Fall Fishing in Manitoba’s Interlake and Eastman Regions has almost become an annual ritual for most walleye anglers and a time of year that’s highly anticipated. Situated less than an hour north of Winnipeg rests Lake Winnipeg, the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world. This vast body of water that covers approximately 10,000 square miles has a long history for its commercial fishery. It’s really only been in the last decade or two that the explosion of its current recreational angling popularity took off during both the open water and hard water seasons.
Two of the lakes main tributaries are the Winnipeg River (Town of Powerview – Pine Falls) to the east and the Red River (City of Selkirk) to the south. During the fall, walleye or more famously known in Manitoba as “greenbacks” (due to their unique emerald sheen caused by limestone in the lake) begin to put their feedbag on and enter both river systems in search for shiner minnows. This feeding frenzy will continue through the fall and enter into winter in preparation for the spring spawn. As the weather begins to cool in the fall and the water temperatures drop into the 50’s (Fahrenheit), schools of walleye begin to move in from the lake. Fishing starts to pick up near the end of September with the prime time in either river occurring in October with some anglers fishing into November until snow falls.
The Red River and Winnipeg River consistently make the list of top walleye spots in Canada and North America and for good reason. Both rivers however are different in some respects and there is always a debate by anglers as to which river is better. To sum it up, the Red River has been known to produce big walleye and when I mean big I mean in the 9 – 14 (28” – 34”) pound range. The Winnipeg River on the other hand is known for larger quantities with 60 to 100 fish a day not being uncommon. These fish are of the slightly smaller range being anywhere from 16” to 22” or 1 to 4 pounds. This doesn’t preclude big fish being caught on the Winnipeg River or smaller eating size fish on the Red River. The current Manitoba All-Time Record Walleye was caught on the Red River in October 1997 and measured in at 39 inches. Here in Manitoba and through Manitoba’s Master Angler Program, all fish are recorded in centimeters or inches.
Both these popular locations are no secret to the avid walleye angler regardless of what side of the Canada – USA border you live on. With Winnipeg being only a one hour drive north from the Pembina, North Dakota Port of Entry, a steady stream of trucks with boats in tow is a common sight in the fall from destinations such as Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Jigging for walleye is the method of choice and gearing up to catch Manitoba’s Official Fish is quite simple. A 6 to 7 foot medium to medium-light fast action spinning rod with a spinning reel spooled with 6 to 10 pound monofilament line is a fairly standard setup. Due to the waters lack of clarity, bright coloured jigs (pink, chartreuse, green or orange) usually in 3/8 or 1/2 ounce weight tipped with a frozen salted minnow is ideal. Live minnows are permitted however more commonly reserved for the Winnipeg River. Another method used but not as popular is trolling deep diving crank baits in bright coloured combinations.
David Obirek is a freelance fishing columnist with the Selkirk Journal Newspaper and is featured monthly in “The Fishing Journal”. Based out of Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, David is also a competitive walleye angler and a member of the Central Walleye Trail (CWT). You can follow David on twitter(@walleye_dave), Facebook(@thefishingjournalselkirk) and Instagram(@thefishingjournal)