Those that have spent a great deal of time fishing the waters of the Winnipeg River or have indulged in the age-old trade of fish smoking, are certainly no stranger to Manitoba’s highly prized game fish known as the Mooneye. This shad like species has been a traditional catch for multiple generations and like its close cousin, the Goldeye, it’s a species that has been acknowledged as a favorite Manitoba pastime.
Mooneyes are as interesting as they are mysterious. Like clockwork, they miraculously appear in immeasurable numbers during the early days of August. Regularly inhabiting the seam lines and back eddies off deep current and classic mud bottom bays that are adjacent to main channels. They are prolific bug feeders that congregate in these text book locations to gorge on the timely mayfly, caddis and midge hatches and the odd school of un-suspecting minnows.
Stumbling upon a giant school of hungry Mooneyes is an experience that is rarely comparable. The bite can be remarkably intense, affording every angler armed with a bobber and a worm, the opportunity to enjoy a flurry of non-stop action, heavy hits and a thrilling image of dancing bobbers and anticipated takes. Meet a marauding mass of Mooneyes on a sunny, calm day, and you could be in for a triple digit overload that is simply described as Mooneye mayhem!
When, Where and How?
Mooneyes offer excellent open water opportunities during the months of August and September. Large numbers of Master Angler size fish are consistent throughout the targeted open water months. The minimum requirement is 14 inches with many reaching 15 inches plus. The Manitoba record is 20 inches.
Top producing locations are the Winnipeg and Assiniboine River.
Target Mooneyes on seam lines and back eddies off deep current or riffles and defined mud bottom bays that are adjacent to main channels.Take the time to locate the big schools, observe your sonar for large numbers of suspended fish and take notice to surface disturbance identifying a feeding frenzy. Once located, stay within casting distance of the main school.
Mooneyes are easily caught with a bobber and worm rig. Adjust your depth to find the optimum feeding column, fish it static or allow it to drift on the edge of the current. A fly rod set up is also an excellent choice; micro leeches, caddis, mayfly and midge nymphs are all productive patterns. Fish two flies on a dropper/point system, use a 14 foot, 6 pound test fluorocarbon leader with your dropper fly at the 7 foot mark.
A good fly rod choice is a 10 foot, 4 or 5 weight with a soft tip.Use a matching reel spooled with a 10 foot, sink tip line, make long casts and count down your retrieve until you find the feeding column. A good rod and reel set up is a 6 to 7 foot ultra-light spinning rod with a reel spooled with 6 pound test fluorocarbon.