HuntFishMB – Eric Labaupa
Until a few years ago, this tributary of Lake Winnipeg was a fly-in destination only. The recent construction of a permanent gravel road that today reaches as far north as Berens River has created vehicle access to the Bloodvein River Lodge. Located just south of the Bloodvein First Nations Reserve, this little known outpost has quietly been providing access to outstanding multi-species angling and nature photography opportunities for many years.
Lodge owner William Young hosted us for a few days earlier this past spring where he showcased fantastic fishing for trophy greenback walleyes, huge channel catfish, and endless schools of white bass. He mentioned that the fall bite for walleyes here was even better than what we were experiencing at the time. That’s all it took to convince me to pencil in a late October trip to get in on the cold water action.
On this fall trip I had with me Brett McComas, Producer of Target Walleye along with his wife Amanda. They were visiting Manitoba from their home base in Brainerd, Minnesota. Looking up our route on Google Maps, it stated we had a three-hour drive on mostly gravel road ahead of us from where we were stationed in Pine Falls. I didn’t recall it being that long of a drive from here the previous trip and I assured them that the term gravel road made it sound worse than it actually was.
After forty minutes travelling north on paved road we made a quick pit stop at the beautiful Manigotagan Falls. Immediately after this town the road turns to gravel. Brett made the hilarious comment not long after that this section was actually smoother than the tarred road that we came off from. After an hour and twenty minutes of easy driving, with the occasional stop to take more pictures of gorgeous river scenery, we arrived at the brand new Longbody Creek boat launch where William was waiting for us. After loading all of our gear into the cargo boat, it was a scenic ten-minute boat ride to the lodge. Brett caught a nice walleye casting off the dock before supper which had us absolutely pumped to get on the water the next morning.
We woke up to rain and winds gusting to 45 km/hr from the northwest. This made our plan of fishing the mouth of the Bloodvein at Lake Winnipeg for greenbacks literally impossible. We set out on two camp boats to check it out. Seeing tall whitecaps crashing over the shallow reefs on the lake had us turn around and head back up river in a hurry. William told us we would target the schools of resident golden ‘eyes further inland instead and perhaps catch some greenbacks that have made their way that far. Travelling through the meandering Canadian Shield river about five kilometres in, we stopped at an area he called Eagle’s Nest. There were in fact dozens of bald eagles soaring along this stretch of river, seemingly unaffected by the hurricane like winds we could see blowing above and swaying the tall pine trees that surrounded us.
Anchoring up in a pool below some small rapids, my guide Isaiah and I almost immediately had a double header of fat 20” walleyes hooked up. Turning around to show off our catch, we observed the other boat with a double header of their own. The action was fast and furious with walleyes ranging from 17” to 23” being caught one after another. While the others were slaying them jigging a salted minnow below the boats, Brett and I caught a bunch casting and pitching plastics all around.
After we had our fill of putting walleyes in the boat, we decided to go ashore and take a hike to see the high side of the rapids. “Bring your rods with you,” William said. We were glad that we did as the pools on this side looked to be textbook river walleye water. We hooked into a handful of chunky walleyes and several northern pike casting into the back eddies and side waters.
After breaking back at the lodge for lunch, we were back at it again in the afternoon. Every section of river that we stopped at we caught fish. Bottle neck areas and anchoring adjacent to rocky outcroppings seemed to be the best places to focus on. Casting smaller sized swimbaits and grubs produced arm jarring strikes as the walleyes were very aggressive in taking the lures. We made note of the colour of each fish as some were dark gold and black, some lighter with a hint of green, and a few that were bright greenbacks fresh from the lake.
Walleye action in the river is fantastic pretty much all of the time we were told. The trophy greenbacks come through the mouth and bay area heavily at ice out to early summer and once again in the fall. Channel catfish can be targeted with great success from spring to September. The massive schools of voracious white bass invade the entire river system from opening day in May to about early July. A good population of smallmouth bass and big northern pike also inhabit these waters, not to mention incidental catches we witnessed of jumbo perch, rock bass, and bullhead. The Bloodvein River is a true multi-species hotspot that you need to experience for yourself.
The lodge is open for bookings during the entire open water season. It is equipped with four separate rooms with double queen-sized beds and shower/washroom facilities in each. The lodge has a laundry room, complete kitchen and dining area, common space with fireplace and satellite TV, wrap around deck with BBQs, and great WiFi. To book a trip, visit their website at Bloodvein River Lodge or email William directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about fishing for walleyes in Manitoba, visit our Walleye page.