A new job, new house and a new province has caused a notable increase in stress, so there was no doubt it was time for a vacation. Dave hadn’t accumulated enough vacation time yet, so I was on my own. Not wanting to explore a new destination without Dave I decided to take a trip we have done a few times before. Fishing the Parklands of Manitoba. This time its within driving distance, so it was time for a road trip. I was first introduced to the Parklands in the fall of 2012 by Phil Rowley and Fly Craft Angling Adventures. The fishing has been so good I’ve been back once a year since.
Our buddy Rick was heading for the same lakes and kept me company on the 9 hour drive. We took the southern route from Alberta through Saskatchewan and then into Manitoba. I thought Alberta was flat, but Saskatchewan wins that prize! If you account for airport time, flight and a 4 hour drive from Winnipeg, the drive didn’t take much longer than flying from Toronto. I will add that it was much more comfortable in our truck!
The lakes we were headed for are managed trophy lakes, created and operated by FLIPPER (Fish and Lake Improvement Program for the Parkland Region). This organization monitors, manages and enhances the lake fisheries with donation dollars alone. Officially there are six FLIPPER lakes; Pybus, Corstaphine, Paterson, Twin and Perrse Lakes. These lakes have special regulations on them to help develop the trophy fishery. There are a number of other great lakes to fish within reaching distance like West Goose and the Duck Mountain Lake. There is no doubt that it will take many more trips to explore them all.
We limited our fishing this year to Paterson, West Goose, Twin and Tokaryk Lakes. Unfortunitly a failure of the aeration system reportedly killed off all the fish at Corstaphine Lake – a lake that produces some very large rainbows and Dave’s personal favourite of the FLIPPER lakes. Flooding introduced pike and perch into Tokaryk which will, in time negatively impact the trout fishery in that lake.
Paterson Lake produced well, as was
expected with some very large fish caught on some very small flies. Rainbows were aggressively taking size 12 to 14 chironomids about 22′ down. The hits were startling and exciting! The diversity of structure and habitat in the lake makes it interesting to explore. Once you find fish that are feeding, it seems kind of silly to leave them! Winds in the Parklands can be a significant challenge, blowing us off the feeding fish more than once. Despite the caddis flitting around the lake, the fish were only interested in chironomids. Fishing deep is fun, but sometimes its nice to see some surface action as well!
A new lake for me, West Goose, seemed to produce well for Rick. This lake is right in the town of Roblin and has little visibility. We did manage to ride out a bad weather day on West Goose, watching storms pass north and south of us, but never halting our fishing. It was a lucky day for us indeed. A few decent Browns and Rainbows were landed, but the fish weren’t as plentiful as at Paterson. Despite the introduction of perch in Tokaryk Lake, the rainbows were very active at dusk and many were caught right on the surface. Fishing while the bows were feeding this aggressively was a bit like target practice. If you could drop your fly in the middle of the ring immediately after a fish rose to the surface, you were almost guaranteed a hit! A test of speed and accuracy! For some reason it was taking me far too long to land the mid sized rainbow I was battling with. With his well known chuckle, Rick pointed out that I was using a 6 weight rod and 3x tippet. Gear that could, in the proper hands, stop a truck. Guess I got so used to playing the big fish I forgot what I was using and immediately “put the boots” to that fish which seemed to quiet Rick down!
By far my favourite lake is Twin. A short drive from Roblin, this lake has been stocked with Tiger Trout. Tiger trout are a hybrid between Brook Trout and Brown Trout. Here they are not native and do not occur naturally, but I still love them. They are remarkable in their coloration and markings and fight like bulldogs. They are very aggressive fish and typically short and stout. These fish pull hard and dive deep. I often found myself saying out loud “I’m using a 6 weight and 3x… get in the net!”. The trout didn’t seem to care. My best day of the trip was on Twin with over 30 Tigers landed, the largest being 27″. It was a great day and unfortunately we couldn’t duplicate it in our later attempts this trip! It was a great trip with hundreds of trout caught and even a couple of perch.
I always say this is my last trip to the Parklands because there are so many places I have yet to cast a line. Yet I keep coming back!