The majority of our readers reside in the great city of Winnipeg. For many of us, the occasional weekend escape of the hustle and bustle of urban life involves packing the coolers into our vehicles, loading the gear, and hitting the road for some outdoor fun. More often than not, the roads that are most travelled go either east, north, or south. While areas such as the Whiteshell, Northwest Ontario, St. Malo, Birds Hill, and the countless destinations that line Lake Winnipeg are tried and true fantastic places to visit, the highways going west hold some less utilized gems that may surprise you.
This season I’ve made a point to visit some lakes in the western part of the province that I have never fished before. Exploring new waters is always exciting and adds a new sense of adventure to the weekend trips. Half the fun is also checking out attractions and sights at the different towns that call these lakes their home waters. Catching a pile of fat walleyes at each lake is almost just a nice bonus.
Lake of the Prairies (Russell/Roblin)
A short while ago, I took the family out for a trip to Lake of the Prairies which lies very close to the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border on Hwy #16. I’ve fished this lake a couple of times before competing in tournaments. On this trip we stayed at the Russell Inn, mostly because they have a nice indoor pool and waterslide. Fishing wise, we took the boat out the first day and everyone caught a ton of walleyes and some spunky pike. The second day was super windy with whitecaps on the water so we fished from shore at the bottom of the Shellmouth dam. We got a few nice walleyes and a big pike here as well. Sidenote, it was pretty cool to talk to a good number of ‘kababayans’ who were working at the hotel and at various businesses in town.
Oak Lake (Oak Lake Beach)
On the way home from a tournament in Saskatchewan in May, Jeremy and I decided to fish this huge lake which were already going to pass by on the way home. We pulled into town late so we stayed at one of the handful of hotels in the nearby Hwy #1 town of Virden. Hitting the lake bright and early, we explored a few different areas and was surprised at how shallow the lake was never finding a spot more than 9 feet deep. We ended up catching fat 18 to 21 inch walleyes all day in the midst of a ton of other boats and pontoons who were having a field day with all of the fish schooling in 5 feet of water. At the marina there were numerous shore anglers who proudly displayed their stringers of walleyes to us too. Oak Lake Provincial Park and other resorts are right in town which was full of very friendly people.
Pelican Lake (Ninette)
Very recently, the family and I competed at the Generation Next Angler Westman tournament on Pelican Lake a few hours down Hwy #2. Having never even seen this lake before, we were quite surprised at how scenic and large the lake is which lies at the bottom of a steep valley on all sides. Easily just as big if not bigger than similarly sized Falcon Lake, we found that this lake was lined all around with great looking campgrounds, beaches, and beautiful cabins. The fishing was just okay in our boat but apparently we did not fish at the community hotspots as more than half of the teams in the field hammered them pretty good including numerous walleyes in the 23-26 inch range.
Those are the largest bodies of water in the west, but there are more great places to visit such as Stephenfield Lake near Carman, Lake Minnewasta near Morden, Rock Lake, and several dams along the Assiniboine River starting at the Portage La Prairie Spillway. A little research online and looking over maps may just find you a new favourite place to fish, camp, or swim. “Go west young man, go west”