Also known as ‘pickerel’, this species is the most popular sportfish targeted by Manitoba anglers. So much so that it was recently voted in as our official provincial fish. They are sought after in no small part due to the fact that they make delicious table fare. Popular Filipino dishes that can be prepared with walleye are ‘sinigang na isda’ and ‘pesang isda’. Easier to target in the fall during the greenback run, these fish can still be readily caught on most lakes and rivers in the province. During the heat of summer, the best times to go after them are early in the morning and in the evening when they are most actively feeding. Their closely related smaller cousin the Sauger, is equally as tasty and are plentiful to catch on the Red and Assiniboine rivers as well as any waterways that feed into or on Lake Winnipeg.
The stretch of the Red River just north of Lockport to the big lake is world renowned for its fantastic trophy channel catfish fishery. While this area is definitely loaded with monster fish, these voracious predators can also be caught anywhere in the river waters within Winnipeg all the way to the U.S. border. The beaches along Lake Winnipeg and Pine Falls are also good places to target these hard fighters. Throwing a simple weight and hook rig out with shrimp or any cut bait is usually enough to tempt one into biting. If you intend to specifically go after cats, a must is suitable tackle and equipment for big fish to reduce stress on the fish due to long battles.
Also locally referred to as ‘striped bass’, these fish will aggressively attack a variety of lures and bait. White bass are fun to target as they fight hard and school up in huge numbers. After their annual spring spawning run, they can be harder to find but are definitely worth searching out for. Roaming the vast waters of Lake Winnipeg, they will often make forays into the shoreline waters to feed in the summer. Throwing out rigs baited with minnows at places like Winnipeg Beach or Chalet Beach can sometimes pay off in big numbers caught. I have also waded out into the waters of the big lake at Gimli to the outlying sandbars to cast jig ‘n grub combos or spoons and have been rewarded with some solid fish.
Often times looked down upon by local anglers as a nuisance fish, pike or ‘jackfish’ are extremely fun to target and are relatively easy to find. During the summer when most fish are taking a break from the heat, these fish are more than willing to cooperate by slamming many lure or cut bait offerings. Smaller ones affectionately called ‘hammer handles’ can often help with providing action on many otherwise slow days on the water. Back bays, marsh waters, and smaller rivers or creeks are full of these toothy predators. Few ever complain when they successfully land a trophy sized specimen as these fish are truly impressive when you have one in front of you.
Classified as a rough fish, these underappreciated scrappers are a handful on rod and reel. Also known as ‘silver bass’, they make decent table fare when prepared on the grill. Catching a drum typically signifies the start of the summer season as they become fully active once the water temperatures warm up. Catching these fish off the shores of the Red or Assiniboine rivers with minnows or worms is a great way to get people and kids into some decent easy action. They are plentiful to catch but are also feisty and heavy on the line.
Often called the ‘pound for pound’ hardest fighting freshwater fish, the smallmouth bass is no doubt a fun fish to target. They will hit top water, fast moving, or dead still presentations with equal ferocity. Nothing quite compares to a bass leaping out of the water on the end of your line. Canadian Shield lakes and rivers in the eastern part of the province are full of ‘smallies’ ready to hit your lures this summer.
Another fun fish to catch albeit much smaller in size and fight are the yellow perch. These colourful panfish are plentiful in numbers once a school is found and are very good table fare as well. Fishing at the marinas at Gimli or at Hecla Island are popular spots to target summertime perch. Under docks and piers in the Whiteshell are also good places to try and get into some.