“Go north young man…”
Similar to the gold-panning rush days of centuries past, anglers have been flocking to the Northern Region of Manitoba in search of riches. The currency this time around however is golden walleye. Word has gotten out about lake after lake in this area of the province being absolutely loaded with trophy ‘eyes. It’s never been a secret that the Canadian north is walleye angler paradise, but the ‘Manitoba Gold Belt’ has established itself in a league of its own. The striking black and gold predators of these cool deep waters attract anglers from all across the continent.
What may be a surprise to some is that every lake on the following list is accessible by paved road and public boat launch. While these huge bodies of water in their entirety are pristine and remote, there is no shortage of places to stay with on-the-water lodge operations and campgrounds along with several large towns anchoring each end of the region. For a truly memorable drive-to walleye angling experience, make a trip to one or all of these destinations this season. Hitch the wagons… err boats, and head north.
Cross Bay (Cedar Lake)
The southern gateway to the gold belt, Cross Bay is just a portion of the enormous Cedar Lake. An influx of hordes of rainbow smelt in recent years are helping feed the fattest ‘eyes in the region. This section, in actuality a flooded reservoir, has a network of submerged roads and timber as some of the better structure to target schools of gold.
Located in the heart of the belt, Wekusko is the outlet for scenic Wekusko Falls. With several prominent inlets and outlets and a deep main basin, the star-like layout of this body of water make it text book water to hone in on its massive schools of roaming walleyes. The term ‘chunky walters’ needs no further explanation once you catch a few out of this lake.
The largest lake in Grass River Provincial Park, this waterway is characterized by very intricate shoreline and islands. Another well known attribute of this lake is that the fish swimming in its waters typically grow to enormous size regardless of the species including walleye. Quite often anglers targeting other fish such as lake trout or northern pike can’t help but hook into trophy walleyes as a bonus.
Lying at the far western end of the belt is the lake better known as Athapap. The more ‘shield’ like East Arm starts at the town of Cranberry Portage. Going west from there the lake takes on more of an open basin character. Practically a lake in its own right, the north portion is a good mixture of both. Master Angler walleyes abound however, whichever part of the lake you choose to drop a line in.
Much like Athapap, Simonhouse straddles the edge of the Manitoba Lowlands and Canadian Shield topography. The water here is limestone clear and begins to take on a tea-stained colouration at its far northern end. The largest lake in the Cranberry Chain, it is also arguably home to the largest walleyes in this meandering stretch of water.
Located just south of the City of Thompson, Paint Lake lies at the northern end of the belt. Well known for having a dense population of thick bodied walleyes, this lake is as sure a thing as it gets. Endless islands, points, reefs, and saddles spanning the entire lake embody this prototypical Canadian Shield body of water.
Cormorant Lake, Setting Lake, First Cranberry Lake, Second Cranberry Lake, Tramping Lake
For more information on walleye fishing in Manitoba, visit the Walleye page at Travel Manitoba.