Manitoba is a world-class destination for year-round recreational fishing. From well-stocked hardwaters in winter, to a vast network of lakes, rivers and waterways open from spring to fall, there isn’t a season in this province anglers aren’t reeling in trophy-qualifying catches. For some, autumn is the best season of all. Cooler temperatures make for a pleasant experience out on the water as anglers get their last catches in before winter. It’s also one of the top seasons for two of Manitoba’s most sought-after species: walleye and trout.
Whether you call them pickerel or walleye, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: they make for excellent table fare. From pickerel burgers to pan-fried filets, this flaky white fish goes from lake, to pan, to plate with perfection every time. The walleye’s potential size, presence and culinary appeal make it the most sought-after fish in our province. Anglers travel from far-and-wide for a chance at catching a giant Lake Winnipeg Greenback.
Walleye can be caught year-round, but the best time to hook one is spring and fall. They can be found all over Manitoba, with large numbers being caught in Lake Winnipeg, the Red River and the Winnipeg River System. These fish generally favour deeper water in the 20–30 foot range. Whether fishing from a boat or along the shore, be sure to remain in less than 30 feet of water to avoid causing barotrauma, which can harm or kill the fish. We recommend using the Navionics Boating App or Humminbird FishSmart App to estimate depth and narrow-down potential locations.
What is the best rod for fishing walleye? It depends how you want to target them. For jigging, the 6’3” Cabela’s Prodigy® Walleye Spinning Rod is an excellent choice, with medium to medium-light power and an extra-fast action. For an all-purpose walleye rod, try a Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod with a fast action. For trolling, you’ll want something a bit longer, like the 8’ Cabela’s DepthMaster® Trolling rod, with a medium or medium-heavy action.
For your reel, you can’t go wrong with the Cabela’s Verano Spinning Reel. Choose the 1000–2000 size for jigging and the 2000–3000 size for all purpose usage. For a trolling set up, pick a reel with a line counter, like the Cabela’s Depthmaster III Trolling Reel.
Walleye can be caught using a variety of live bait and lures. Minnows, leaches and nightcrawlers are a go-to bait and can be used on jigs or trolled on walleye spinner rigs. The Cabela’s Fisherman Series Round-Head Jig, or the Cabela’s Charter Series Walleye Rig work great with live bait. Crankbaits, like the Cabela’s Fisherman Series Walleye Runner, are also used for luring walleye. When trolled, these can reach a variety of depths. Be sure to use a lure with the appropriate-sized bill to reach the depth you are targeting.
Pro Tip: A favourite technique among tournament anglers is live bait rigging, especially when walleye are light biting or short striking.
Manitoba waterways offer a diverse mix of trout species, including lake, brook, brown, rainbow and tiger. Trout can be a challenging fish to coax bites out of, and they are known to put up a fierce fight for their size. Like walleye, they are a popular table fish, providing flaky pink meat with a distinct flavour.
If you’re looking for a place to start fishing trout, try one of the many lakes in the Whiteshell or Duck Mountain area. Trout can be caught year-round, but the peak times are spring, fall and early winter. They prefer cold, oxygen rich water and will generally seek out similar thermoclines throughout the year, causing them to migrate to deeper water in the heat of summer.
For a rod, try the Fenwick HMX Spinning Rod, paired with 6–8 lb. monofilament. Be sure to choose a flexible rod and line, as hooks can easily be ripped from the soft mouths of trout if too much pressure is applied. Pair with a nice, light 1000–2500 size spinning reel such as the Cabela’s Pro Guide® Spinning Reeland you’ll be well on your way to some meaty trout.
Trout will hit a variety of lures, including crankbaits, spoons, inline spinner and plastics. Try the Cabela’s Go-To Triple Tip Crappie Grub or the Cabela’s Action Tail Hard-Head Tube. If you’re looking for a more relaxed approach, try suspending small minnows and nightcrawler pieces below bobbers. This can be a very effective method when trout are actively feeding. Ensure you check the regulations for the waters you are fishing as many only allow the use of artificial baits. For a memorable experience, try night-fishing with light-up bobbers as trout can be very active throughout the evening.
Pro Tip: Looking for something different? Fly fishing is a very common way to target finicky trout.
We hope you are excited to gear-up for the fall fishing season. With any luck you’ll be able to lay out some freshly caught pan fried walleye or smoked trout just in time for Thanksgiving. Who likes turkey anyway?
Have any questions? Speak with our expert fishing outfitters at your local Cabela’s store or visit cabelas.ca. We’re always happy to help anglers get set up for the season. Tight lines!