When it comes to ice fishing in Northern Manitoba, it’s no secret that Wekusko Falls Lodge is the staple drive-to hard water destination. With easy access to several legendary lakes in the nearby area, owner Bryan Bogdan continues to push the boundaries of what the term “big fish” means in Northern Manitoba. With unique experiences such as trout and pout, night-bites, and once a lifetime big fish opportunities, Wekusko Falls Lodge is the ultimate ice fishing experience. I recently had the opportunity to head up to Wekusko at late ice in the middle of April with a group of friends and the goal for our group was simple: Giant everything. We wanted multiple species, and we wanted big.
Ice fishing in Northern Manitoba opens a door to some incredible walleye fisheries and some of the best are in arms reach of Wekusko Falls Lodge. You can drive multiple directions from the lodge and catch trophy walleye. Although catching giant golden walleye through the ice sounds amazing on its own, it gets even better. Over the years, Bryan has worked hard at learning the walleye in his lakes not only when the sun is high, but also once the lights go dark. According to Bryan, on some lakes, the night-bite has proven to be even more successful than in the daytime. This was an experience I personally could not pass by.
It varies for each lake, but typically Bryan likes to head out an hour or two prior to the sun hitting the horizon. Not far from the lodge, one night, myself, Bryan, and my friend Ryan headed out in search of gold. Within minutes of Bryan picking a spot, we were marking fish left right and centre. We caught eaters immediately and it wasn’t long before I marked an enticing looking mark on my graph. All it took was a few jiggles of the small spoon I was using and bang, fish on. As it neared the hole we saw the beautiful gold dorsal of the legendary Manitoba golden walleye. This gorgeous walleye was the beginning of an incredible week.
Just after the sun went down, not long after I released my last walleye, I heard a shout from the other side of the quad where Ryan was fishing, “Big! Giant! Huge!” I ran over and grabbed the transducer out of the hole to see Ryan’s rod completely bent in half from what is likely a trophy walleye. Head shake after head shake the tension grew as we knew what was down there. After a short but savage fight, the big girl showed herself to us and came perfectly up the hole. Everyone was smiles and cheers as we snapped a quick photo and released it down the hole to be caught again one day. Fish like this really remind you why walleye are such an iconic fish to target. Big, bold, and beautiful, it’s one of the most desirable fish to chase for good reason.
Trout and Pout
Among the angling opportunities at Wekusko Falls Lodge, one very unique option has become increasingly popular. Known as “Trout and Pout”, anglers can target the legendary lake trout and the feisty burbot (or eel pout) on the same spots, and often even out of the same hole. The group I was fishing with for the week had some hardcore burbot anglers, and they really proved that. My friend Jason, one of the most dedicated burbot anglers I’ve ever met, put a smackdown on trout and pout like I’ve never seen before. Everyone was catching but Jason simply couldn’t keep them off his line. 30 inch burbot after 30 inch burbot he pounded the fish all afternoon. Then, every once in a while, boom, a gorgeous lake trout out of the same hole. It was a perfect representation of why people love trout and pout. This is ice fishing in Northern Manitoba at its best.
Like the walleye at Wekusko, anglers also have the opportunity to chase burbot at night. One night our whole group went into a gorgeous back lake for the night bite and pounded the burbs under the stars. It’s hard to explain the experience of sitting on the ice, in the middle of a lake, in the dead of the night with no sound around you except the laughter of your buddies having a good time and the sound of drag being tortured as you pound fish. Night fishing encapsulates a level of camaraderie that is truly remarkable. You can just tell by the way people smile, laugh, and joke around with their friends that they are trying to soak up every minute of the night so they can cherish those moments forever.
One of the highlights of my trip came on the trout side of the trout and pout phenomena. We were fishing a reef in the middle of the lake that had burbot, but definitely leaned toward the trout program. Everyone was catching fish, but the morning was made when Jason hooked up to what he knew was a big fish. Hollering that he was hooked up with something big, we all ran over to see what he had. For the people who have never caught a lake trout before, trust me when I say, you know very quickly if you have a lake trout on your line. Jason’s rod was bent in half, tortured under the stress of a big fish, and giant run after giant run his drag screamed in pain. After a typically aggressive fight, Jason guided the head of the trout up the hole and Bryan safely landed it. The smile, excitement, and adrenaline that Jason experienced after catching what I later learned was the biggest trout he’s ever caught, made my trip. That peak moment of adrenaline and irreplaceable camaraderie with your best friends is what drives us as anglers to do what we love.
Ice fishing in Northern Manitoba is a one of a kind experience, and Wekusko Falls Lodge is the icing on the cake. There aren’t many ice fishing destinations you can drive to and successfully target trophy walleye, pike, lake trout, and much more. The drive to aspect not only gives accessibility but affordability as well. The bang for your buck at these drive to destinations is remarkable. From the meal plan options to beautiful renovated cabins to the incredible resource that is Bryan Bogdan, you truly can’t go wrong with Wekusko Falls Lodge.
Top 5 Trip Tips
If you’re going to make the trip up to a destination such as Wekusko Falls Lodge, you want to make sure you have the right gear for the job. From my experience, here are the top 5 things you want to have packed for a trip up north.
1. Headlamp: A headlamp is a key piece of equipment for any outdoors expedition but it’s worth increases tenfold when night-fishing is on the menu. As my buddy Aaron Wiebe always says, “Don’t be that guy” who doesn’t bring one.
2. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are an absolute must for long days on the ice. They are critical for all trips, but even more important for late ice when the sun is bright and the days are long. They make the day a lot easier in terms of fatigue and also provide a great safety barrier between your eyes and flying objects like hooks or ice.
3. The right fish handling tools: Multi-species trips require the right tools. When out of one hole you can catch an eater size walleye or a giant lake trout or pike, you need the right tools for each job. If that means you have 4 different pliers for the day, then so be it. You wouldn’t take a knife to a gun fight so don’t take miniature needle-nose pliers into the mouth of a 40+ inch pike. Always think “Fish First”.
4. Lures that glow: We night fished a few times on our trip and it was unanimous among the group that glow lures were quintessential to our success. Even at dusk and dawn when that sun isn’t high in the sky, if you’re fishing deep enough it’s hard to know how much light is really entering the water column so glow lures are a great tool to have in your arsenal.
5. Spoons: If you only had one lure you could bring, a spoon is a great option. At one location, out of one hole, I caught 6 species of fish on one lure. Walleye, pike, lake trout, whitefish, perch, and a sucker were tricked by one spoon. The spoon I was using was a 1/4Oz Northland Glo-Shot spoon, but that’s just personal preference.
For more information on ice fishing at Wekusko Falls Lodge, visit the Wekusko Falls Lodge website.
Checkout our HuntFishMB ice fishing page for more ice fishing destinations in Manitoba.
Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by Wekusko Falls Lodge, who did not review or approve this story.
Written by: Marcel Laferriere