It's Our Turn - Fishing trip lives up to Canadian standardsYou hear about Canadian fishing trips and their potential for creating memories that will last a lifetime – last week I got to experience that.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
You hear about Canadian fishing trips and their potential for creating memories that will last a lifetime – last week I got to experience that.
The first and only time I went to Cedar Lake near Grand Rapids, Manitoba I caught a 44-inch northern that remains the biggest fish I have ever caught. That’s why I was so excited to be heading back there for four days of fishing with my dad and longtime friend, Jacob Busiahn.
But it wasn’t big northerns that this trip would be remembered for. Instead, it was a walleye bite that was the best any of us had ever seen.
We hit the road at 5 a.m. on July 14 for the 11-hour drive. By 9 that night, we had a northern and five walleyes around 21 inches in the livewell after a couple hours of fishing.
The next day, we cast daredevils for northerns in a spot aptly named Jack Fish Bay. We caught them almost every cast for seven hours but none were the big ones that could keep us from going after walleyes again.
Our success the second full day is due in large part to the generosity of our neighbor in the campground. Ike is from Manitoba and has learned where to fish Cedar Lake for walleyes over the years. We were happy to take him up on his offer to follow him around the lake in the morning.
Ike didn’t disappoint. We fished a shelf a long ways off an island in about 12 feet of water that morning and came in with five more walleyes in the livewell. We threw back a lot more once we reached our possession limit, many of which were over the 22-inch slot limit, including a 28-incher.
That made leaving the lake tough to do on our final day, but we were intrigued by what we heard was an incredible bite on the Saskatchewan River. The mouth of the river opens up into Lake Winnipeg a few miles from our camp. That, coupled with the Grand Rapids Dam not far up river, makes this a popular destination every summer.
We had heard that catching walleyes there was like stealing candy from a baby.
“No, it’s not,” Ike said when I presented him with that analogy. “It’s much easier.”
Once again, he was right. We got on the river a little after 7 the next morning and did what we had been told to do – motor up to the little church and drift back toward Lake Winnipeg.
Jacob and I didn’t have our lines in the water before Dad pulled up his first fish. That’s how it went for the next 11 hours when we finally decided we had to call it a day.
We pulled bottom bouncers and spinners tipped with a night crawler at first. Those lasted about an hour before we were forced to switch over to white twister tails and Gulp two-inch plastic minnows.
It didn’t matter what we used. We estimate that we caught and released well over 300 walleyes that day. That number seems low after doing some math, but we were already walking a fine line between believable and a classic fish story.
The biggest of those were two 26-inchers. Many fell between 18-22 inches after we figured out which stretch of the river was producing the biggest fish.
I had been to Canada four times before this and caught big fish almost every time, but never caught numbers like this. This was the kind of fishing you hope for on these trips, the kind of fishing you imagine when you think of all that Canadian waters have to offer.
• • •
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.