In Manitoba, we have the number 6 highway, known as ‘The Gateway to the North’ that runs from Winnipeg all the way up to Northern Manitoba before it branches out to all corners of the North. Over the last couple years, I’ve found myself on the number 6 more and more. On this iconic hunting and fishing highway sits a small waterbody that is massively overlooked by the angling community. Trout anglers are so eager and willing to drive west, but sometimes, they forget about the North. From the highway, it doesn’t look like much and that’s why most people just drive by, but the truth is, in Foot Print Lake, monsters lurk. However, although there are big fish in Foot Print, that’s not particularly what intrigued me about it. There’s what I’m calling ‘The Foot Print Four’, which I’ll save the details on for now.
The Trout Adventure Begins
My friend Keevin Erickson and I decided in winter that we wanted to fish Foot Print open water, early season, right after the ice melted. Both of us had fished it in winter, but neither of us had ventured out on Foot Print in a boat, so a few weeks ago in mid-May we did just that. With very little intel on the lake, we decided trolling would be a good starting point simply to try and find some fish and figure out what type of lure would be the ticket. I figured a jerk bait would be a good start, so I tied on a Shadow Rap Shad in a natural silver colour pattern and Keevin started with a #5 Floating Rap.
Due to the size of the lake, you can troll the entire perimeter relatively quick so we just picked a random shoreline and started trolling. It couldn’t have been 15 minutes before my rod got slammed and doubled over, fish on! We were just excited to get a bite that quick, so when we saw that the fish had some weight to it, we were even more excited. Seconds after hook up, the fish surfaced, splashing water all over the place behind the boat. Instantly, we saw a bright orange fish in the teal blue water and we knew we had a big brown or a big tiger trout on. After a short but incredible fight, Keevin scooped the big beautiful brown trout into the net. I knew immediately it was my biggest brown trout ever and almost certainly my first Master Angler brown as well. We put it on the bump board for a quick measurement and sure enough, 21 inches right off the bat. A quick photo and she was gone to swim another day. 15 minutes into fishing and my trip was already made.
After the bonkers brown trout to start the trip off, we continued to troll down the same shoreline. We couldn’t have got more than 200 yards before boom, my rod got slammed again. All laughs, we joked about how fast we were already hooked up on our second fish. Once again, moments after being hooked, the trout broke the waters surface, launching itself a couple feet in the air like an enraged smallmouth bass. This time, a big rainbow is what we saw. Feeling heavy yet again, I battled the fish before Keevin scooped up the gorgeous rainbow trout. A quick photo and measurement and we had our second trophy of the trip at 21 inches. Two species down, two to go.
At this point we figured trolling with the Shadow Rap Shad was the ticket, so Keevin switched to one as well in a different colour pattern and we continued to catch fish left right and centre. Brook trout was the next fish on the agenda, and boy did we catch lots of them. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anything for size associated with them, but it was still a successful third species of trout for our first day on Foot Print.
End of Day One: Northern Lights
Our first day concluded with big smiles and a fantastic sunset. After the sun hit the horizon we headed back to launch to set up camp. The boat launch at Foot Print Lake has a couple small unmarked campsites that are on crown land, so they are first come first serve. Although they are there for public use, be respectful and clean up after yourself. If you aren’t interested in truck or tent camping in the parking lot, there are multiple accommodation options close by such as Moak Lodge or Hobbs Resort. We cooked up some deer back-straps and elk t-bone steaks on the tailgate before we noticed a faint green glow in the sky. We quickly got out to the open highway to see one of the most incredible northern light shows I’ve ever seen. Every direction was lit up by dancing green lights that illuminated the already beautiful night in Northern Manitoba. A magical end to a magical day.
In the morning, we continued with our bread and butter of trolling our jerk baits with one goal; a tiger trout. It was an optimistic goal, primarily because you don’t get to choose what you catch and also because tiger trout are known to be elusive. However, after picking through a handful of brook trout, Keevin’s rod got slammed with a big fish. He fought it for a minute or two before it was close enough to see that it was orange but didn’t look like a brown. Neither of us said anything, but we both had a feeling. I scooped it up in the net and we quickly took a closer look to see exactly what we wanted; a tiger. The Foot Print Four was complete. A brown, rainbow, brook, and a tiger trout all in one trip. Just shy of a Master Angler, we snapped a quick photo and let the big girl swim away to be caught again one day.
The Footprint Four
Having the opportunity to catch all four of those trout in one waterbody is incredible. I didn’t think we had a chance at getting it done with how short our trip was, but we did it. With two of the species featuring a Master Angler size fish and one species only being an inch away, Foot Print Lake made a serious argument for it being one of the best multi-species trout lakes in Manitoba.
For more information about Drive-to fishing opportunities in Manitoba, visit our Drive-To Fishing page.
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HuntFishMB Contributor – Marcel Laferriere