A Manitoba Fishing Adventure


When several years of anticipation build before you get to journey on a planned fishing trip, the anticipation and excitement can be off the charts. So, when MWO TV finally got to travel north to Manitoba last August to visit Wallace Lake Lodge & Outposts, I couldn’t have been more ready to go fishing. It had been on my bucket list for a while, and the allure of catching hundreds of walleyes along with some big northern pike on a Canadian fishing trip is hard to beat.

Enroute from other video projects, it was the dinner hour before MWO video producer Tim Pumper and I arrived by float plane at the Wallace Lake Lodge base. Guests can choose to drive here (about three hours northeast of Winnipeg) or fly from one of three float plane bases (Silver Falls or Bissett, Manitoba or Ear Falls, Ontario).

When you arrive, you’ll discover that this operation is first-class in every respect, with the main lodge on Wallace Lake accommodating a max of only 16 guests. Owners James and Michele Hnatishin and sons Joe and Paul have taken great care to build excellent accommodations, with three well-appointed, super comfortable, ultra-modern housekeeping cabins plus a beautiful main lodge. Docks are available if you bring your own boat, or you can rent 16-foot Alumacraft boats equipped with 20 hp Yamahas and depthfinders as part of your package. The lodge sits on a spacious stretch of shoreline with a small beach. If you plan to stay at Wallace Lake Lodge, you’ll be fishing for walleyes and northern pike, plus good numbers of some nice-sized jumbo perch.

After a very cozy night’s stay in one of the cabins, we were up before dawn to photograph a spectacular sunrise over the lake. Soon after breakfast pilot Joe Hnatishin helped us load the floatplane loaded with our gear and we were off to Carroll Lake Outpost. This remote lake, which straddles the Manitoba/Ontario border, is a top walleye and northern pike lake in this region. As new guests of Wallace Lake Lodge & Outposts, we were immediately impressed by the quality of the outpost cabin, featuring three bedrooms, carved log furniture including an impressive dinner table, a moose head mount, a full-body black bear mount, and even laminated floors. Everything was spotless. All four outpost cabins operated by the Hnatishins are well-appointed, with solid docks, good-quality boats and motors, gas grills and fish cookers, solar lights and propane appliances, hot and cold running water and hot showers. Carroll Lake Outpost even features a Teflon fish cleaning station and washdown hose mounted on the dock!

Like all Canadian outpost lakes that experience little angling pressure, the fishing action can be spectacular. While guests are provided with marked maps featuring the most consistent hotspots, it helped to have the Hnatishin brothers fishing with us since they both know the lake well. Paul ran the camera boat so Tim could focus his efforts on the video project, while Joe and I fished together. I regrettably forgot my fish clicker, because we soon lost count of the sheer number of walleyes we boated that first day! All different size classes of walleyes showed up in our creel because this is healthy, dynamic fishery, and we also encountered some impressive northern pike, including one trophy-size fish that earnestly tried to devour a hooked walleye that Paul was trying to catch. Fun!

Yet another highlight of the day was seeing a massive bull woodland caribou wading along the shoreline before he slowly meandered into the dense brush, out of view. In this region of Ontario, it’s quite common to see this beautiful animal, a slightly smaller sub-species of barren ground caribou. After all, Carroll Lake bumps up against both Ontario’s Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Manitoba’s Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park. According to Joe, caribou are seen regularly at their outpost camps by guests, along with moose and occasionally black bear. Our day concluded with a beautiful evening overlooking a mirror-calm lake and a delicious fish fry to round out a full day of fishing in Manitoba.

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Everyone was eager to get started early the next morning, so Paul, Tim and I headed out after breakfast in two boats to try some new spots, while Joe headed off in the Cessna to check on guests at their other outpost camps. He soon returned to join me in the boat for our second fishing day. By the time he returned mid-morning, Paul and I had already caught dozens of nice walleyes to build a solid framework for a second TV segment. The fishing stayed hot after a short break to fetch Joe back at the cabin after he landed, and we ended the show with a beautiful, dark, 29-inch walleye I caught on a #7 Jigging Rap. What’s more, another caribou made an appearance on a sandy stretch of shoreline not far from our fishing spot—this time it was a cow!

For fishing gear, my equipment was standard fare for Canadian outposts. Indispensible: a Humminbird Helix 7 fishfinder with a LakeMaster Zero Lines SD card inserted. With a properly positioned, high-speed transducer mounted to the transom of the outpost boat, I can instantly create multi-color, detailed lake maps in 3-foot contours, not only while hovering over fish-holding reefs and shoreline depth contours, but even at high speed while running from spot-to-spot on the lake. This tool is even more invaluable if you plan to make subsequent trips to a particular remote lake and can build a stored library of mapping information, as well as waypoints.

Rods/reels/line: medium power, fast or extra fast action spinning rods in the 6.5 to 7-foot range paired with good quality spinning reels, spooled with 6-pound Sufix 832 braid and 10-pound Sufix Advance fluorocarbon leaders. A couple of St. Croix rod models made the journey in the rod tube: Avid Walleye (ASWS68MXF and ASWS71MF) and Eyecon (EYS68MXF and EYS71MF). These were paired with either 2500 series Shimano Stradics or Vanfords.

A Legend Tournament Bass casting rod also made the trip, giving me the option to cast for big pike or troll deep-running stickbaits like Down Deep Husky Jerks for big walleyes. (An effective technique on remote Canadian lakes when you run the deep shoreline breaks or troll in the evenings in the open basins of these cisco-based forage systems.) For this baitcasting seup, a 200 series Shimano Curado (8.5:1 gear ratio) was spooled with 15-pound braid and a 17-pound fluoro leader.

Fishing tackle consisted of a good selection of 1/4- and 3/8-oz. jigs in a full spectrum of colors, and a well-stocked box of #7 Jigging Raps, which in recent years have overtaken the traditional jig-n-minnow presentation on most Canadian walleye fishing trips. Other than a box of crankbaits for trolling or casting, a few bucktails and wire leaders for pike, tools like braid scissors and pliers, fish towels, and an extra pair of Wiley X sunglasses in case of a mishap, that was about it for fishing gear.

Regrettably, as is usually the case on our TV production projects, the fishing component of the work was done in just two days, and I wanted to stay to keep fishing this awesome lake for at least a couple more! The allure of flying into remote Canadian lakes is so great, and the fishing so rewarding, it’s always hard to leave. Soon, however, we were in the air and flying with Joe to tour the other Wallace Lake Outposts to get some additional video and photography work completed. With their list of delighted clientele, I’m certainly not the first to say that you absolutely will not be disappointed if you plan your Manitoba fishing adventure with the Hnatishin family! Their operation is first-class in every respect, and the Manitoba fishing is first-class! Visit wallacelakelodge.com for complete information.