Camping, fishing, and cooking have been ingrained in us since the beginning of time. Once for survival, is now an entertaining pastime easily accessible to all. Across this entire province are amazing campgrounds within a stone’s throw of some of Manitoba’s premier fisheries. All this makes for the perfect weekend getaway. Whether it be you and the family, your friends, or just a relaxing solo trip. These campgrounds make for an excellent home base for your cooking, and serve as a launchpad as you zip out to the lakes and rivers to target your species of choice.
Lake Manitoba Narrows
Recently, we made a road trip into Manitoba’s Interlake region to tackle the famous Lake Manitoba Narrows and its early season walleye bite. The Narrows is truly a Manitoba gem. As you roll in, the first thing that grabs your eye is the huge bridge across the perfectly teal water. This bridge at The Narrows is the only place on the massive Lake Manitoba that is traversed by vehicles. It also separates the South Basin from the North Basin.
To the North of the Narrows is the Fairford river, which is Lake Manitoba’s only outflow. Given that the lake flows north, there is naturally always current flowing through these narrows. The flow of the water can also be influenced by wind direction and will sometimes flow north and south within the same day. It is this current that makes The Lake Manitoba Narrows a hot bed for walleyes, not only in the spring, but all summer long.
The next thing that will grab your attention upon pulling up to The Narrows, is the beautiful Narrows Sunset Lodge. This lodge provides visitors with every amenity they would ever need. Convenience store, restaurant, lounge, patio, hotel rooms, campground, boat launch, marina, beer and liquor vendor, and soon to be gas pumps. There isn’t much this lodge doesn’t have to help make your trip as seamless as possible.
Lundar Beach Provincial Park
On this trip however, we set up our home base out of Lundar Beach Provincial Park. This quiet picturesque park served as the perfect home for us as we explored the fisheries of the Interlake. Lundar Beach is Located on the eastern shores of Lake Manitoba’s South Basin. Great washroom and shower facilities, free firewood and excellent fire pits are just some of the awesome amenities of the park. Not to mention the endless sand beaches, perfect sunsets and your site only meters from the water’s edge.
Lundar Beach is also just a short 45-minute drive to The Narrows, and this served as the perfect day trip for us to get the boat in the water and our lines wet.
Let’s get to Fishing
After making it to The Narrows, we pulled into their well-maintained public boat launch. After launching we pulled away from the dock and headed towards the massive pillars of the bridge. There was a north wind on this day, which was pushing the current under the bridge to the south. We set up shop on the north side of the bridge after finding a small drop off from 12 to 15 feet into the main channel.
One of the main fishing tactics here at The Narrows, is to find your spot, drop the anchor, cast your line and let the current do the work. As we quickly got set-up, we watched a few boats around us already landing fish. Our excitement mounted as we prepared for our first cast.
As I casted my ½ ounce flasher jig paired with a salted minnow into the water, I let the current take the line for a moment to allow my lure to make it to the bottom. Once on the bottom, it was only a matter of a few pops and I got my first tug on the line. In the current the fight was great and it was no doubt the head shakes I was feeling on my line, were those of a walleye. After a quick net job and a unhook, this low 20” walleye was back on it’s way.
It wasn’t long into fishing that Marcel and I knew we were on an amazing bite. As the day went on, we got into walleye after walleye. Not only was the fishing spectacular, but the quality was amazing as well. The average length of walleye we were catching was in the 18”- 24” range. Luckily, we were able to hook into a few smaller eyes that went straight to the live-well. This in preparation for an awesome meal back at camp later in the evening.
The Second Narrows
As the afternoon went on, we were able to catch dozens of walleyes and some bonus freshwater drum and northern pike while anchored in that same spot. We were super satisfied with how the day had gone and decided it was time to go do some exploring. Just a short distance to the north of The Narrows Bridge, is a second set of narrows leading into the bigger water of the North Basin. Our curiosity led us to go check this spot out, as we assumed the walleye were likely stacked up here as well. At these narrows, we found a large sandbar off a small island that dropped into 16ft of water on the main channel.
We set up on this transition and started by casting into the shallows and retrieving back. This yielded many small pike on almost every cast. Switching from that, we began vertically jigging off of the boat in that 8-10ft of water range. Quickly into that Marcel was able to hook into a beauty Lake Manitoba sauger.
Concluding the day
Just following Marcel’s sauger, we got into a sweet little walleye bite at these second narrows. This served as an excellent way to cap off the day, as we made our way back to the launch. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the Lake Manitoba Narrows walleye bite like this a few times. However, for Marcel this was his first glimpse at how good of a fishery The Narrows and Lake Manitoba as a whole can be. There is no doubt we will return here again sometime soon!
Time to Cook
After making the short journey back to Lundar Beach, it was time to spark up the fire and clean up a few walleyes for supper! This is without a doubt one of our favorite parts of these trips. For this meal, we decided to kick it up a few notches and try a simple but delicious walleye stir fry over the fire.
After getting the fire going it only took a few minutes for the oil on the cast iron pan to get to temperature. A quick fry of the fish, then the vegetables and it was time to mix them all together to take on the mouth-watering final form.
After digging in, we sat back in our lawn chairs with full bellies, we enjoyed a relaxing spring evening siting around the fire on the shores of Lake Manitoba, before calling it a night at Lundar Beach Provincial Park.
Walleye Stir fry Recipe:
3lbs walleye fillets
2 tbsp. garlic salt
2 tbsp. black pepper
½ cup teriyaki sauce
½ cup sweet and sour sauce
4 cups mixed vegetables (mushrooms, sliced peppers and onions, baby corn, broccoli)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup butter or margarine
How to Make It
- Cut walleye fillets into 1” cubes. Place into a medium plastic freezer bag. Season with 1 tbsp of garlic salt and black pepper. Shake bag until evenly seasoned.
- Heat 1/2 cup of butter and canola oil in a large cast iron frying pan. Fry walleye cubes until crisp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain excess oil and butter. Put fish aside, keep warm.
- Heat 1/2 cup of butter and canola oil in a large cast iron frying pan. Sauté the mix vegetables until soft. Add 1 tbsp of garlic salt and black pepper, teriyaki sauce and mix thoroughly.
- Add fried walleye cubes to mixed vegetables. Mix in sweet and sour sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Top with hot sauce for extra zip.
Serves 4 people
Rod & Reel
On this trip we kept it simple. We both used 6’6” medium action rod with a spinning reel. This was plenty enough to handle any fish we hooked into.
Line, Tackle and Lure
On our spinning reels we had 10-pound braid tied onto a 6-foot fluorocarbon leader. The visibility at the Lake Manitoba Narrows isn’t amazing, but it’s not bad. We figured two- or three-feet of visibility for sure, so we made a point to keep the fluoro leader longer than that.
For tackle and lure we kept it pretty simple as well. For the majority of the day we found our success using ½ ounce flasher jigs paired with a salted minnow. We tried swimbaits as well, but during our time on the water, salties worked far superior.
The current at The Narrows often varies from day to day. It is crucial when fishing here that your jig gets to the bottom. Depending on the current of the day, you may need to explore different weights of jigs to ensure you are getting down there. Finding the balance of the right weight without overdoing it, will certainly help your success targeting these walleyes.
At The Lake Manitoba Narrows there is always current pumping under the bridge. Naturally this attracts all levels of the food chain. For us, our technique was pretty basic. We set up shop on the side of the bridge that the current was coming from. In our case this was the north side. We then moved back and forth along the bridge using the sonar, to find any bit of structure we could. Once we found what we were looking for. We positioned the boat in a way so that when we threw the anchor out, the boat would stay stationary just off of the structure.
Once positioned, we pitched our jigs towards the structure. We let the current take the line for a few seconds until contact with the bottom was made. After this we tightened up the line, kept the rod tip up and repeatedly popped the lure off of the bottom on spot. The current moving past the jig and minnow made the presentation look very natural. It was only a matter of time at this point until one of the feisty walleyes slammed our presentation.
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