It was one of the most miserable days, weather-wise, I have ever fished in. And believe me, in 31 years as a professional angler, I have seen my share of bad weather -- including a case of hypothermia after getting soaked in near-freezing temperatures in the middle of a huge lake in northern Alberta.
This time, I was fishing in early June on one of the best walleye lakes in the world. Gunisao Lake probably produces more master-angler walleye than any other place on earth.
Located in northeastern Manitoba, this body of water is a trophy factory, and on this particular day, despite the weather, we were enjoying some of that spectacular fishing. Along in the boat with me was John Toone Jr., author of the new book, Fishin' for Dumbasses. John is not to be confused with his dad, John Sr., who was also along on this trip in a boat next to us, looking almost as miserable as we did.
We were fishing a current area next to the lodge, a highway for walleye moving in and out of a huge bay that was used as a spawning area. The fishing wasn't complicated; drop a jig and power bait and drift with the current. In no time, John had himself one of those master-angler walleye Manitoba is famous for. I relate this particular story for two reasons: Last week, I was at the launching of Toone's new book at McNally Robinson. It was a fun night and the excerpts from this new book had my wife and me laughing hysterically. This book's about John's experiences growing up in a fishing family presented in a way everyone can appreciate. If you enjoy good writing and have a sense of humour, this book is for you.
The second reason is this past Thursday was the unveiling of the provincial fish at the FortWhyte Alive. Of course we all now know it was the wily walleye, the fish that has helped make Manitoba famous to anglers and food connoisseurs around the world.
As chairman of the selection committee, it wasn't a huge surprise to me that the walleye was chosen, given its status as table fare and its popularity as a sport fish. Still, the mighty northern pike and the lake sturgeon had their share of support as well.
The walleye (or pickerel as it is known locally) had the highest percentage of votes in a poll conducted by the province.
It was this that helped convince Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship Gord Mackintosh to name the walleye the provincial fish.
The majority of anglers in this province target this species and many of our destinations are walleye hotspots. Speaking of which, I will be heading up to Harrop Lake on Sunday for three days of remote fly-in fishing. Luckily, the ice just went off the lake mid-week and the fishing for walleye and pike should be spectacular.
Here in southern Manitoba, anglers have been catching some catfish in the Red River along with a number of other species. In the Whiteshell, Lone Island Lake, Big Whiteshell Lake, the Winnipeg River and Brereton Lake have all been good for walleye.
With hot temperatures in the forecast, it's finally time to get out on the water and enjoy the great fishing we have in this province.
ANGLERS NOTES: Publisher Kevin Stobbe says the latest edition of Hooked Magazine will be available locally this weekend. A regional fishing magazine, this publication is now in its sixth year.
Members of the Miles Mac Angling Club have been making trips to the Red River. Teacher Tim Au and his students have been busy doing shoreline cleanup as well as catching fish -- a great success story of motivating young people to enjoy the outdoors.