So is Big Windy dead? Not by a long shot.
The early results are in and pictures speak louder than words. Great catches and big fish almost every trip since we started guiding after Christmas.
A quick glance at social media shows the cornucopia is filled to the brim with jumbo Lake Winnipeg greenback walleye on every second Facebook post since first ice.
The lake however has changed in part due to commercial netting and in part due to a natural cycle. I can tell you from first-hand experience the bite has changed. The days of easy fishing where your average guy can drive out pick a random hole and pound 6-8 pound greenbacks all day long are for the most part over. It’s taking more work, more effort and for the most part groups who are used to the easy days are the ones who are making the most noise about the lake being dead.
For guys who are willing to do the work, put in the effort and of course the guys booking with experienced and reputable outfitters are seeing the results.
Back in the heydays, you could go out and catch 30 to 50 fish over 25 inches on a hot bite but even then very few of those fish were master class. It’s only been in the last three years that we’ve seen exceptional catches of 28 inch plus sized fish. Those big schools of 26-inchers have gotten older, thinned out and been heavily netted but the result is a large group of Master Angler class fish at their maximum size potential. The numbers of fish over 5 pounds may have dramatically decreased but the numbers of 30 inch class walleyes over the last few for instance are much better than we’ve ever seen before.
Personally I think we’re seeing the best potential we’ve ever seen for that super sized 40 inch mega tank to show its face, as that giant year class reaches the end of it’s life cycle.
The commercial concerns are a long complicated issue. It has to do with laws rights and politics and I’m not gonna get into it now. There’s challenges ahead but we have the best chance we have ever had to make meaningful change towards Lake Winnipeg and its future. Wether it’s a reduction on limits and quota or simply eliminating the illegal catch, which some estimate to be as high as the legal quota itself, something’s got to give.
Rob Olson, the former director of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation, and the man who was leading the charge lobbying government to make changes for our fisheries and wildlife is now the deputy minister of sustainable development and the guy responsible for making the change needed. Rob has a lot of pressure on him and is now seeing things from both sides of fence, but now it’s up to him to follow through with what he lobbied so hard for for many years. I am very optimistic. Robs a good man, and he’s the right man for the job. If we can’t win with him then we just can’t win.
As for Lake Winnipeg the big fish are there and the opportunity for a jumbo size Winnipeg Walleye is as good or better than it’s ever been. Now is the time!
For information on a guided trip you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.blackwatercats.com. I have my team of guides locked and loaded and ready to go on Lake Winnipeg.