To many anglers in Manitoba, the arrival of fall illicits thoughts of chasing endless greenback walleyes. Battling feisty super-sized trout activated by the quickly dropping water temps or cherry picking plump smallmouth bass off of deep humps are top of mind as well. The autumn transition period however, isn’t commonly associated with being a trophy northern pike window of opportunity. On Lake of the Prairies in Manitoba’s Parkland Region, late open water is one of the prime periods for a chance at the pike of lifetime.
Once water temperatures dip down into the 50s, the larger pike in this system begin to congregate in predictable areas on the lake. Beginning around mid-September and going well into October, huge northerns can be caught in numbers on various sections of this reservoir. Focusing efforts on shallow flats in front of the many subtle creek mouths can result in multiple Master Anglers pulled from one spot. Shoreline rip rap areas on the lake will hold toothy giants tight to shore also.
On a recent trip we set out for Lake of the Prairies with strictly catching big time pike in mind. Our good friends Matt and Derek had fished the lake the day before and hooked into several pike in the mid-40s with numerous 37 inch plus. We were excited to say the least. We had confidence in an arsenal consisting of large swimbaits, all manner of spoons, and an assorted collection of smaller musky lures to get the job done. Leaving the walleye rods at home, we armed up with medium-heavy to heavy 7 foot rods to match our expected quarry. Our reels were spooled up with 30lb to 50lb test braid attached to titanium or heavy fluorocarbon leaders.
Arriving on the water at daybreak, we putted through the fog with eager anticipation to get to a shallow flat we knew was holding good numbers of big fish. Parking the boat in five feet of water, we began fan casting lures 360 degrees around the boat waiting to get thumped with every wind of the reel. It didn’t take long before the silence was broken by the thunderous splash of a decent sized pike attacking my topwater Zara Spook.
It was an action filled morning as we hooked into numerous aggressive high 30s fish. Just when we began to bemoan the fact that we hadn’t caught a Master Angler 41" minimum yet, Justin set the hook on one that bent his rod over in half. After a tail walk and a couple line screaming runs, we had a massive 46” northern in the cradle.
The water clarity was relatively murky as the steady wind was stirring it up pretty good. Bright silver and yellow spoons ended up being the most effective lures that day. We also caught a few on small Jakes and on swimbaits. Aside from the one monster, we boated three northerns that were just short of 40 inches and another dozen or so that were 35” to 38”.
True beasts hitting the high 40s swim in this body of water. A chance at a rare 50 inch behemoth is also possible here at this fantastic drive-to destination. Access can be located at several boat launches along the lake from Assessippi Provincial Park at the south end, Pyott’s West Campground mid-lake, to Ricker's Campground further north near Roblin. A surprisingly underrated fishery for trophy northerns, Lake of the Prairies may just have you thinking differently about fall fishing if you give it a shot.
For more information on fishing for pike in Manitoba, visit our Northern Pike page.