Manitoba offers a remarkable range of fish species that are easily accessible to target at drive-to destinations. Among this long list of places, some of the best are located in the ‘multi-species mecca that is the Eastern Region. Nopiming Provincial Park located in this part of the province, is the ideal place for a weekend getaway to catch a ton of giant smallmouth bass all open water season long. Earlier in July, my friend Spencer Broesky and I spent a few days bouncing around a handful of smallie infested lakes up in ‘The Nope’. In a matter of three days, we fished three different lakes and experienced amazing smallmouth fishing at all of them.
Located about an hour north of Lac Du Bonnet, Shoe Lake sits on the inside edge of Nopiming Provincial Park. It's a relatively small lake, however, it has several nice sized islands within it which makes for easy camping. We used Shoe as home base for our weekend and explored other lakes from there. It’s a huge luxury on these remote lakes to boat out to an island, set up camp, unload all non-fishing gear, and have a nice empty boat to do what you really came for, which is to catch giant fish.
Topwater poppers are truly one of the most fun and exhilarating ways to catch a smallmouth bass. Picture a calm and quiet morning, when all you can hear is the sound of birds chirping and frogs croaking, that is until you twitch your popper and hear the unmistakable plopping sound on the surface of the water. It’s only a matter of time after you twitch, twitch… then boom! The adrenaline of seeing and hearing a big bass attack a topwater, it flying three feet in the air, then the bass jumping in and out of the water time and time again endlessly trying to shake your hook is truly unbeatable.
The first couple hours at daybreak were magical on the water for us. The bass were tucked up shallow in the broken and pebbled rock. With ideal glass calm water in the morning we couldn’t keep them off of our topwater lures. The action was just incredible as we must have caught twenty fish in the first hour of fishing alone.
Our biggest fish of the trip came from underneath a sunken tree that was covering a bunch of small pebbled rock. With a precise cast of my popper within inches of the tree, I slowly popped it right along the side of where the tree entered the water and it only took a matter of seconds before a lunker bass exploded on my bait and I hooked up. Measuring at 18.5 inches, this brute smallie qualified as a Master Angler. The smallmouth bass in Manitoba, especially those in the 18 inch plus category, are pound for pound the best fighters in our waters. The big brown football shaped fish put on impressive fights before you get them to the boat and have made for some of the best fishing I’ve ever experienced.
Drag screaming, rod bent in half, and heart racing double what it’s supposed to make smallmouth bass fishing in the Eastern Region the best way to spend a weekend. You can drive out for just the day, hammer a ton fish, and then drive home again. There are also plenty of options to stay a few days and camp at various designated sites throughout the park. If you decide to go the route that Spencer and I chose by camping on an island and cooking up some delicious stir fry on the campfire, a weekend getaway to one of these remote lakes can be amazingly inexpensive. For those who prefer serviced sites there are campgrounds at Black Lake, Tulabi Falls, and Beresford Lake. For an even higher class experience, there is Nopiming Lodge which has fully furnished cabins for rent. Whether it be an island campout, a campground, or a rented cabin these super accessible accommodations are terrific as a home base to hit up multiple lakes in the area.
Overall, whether it be a one-day trip with the family or a weekend getaway with the boys, the Eastern Region offers unbeatable fishing with incredibly easy accommodations no matter what type of fish you desire to target. In the Nopiming specifically, it is genuinely difficult to find a lake that doesn't have incredible fishing of some sort. Just open a map, pick a lake or two, and go for it. It is quite amazing to say the least that within two hours of Winnipeg you can experience fly-in quality fishing at drive-to destinations.
You really can’t put a price on the smiles, laughs, and memories that a trip like this develops. From Master Angler awards that you can put on the wall, to those memories that stick with you forever, fishing is the healthiest addiction I could have ever asked for.
HuntFishMB Contributor: Marcel Laferriere
For more information about fishing for smallmouth bass in Manitoba visit our Smallmouth Bass page.