enjoy the “easy fishing” during the comfortable conditions found from late May through June, and then August through September, when the local waters of Family Lake cools down. Summer also offers windows of opportunity, particularly when storms activate the fish.
Spoons in the classic red/white color, or the venerable Len Thompson Five of Diamonds spoon work well earlier in the season, before submersed aquatic vegetation becomes too thick. Once the weeds expand, Weedless Johnson Silver Minnow spoons with grub trailers and 12-inch Suicks perform well.
With great numbers of walleye and yellow perch sharing the waters with those giant pike, Shining Falls Lodge offers shore lunches by its namesake water feature. As Becker notes, the lodge’s location within the massive Pimachiowin Aki UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensures protection of the area’s natural splendor and First Nation’s history.
Guests take a float plane ride from Bissett, an historic mining town about 60 miles from the lodge.
More information: Shining Falls Lodge
If you’re yearning for pristine habitat and days spent reeling in one of the tastiest fish in Canadian waters, Kississing Lake Lodge offers some of the province’s finest walleye action. Located in Northern Manitoba, this family owned and operated lodge offers the idyllic setting from which to launch your walleye adventure; and from which to enjoy sharing your big catch tales.
“We’re in a super remote location with beautiful scenery, so it’s a great place to unwind and relax,” said Kississing Lake Lodge Bookings Coordinator Jasmine Stiller.
As she explains, late May through July sees the prime walleye action, while the bite can continue through fall. Guests commonly catch 18- to 24-inchers, with 28-inch trophy class fish making frequent appearances.
Vertical jigging and trolling will keep the rods bent and, while the lodge has a selection of walleye jigs for sale, the minnows are free. Also offering pike and lake trout opportunities, Kississing Lake Lodge provides a family-friendly environment with canoes, kayaks, walking trails and wildlife viewing.
A 25-minute float plane ride from Flin Flon, Kississing Lake Lodge provides transportation from Winnipeg and offers complete lodging and guided fishing packages through its main location. For the ultimate adventure, the lodge offers fly-out trips to exclusive remote outpost lakes, like the whopper walleye wonderland, Tait Lake.
For information: Kississing Lodge
Stay close or choose the remote outpost option; either way, Laurie River Lodge offers some of Manitoba’s most impressive lake trout fishing. Located on a slow flowing tributary of the Churchill River, this owner-operated property sees guests wrangling enormous lakers that thrive in the fertile habitat.
“We do very well on lake trout throughout the summer months, but I have always preferred the middle of June through the middle of July, as that seems to be the most productive for trout over 40 inches in length,” said Laurie River Lodge owner Brent Fleck. “A 47-inch trout is the largest caught here. My personal best is 45. Both fish were in excess of 40 pounds, and both successfully released.”
For numbers, Fleck recommends trolling with large shiny spoons or jigging with 2-ounce jigs. Large tube jigs with bait generally produce fewer bites, but larger trout.
Complementing its main lodge services, Laurie River Lodge offers thrilling getaways to Kamuchawie Lake Outpost. With shallow water bays and sharp drop-offs intersected by open water reefs and islands, the breathtaking natural splendor drapes prime fishing habitat.
We offer direct charter flights from Winnipeg to Lynn Lake, then a float plan trip to the lodge.
More information: Laurie River Lodge
One of the most visually stunning fish in Canadian waters, with its iridescent glimmer, freckled sides and colorful extending dorsal, the grayling packs a lot of punch for its relatively modest size. Ken Gangler, owner of Ganglers North Seal River Lodge, calls late-June through September prime time, as warmer conditions and lower water creates the ideal scenario.
“You’ll find (grayling) in running rivers with good rock structure and deep channels so they can get down in the water column,” Gangler said. “You also want fairly large rocks so they can hide from predators.”
Noting that his lodge holds the provincial record for a 24-inch grayling, Gangler said guests regularly catch quality fish of 14 to 17 inches on a mix of spinners and flies. Other species include big northern pike, lake trout, walleye, and whitefish.
Located 640 miles from Winnipeg, Ganglers North Seal River Lodge enjoys a unique geographic setting with the sub-boreal transitional forest and North America’s largest concentration of sand eskers (long winding ridges of stratified sand and gravel created by glacial movement). With family-friendly diversity, the lodge offers ecotours through these historic caribou migration corridors, along with kayaking, canoeing and local biology lessons.
More information: Gangler’s
Built on a site that once held a mining town, Elk Island Lodge offers a 5-star experience for guests seeking Manitoba’s beautiful brook trout. Surrounded by the 1,151 square kilometer God’s Lake, the lodge caters to a mix of hardcore trophy hunters, families, couples and corporate groups.
Lodge Owner Greg Dick points to June through July as the optimal time for brook trout, with August through September offering good opportunities, as well. While baitcasting or spinner gear is allowed in Manitoba, Dick said anglers do most of their work with a 5-weight fly rod and a mix of streamers, Wooly Buggers and Clouser minnows.
“We don’t really use nymphs and small flies like that, because sometimes, the bigger the fly, the bigger the brook trout,” Dick said. “Average size is 16 to 18 inches. The biggest brook trout caught (from Elk Island Lodge) was 26 inches, which was right around 10 or 11 pounds.”
Lodge guests also catch northern pike, lake trout, walleye, whitefish, and perch.
More information: God’s Lake
An attractive blend of southeastern location and lots of fish-friendly habitat create the perfect storm for a Canadian smallmouth bass bonanza. That’s what guests of Eagle Nest Lodge find, particularly during the May-July peak season.
Jessica Jackson, part of a 50-year family ownership heritage spanning three generations, describes the Eagle Nest Lodge appeal: “The Winnipeg River provides a constant flow of water and there’s phenomenal structure for smallmouth. We have a lot of islands and channels, along with wood and boulders.
While flukes, jerkbaits, topwaters and spinners will tempt smallmouth, Jackson said a tube jig proves most consistent. Eagle Nest Lodge guests can expect good numbers of well-built 16- to 18-inch smallies. (Lodge record is 21 3/4.)
Local waters also hold trophy-size pike and walleye. Most interesting, the Eagle Nest Lodge was built on the foundation of an historic trading post that served the Northwest Trade Route.
Staff from Eagle Nest Lodge transport guests from Winnipeg International Airport to local facilities at either Lac Du Bonnet for float plane trips, or Point Du Buois for a boat ride to the lodge.
More information: Eagle Nest Lodge