Family Friendly Fishing Vacation at Lac Du Bonnet!
The Winnipeg River system, in Manitoba’s Eastern Region, is a vast waterway stretching from Manitoba’s east border across the Canadian shield leading into Lake Winnipeg, where it drains.
Throughout the river are a number of lakes widely popularized for their diverse multi-species fishing. Of these lakes, one of the most popular is the Lac Du Bonnet. This massive stretch of the Winnipeg river offers endless kilometers of navigable water including both the Lee River and Bird River tributaries. The town of Lac Du bonnet sits along the picturesque banks of the Winnipeg River right on the boundary of the boreal forest and prairie farmland. This amazing location makes for a four-season recreational playground.
Granite Recreational Park
Recently, Marcel and I made the short drive into Manitoba’s Eastern Region, to Lac Du Bonnet. For this trip, our goal was to try our hands at some multi-species fishing in this area. We booked a cabin just outside of Lac Du Bonnet at Granite Recreational Park. This location proved to be the perfect spot for a buddies trip or a family fishing getaway. Upon arrival we were blown away by how nice the cabin was. No details were missed to ensure our stay was flawless. Satellite TV, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, two bedrooms, full kitchen and bathroom, as well as an outside porch, picnic table and barbecue.
Along with the cabin amenities, Granite Recreational Park also offers many other amenities including Gigi’s Drive Inn restaurant, a convenience store, gas bar, MLCC, a seasonal campground, motel rooms, a golf driving range, laundry and shower facilities, well maintained boat launch, playground and easy access to the nearby golf course, the Granite Hills Golf Club. They really have every thing you could ever need for a for a family vacation or buddies trip.
Upon our arrival, a massive weather system moved over our area. Leaving us waiting out the rain within the comforts of our cabin. As the rain persisted through the late afternoon, we snuck over to Gigi’s Drive Inn and ordered some take-out supper. Their awesome menu made it difficult to decide on just what to order, but neither of us were disappointed as we dug into an amazing meal back at the cabin.
Evening on the Water
As the evening wore on, we could finally see a break in the clouds. Marcel and I suited up in our rain gear, loaded the boat and headed back towards Lac Du Bonnet. We decided to launch the boat right at the bridge and try our luck at that section of the lake. There was only a few minutes remaining in the day but we were eager to get on the water and at the very least figure some things out.
Although brief and unsuccessful, it was certainty nice to get the boat on the water after hours of rain delay and make sure all our gear was dialed in. As the sun set behind another storm about to roll in, we explored a few main lake reefs using our sonar units before making it back to the launch at dark.
Early Morning Launch
Upon returning back to the cabin following our brief evening fish. We hit the hay in preparation for an early morning on the water. A short sleep later, the morning alarms jumped us out of bed. We made an awesome breakfast in the cabin, before loading up the boat and heading to the launch at Granite Hills, that was just seconds away. This well-maintained launch leads to a small channel that takes you out near the mouth of the Lee River.
We started our day by heading across Lac Du Bonnet and into a bay on the north side of the lake. In the protection of the Lee River, we did not realize just how windy it actually was. The lake was rough, however, we took it easy as we crossed the open water to get into the bay we wanted to fish. I personally had never fished on Lac Du Bonnet before, but Marcel has had some success in the past. Unfortunately, some of his favorite spots at the mouth of this bay were virtually unfishable due to the large waves pounding into the island shorelines. We made due with what we could for a short time, until we made the decision to head back into the protection of the Lee River before the stronger winds of the early afternoon set in.
Once on the Lee River the winds were much more manageable at that time. It didn't take long once out of the wind to find a few bass. Marcel pointed out one shallow rock reef that looked perfect for bass, but it was covered in weeds. I struggled to get my lure into where I wanted to due to these weeds. So, I decided to throw a half-ounce spinnerbait into this section, with hopes of getting it into the strike zone.
Before long the spinnerbait working through these weeds got crushed! This fish put up a solid fight before I was able to get it in the net. We were able to land the first quality bass of the trip. This bass was a big confidence boost for the morning. However, as we began to cover much of the Lee River, the winds once again became a lot to handle. We made the decision to head back to the boat launch and take a break in the comfortable confines of our cabin and get some relief from the relentless winds.
After a couple hours in the cabin, we were ready to get back on the water. Much to our surprise the winds had died down a lot and it was shaping up to finally be a nice night on the water. We traveled out to the eastern basin of Lac Du Bonnet and began casting along a rock island. Immediately my lure got smashed and the relentless pull on my line told me that it had to be a big pike. After an awesome fight, I was able to land it and quickly got her back in the water. It had been a super tough two days of weather for fishing, but this was a very promising sign for better things to come.
We continued around the same island for a bit and were able to pull some smaller bass before moving on. The eastern shorelines on the lake had been blown into all day, leading us to be hopeful that they could be stacked with fish. We did a quick scan with the sonars and marked loads of bait and fish, so we immediately began working these shorelines.
Marcel started throwing a football jig and a craw with hopes of getting on some multi-species action. His lure got hammered in a very bassy spot and upon closer inspection at the boat, it was a walleye. Earlier in the day we wanted to target some main lake reefs for walleye but were unable to do so effectively from the strong winds. So, both of us were elated to get one in the boat. As the evening progressed we were able to hook up with a few more bass and pike. Just as it was nearing time to head back towards Lee River, I was able to hook into a beauty smallmouth to finish off the day.
Concluding Our Trip to Lac Du Bonnet
As we made our way back to the Lee River, we had a few minutes remaining of light. Naturally, we had to get a few more casts in before calling it a night. We worked an island shoreline near our launch and Marcel was able to land a great yellow perch. Soon after the sun began meeting the horizon and we called it a day.
Although inundated with poor weather for much of our trip, Marcel and I got a true glimpse of how special this fishery really is that evening. Our home base at Granite Recreational Park made every aspect of our stay flawless. It proved to us that it is the ultimate location for a family fishing vacation. With so many things to do at the park, there is sure to be something to keep everyone in the family busy both on and off of the water.
As Marcel and I left the park the next morning, we both knew we have to return soon and try our luck at this amazing multispecies fishery once again.
For rod and reels, we varied between 6-7ft medium to medium-heavy action rods; paired with a spinning or baitcasting reel depending on the lure and preference. We spooled these up with 10-pound braid tied to a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.
The main lures we used on this trip were a tube jig, 1/2 ounce spinner. A 7ft diving Storm Arashi crank in a craw pattern. As well as a football head jig with a craw imitation.
Throughout the entire lake, we found the weed growth was really thick. This made getting some of our lures where we wanted to very difficult. To help combat this a tactic Marcel and I used was to throw his 1/2 ounce spinner bait into these areas. The ability to work a lure effectively in the weedy areas helped us to land more fish during our time on the water.
Granite Recreational Park:
When planning a trip to Granite Recreational Park, plan for at least one of your meals to be at Gigi's Drive Inn. Marcel and I did this, and we had just an awesome meal with no cooking or clean-up required.
For more information on Granite Recreational Park, click here.
Visit the HuntFishMB blog page for more great Manitoba fishing content like this.
*For More Information on Covid-19 social distancing measures, visit the Manitoba Government Covid-19 website.
*Protect Manitoba’s water and resources. Stop aquatic invasive species. For more information on how to do your part, visit the Sustainable Development AIS page.