Cross the border into Manitoba, and you’ll find a wealth of fishing opportunities, ranging from the giant catfish of the Red River near Lockport, Man., to walleyes, lake trout, northern pike and smallmouth bass — to name just a few species — throughout the province.
According to Wikipedia, Manitoba has more than 110,000 lakes covering more than 15 percent of the province.
Fishing all of them would be impossible, of course, but it’s always fun to dream and scheme. With that in mind, here are five Manitoba fishing destinations I’ve either fished or hope to fish in the not-too-distant future. More information on these and other destinations in the province are available on the Travel Manitoba website at www.travelmanitoba.com.
So start dreaming and start scheming; it’s time to explore.
This large lake about 400 miles north of Winnipeg near the town of The Pas, Man., comes by its name honestly. According to Travel Manitoba, Clearwater Lake has a whopping 35 feet of clarity.
Clearwater Lake’s deep, clear waters are ideal for lake trout, which are the big draw for anglers both summer and winter. The lake regularly produces lake trout meeting the 35-inch minimum benchmark to qualify for the province’s popular Master Angler program. Anglers also routinely catch northern pike and whitefish, and nearby lakes offer fishing opportunities for species such as walleyes and rainbow trout.
Clearwater Lake is located within Clearwater Lake Provincial Park, which covers 230 square miles of mostly coniferous forest. Besides fishing, the Clearwater Lake area offers swimming, boating, hiking and camping, and resorts are available for visitors who seek modern comforts.
If time allows, Reed Lake would be a great second leg of a northern Manitoba road trip after a few days on Clearwater Lake. As drive-to lakes go, they don’t get much better.
Located about 500 miles northwest of Winnipeg, Reed Lake is situated within 880-square-mile Grass River Provincial Park east of the communities of Cranberry Portage and Flin Flon, Man.
I’ve fished Reed Lake only once, back in late March and early April 2007, but a return trip remains a priority as soon as time and opportunity allows. The pike action we encountered while ice fishing at the mouth of a shallow bay adjacent to the deeper basin of the main lake was nothing short of spectacular, both for size and numbers.
While part of the crew focused on lake trout, which for some reason had lockjaw that week, three of us deviated from the plan and targeted pike, making the short ride from camp by snowmobile each of the three days we fished. For our efforts, we were rewarded with numerous pike in the 35- to 40-inch range, and the 42-inch pike I released qualified for Manitoba’s Master Angler program. According to Travel Manitoba’s Master Angler database, the pike is ranked No. 50 among Reed Lake Master Angler fish and No. 209 overall.
Topping both of those marks would be great fun.
Deep snow and slush limited our access, even by snowmobile, in 2007 so we didn’t do much exploring during our trip, but Reed Lake also is known for walleyes and lake trout. I’d especially like to fish the lake in a boat, preferably on a day that’s calm enough to cover some water.
Grass River Provincial Park offers nearly 60 campsites, and an informational brochure about the park says islands on Reed Lake provide calving sites for woodland caribou, along with shelter for boaters and canoeists.
We stayed at Peterson’s Reed Lake Lodge, located on an island of Reed Lake, in 2007. More deluxe accommodations on the lake are available at Grass River Lodge.
Whiteshell Provincial Park
There’s no shortage of fishing opportunities in this 1,051-square-mile provincial park about 80 miles northeast of Winnipeg. Whiteshell Provincial Park includes some 13 road-accessible lakes, according to the park’s website, many of them formed by dams on the Winnipeg River. The lakes offer a variety of fishing opportunities for walleyes, northern pike, smallmouth bass and crappies, the latter becoming more frequent throughout the park in recent years.
Numerous camping opportunities are available, and the park’s website lists 10 campgrounds, all of which offer fishing, in addition to beaches, boat launches, playgrounds and wheelchair access.
Several resorts also are located within the park, but it’s advisable to make reservations well in advance.
For anglers seeking a more remote experience without roughing it or splurging on a fly-in trip, Crowduck Lake Camp offers daily boat rentals. From the pickup point on Big Whiteshell Lake, the camp transports visitors by boat to a land portage for the two-mile ride in a covered trailer into Crowduck Lake. After a short orientation at the dock, visitors receive a map marked with proven fishing spots and head out for the day. The camp runs like a well-oiled machine, and a day trip into Crowduck is as simple as calling ahead for a pickup time and making arrangements for a return trip at the end of the day. Cabins also are available but usually are booked months in advance.
Buffalo Point/Buffalo Bay
Located on the Manitoba side of Lake of the Woods, Buffalo Point/Buffalo Bay is a perennially popular destination for anglers in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota for good reason. It’s close, and the fishing can be excellent for walleyes, pike and even the occasional big perch.
Located just across the border north of Warroad, Minn., Buffalo Point Resort offers a marina with boat launching and dock slips for do-it-yourself anglers, along with guided charter fishing for anglers who prefer to let someone else run the boat. A convenience store with bait, groceries, tackle and other goods also is available onsite.
In addition to fishing, Buffalo Point Resort offers camping, golfing on the 18-hole Lake of the Sandhills Golf Course, dining and lakefront cabins and suites. The Buffalo Point First Nation museum and government center features interpretive displays with a focus on Buffalo Point’s history along with mounts of local wildlife and artwork by First Nations artists.
Nopiming Provincial Park
It’s tough to pick a fishing spot in a provincial park with more than 700 lakes, but anglers making the trek to Nopiming Provincial Park northeast of Winnipeg on the Manitoba-Ontario border certainly would have fun trying.
Boreal forest and Canadian Shield, a landscape known for its rugged granite outcroppings, dominate the wilderness park, which encompasses 552 square miles. Nopiming means “entrance to the wilderness” in the Anishinaabe language. This park certainly qualifies.
While much of the park is inaccessible by road, provincial Highway 304, a gravel road, runs through part of the southern portion of the park and road-accessible campgrounds are available at Beresford, Bird and Black lakes and Tulabi Falls.
With miles of lakes and rivers to explore, Nopiming Provincial Park is home to a variety of fly-in and drive-to fishing lodges and outpost camps. Walleyes, northern pike, trout, perch and smallmouth bass all are available in the park.
For a change of pace, Northern Wings Bed and Breakfast in the nearby community of Bissett, Man., just beyond the border of the park, offers comfortable accommodations in a 3,000-square-foot log home and excellent food that often includes Thai cuisine. I can attest to that because I stayed there in July 2017. The B&B is a popular overnight stop for anglers departing for more remote fly-in destinations.