HuntFishMB – Eric Labaupa
Ice fishing opportunities are practically endless in Manitoba. From one end of the province to the other, there is no shortage of prime hardwater spots to drop a line in during the winter season. To showcase the diverse fisheries and world-class angling we have here in the heart of Canada, we embarked on yet another Epic Tour of Manitoba Ice Fishing Destinations. In this third installment of the series, we traversed the province from the Parkland at our western border making our way east to mighty Lake Winnipeg in the Interlake Region.
Joining me on this trip was Nick Lindner of Angling Buzz and Brett McComas of Target Walleye. On this epic tour we ended up drilling holes on six different bodies of water squeezed into five days of ice fishing. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate as a massive cold front and a few days of high winds followed us across the province, yet we were still able to hook into a pile of fish during the trip as a whole.
Located a stone’s throw from the Saskatchewan border in the Parkland Region, Twin Lake is famous for being home to the province’s top tiger trout fishery. The unique brown trout and brook trout hybrids that inhabit this stocked lake are renowned for being highly aggressive and full of energy. Located just off of Highway 83 north of Roblin, the lake is easily accessible with fishing spots within walking distance of the landing.
Accompanying us on this leg was Robert Karpiak of Hooked Magazine. Making the four hour drive out from Winnipeg, we arrived at the Stay Easy Inn in Roblin the night before. Eager to hit the ice we were up and out the door drilling holes before sunrise. We chose to fish out of sight holes inside our pop-up shelters over five feet of water under the ice. Robert hooked into the very first fish we saw after it circled around our lures for a bit. Once the feisty 22.25-inch Master Angler was in the net, he had a new personal best tiger trout under his belt. We ended up seeing well over a dozen fish of varying sizes swim up and inspect our offerings but we didn’t get any more bites the rest of the day.
The largest lake in Riding Mountain National Park, Clear Lake is home to a variety of species including walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and whitefish. A hugely popular summer resort destination, winter activities including ice fishing also draw visitors in from far and wide to this wild and picturesque park.
To fish here, anglers are required to purchase National Park licences and abide by special regulations such as no lead tackle. We obtained day licences at Elkhorn Resort before accessing the ice on the north side of the lake. Walking out with only our rods and an electric auger we began our search for active schools of whitefish only steps from the parking lot. With the water being crystal clear we were able to look down the holes while we enticed chunky whitefish after whitefish to bite our shiny jigging spoons. Occasionally a sleek northern pike would cruise by focused solely on the hundreds of whitefish that they were gorging on in this shallow water.
Just one of dozens of stocked stillwater trout lakes in the region, Corstorphine Lake is home to Master Angler sized rainbow trout. Located just southwest of Riding Mountain, we made a stop at this small out of the way lake hoping to get on a late afternoon bite.
Speaking with some anglers who were set-up near the landing they shared that the bite was slow with only a few iced earlier in the morning. Deploying our snowmobiles for the first time this trip, we targeted some prime looking points on the other side of the lake from the launch. I hooked into a promising fish at one point but dropped it after a short fight. As is often the case with trout fishing through the ice, if they are not in the mood it is tough to get them to bite anything. As such we left this lake as the sun was going down with no fish to show for it.
The second largest lake in the province, Lake Manitoba has been a long-time ice fishing hub of activity. Fished both commercially and sport, anglers here can target burbot, walleyes, northern pike, tullibee, and yellow perch through the ice. Access points include Steep Rock and Waterhen on the northern arm and The Narrows at the centre of the lake. The southern basin has popular access points at St. Laurent, Twin Beach, and the Delta Beach area.
We spent a night at the Days Inn in the town of Portage la Prairie which is a short drive from the southern shore of the lake. HuntFishMB contributor Chris Chorney joined us on this leg of the trip. Launching our sleds out of Delta Beach, we focussed on shallow water areas near shore leap-frogging from spot to spot. We eventually hit on a productive area at 6 feet under the ice as we were able to get a pile of prairie gold walleyes topside. Chris then went searching again and found a massive school of tullibee slightly further east.
The famous Red River is a hardwater hotbed throughout the winter season. Almost the entire length of this waterway sees ice fishing action including the stretch just north of the U.S border, areas in and around the City of Winnipeg, and certainly the well-known Red River North area. Trophy greenback walleye are the main target species although huge northern pike, schools of feisty sauger, and even cold-water channel catfish can be caught.
Staying at the Canalta Hotel in Selkirk, we winced at the forecast of 50km/hr wind gusts out of the north with blowing snow. Plans to venture onto Lake Winnipeg for the morning bite were nixed in favour of getting some added rest after going at it hard the previous three days. We still hit the Red as planned in the afternoon however setting up shop on a deeper hole just north of town. Targeting suspended walleyes that frequent the area we saw plenty of huge marks on our sonars. We were only able to hook into a few smaller greenbacks and saugers though as the bigger marks would only occasionally follow or just ignored our lures completely.
We fished the mouth of the Red River on this trip to the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. A popular area for good reason, we were after a hot Master Angler greenback bite that has been on since the beginning of the season. Other areas of the lake have been consistent this winter for bigger numbers of smaller walleye but we were after big ones on this last day of the trip.
We headed out with Todd Longley of CityCats Guiding Service travelling comfortably in his ‘Ice Ridge Reaper’ tracked van. The fresh snow and drifts from the day before were a non-issue as we made our way to the mouth driving in a perfectly straight line out of the Warner Road access. The bite was tough for the most part as many marks on the graph were non-committal all day no matter how much we moved around. We iced half a dozen 18-20 inchers and one fat 28-inch greenback.
For more information on fishing for the species we targeted on this adventure, visit our What You’ll Catch page.
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