Home to stunning, untouched nature and over 100,000 lakes, the “Keystone Province” is one of the ultimate outdoor destinations on the planet. And when it comes to fishing in Manitoba, you could go out and hit a different lake every day, without ever coming close to exploring all of them. It’s a freshwater angling treasure trove, with something new to discover with every outing.
Manitoba’s fishing grounds include everything from sprawling lakes and secluded ponds to bountiful rivers and peaceful streams. For those who really want a remote experience, there’s even the far north to explore. Simply put, Manitoba offers endless angling possibilities, as long as you have the will to plan the adventure.
To assist with that, we’ll present some of the fish species you can catch in this part of Canada. Then, we’ll cover a few ways to approach the province’s fisheries and point you to a few spots. You’ll also get to read about a few regulations you should follow. So, whenever you’re ready, read on!
What can I catch fishing in Manitoba?
Manitoba’s waters feature a superstar lineup of freshwater game. From great fighters to delicious eating fish, there’s a species out there for any type of angler. Of course, we can’t name them all, but let’s dive into a few local favorites.
Prized for their divine taste, Walleye are one of the most popular species you’ll get the chance to target in Manitoba. They’re also a fantastic choice for anglers of all skill levels. The fight they put up is fun, but ultimately something most people can easily deal with.
In Manitoba, the waters are abundant with Walleye. Across the province’s lakes and rivers, there are probably thousands of places where you could reel these fish in. They’re available year-round, both during open and hard water seasons. However, if you’re really itching for trophy, “greenback” Walleye, the best time to fish for them is during fall and winter.
Famous for their striking markings and voracious appetite, Northern Pike are among Manitoba’s top freshwater predators. For anglers, they’re a beloved adversary, as they’ll smack your bait with ferocity, initiating a thrilling battle. During the fight, Pike will shake their head and pull with force, making them a fantastic fish to tussle with.
What’s even better is that they’re always hungry, which means there are opportunities to catch them throughout the year. The prime time, though, is usually in May and June, when they’ll move to shallow waters. Much like Walleye, Northern Pike are widespread across Manitoba’s rivers and lakes.
For anglers who prefer their adventures to take place off the beaten path, Manitoba’s Trout are the perfect target. There are several types of them you can find out here, including Brown, Brook, Lake, Rainbow, and the aggressive Tiger Trout. All of these fish reach trophy sizes in Manitoba’s waters, presenting a fantastic challenge for any angler.
Trout are available for most of the year in this part of Canada, with anglers catching them both on open water and when ice fishing. We’ll delve into some of the locations where you can find them later on in the article. For now, let’s just say that there are Trout spots in just about every region of the province. However, the western part of it and the far north typically feature the best Trout angling.
The Keystone Province is probably not the first place you’d think about if someone asked you to name some great Smallmouth fisheries. They’re often overlooked by anglers too busy enjoying the Walleye, Pike, and Trout bonanza. However, if you set out to battle some Smallies, you’ll actually discover that Manitoba has them in abundance.
The Smallmouth action in Manitoba’s waters typically takes place between May and October, with the early season often being the hottest fishing-wise. This being said, local anglers have been known to catch Bass exceeding 20 inches even through the ice.
Naturally, Bass aren’t as widespread as Walleye or some other local species in Manitoba. However, the lakes and rivers Smallies lurk in are generally accessible without having to organize a fly-in trip.
To add to the species we’ve already mentioned, Manitoba also features prolific Channel Catfish fishing, with many ranking it among some of the best in the world. Besides these mustached creatures, there are also Sauger, Yellow Perch, Drum, Lake Whitefish, and numerous others for you to catch.
If all of these are somehow not enough, there are also Sturgeon to be caught along Manitoba’s rivers. These river monsters are subject to strict catch-and-release regulations, but just fighting one is adventure enough. With that, you’ll just have to figure out which of these wonderful fish you’d like to go for first.
How can I go fishing in Manitoba?
When you’ve decided what you want to catch, it’s time to consider how you want to fish Manitoba’s many waterways. There are a few different ways to go about your fishing adventure, all depending on when you visit, where you want to go, how much time you want to spend fishing, your budget, and so on. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Since there’s such a wealth of spots to fish in Manitoba, pairing up with a guide who knows where to take you is always worth it. They’ll know what’s biting at the time of your trip, which bait works best, how the fish move, and all the other essential information for a productive trip.
This is especially important if you plan on fishing some of the more remote locations around the Keystone Province. Many of them are hard to reach by land, requiring you to fly in. In this case, having a guide that can clue you up on how to organize such a trip, provide or recommend accommodation, and keep you safe in the wilderness is necessary.
But even if you’re just fishing one of the more accessible lakes, doing it with a guide makes everything easier. They’ll usually provide the equipment so you don’t have to rent or travel with it. And you’ll usually get to make use of their boats, allowing you to switch between fishing spots with ease.
But if you’re more into just setting up on a lake or a river shore and fishing on your own, there’ll be plenty of fish to catch this way, too. Not only that, but it’s also the budget-friendly way to reel in some catch, especially if you have your gear already. All you need to do is pick where to fish, get your license, and you’d be good to go.
Naturally, unless you’re Les Stroud, you won’t be able to go remote and fish out in the wilderness all alone. However, that’s not really an issue in Manitoba. There are so many lakes here that you can drive to, that you can pretty much get access to all the province’s species fishing from shore.
On most of the lakes in Manitoba, shore fishing is only an option until the winter hits. At that point, the ice starts encasing the waters, eventually becoming thick enough to drill a hole through it and fish. And for many Manitoba locals, this kind of fishing is one of their favorite winter pastimes.
The ice fishing season in Manitoba usually begins around mid-December. It’s when the lakes will begin forming enough ice to bear your weight, allowing you to set up the shanties and fish. The season goes on all the way until mid-March when the ice eventually starts melting. As we mentioned earlier, you can catch most of Manitoba’s species through the ice, including Walleye, Trout, Pike, and many others.
Where are the best places to fish in Manitoba?
And now, it’s finally time to dive into some of the specific fisheries worth visiting in Manitoba. We won’t try to name all 100,000 of them. However, the following locations will provide you with just enough variety to cover all the province’s species. Take a look…
Manitoba is home to the 10th largest lake in the world – Lake Winnipeg. Its sprawling waters provide a habitat for a number of freshwater fish, including Walleye, Northern Pike, Burbot, Sauger, and others. In particular, it’s noted for its amazing Walleye action that goes on year-round.
Since it’s a shallow lake, it freezes over easily in the winter, making it an excellent ice fishing destination. If you visit between January and March, you’ll get the opportunity to reel in huge, greenback Walleye through the ice. Also, since it’s located only about an hour from the city of Winnipeg, the lake is a fantastic destination for day trips.
Lac du Bonnet
Our second location, Lac du Bonnet, lies on the Winnipeg River. It’s a small town with plenty of angling variety. From here, you can fish its namesake lake or the river itself. Or, you can venture to one of the ponds and smaller lakes in the surrounding area to experience Manitoba’s wilderness.
Fishing out of Lac du Bonnet, you can catch Channel Catfish, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, and even Sturgeon. If you’re looking for Trout instead, there are a number of local ponds that are stocked with Rainbow, Brown, and Tiger Trout. Like elsewhere around the province, there are opportunities to fish both during the open water season and when the ice hits.
Lake of the Woods
In the southeastern corner of Manitoba, you’ll reach the shores of the mystical Lake of the Woods. With stunning natural scenery and over 14,000 islands spread through its waters, this lake is one of the most magical sights you can come across. Of course, the fishing is equally impressive.
The main stars of the show are – again – Walleye. In fact, Lake of the Woods is such a prolific Walleye fishery that it’s often touted as one of the best places in the world to catch these fish. Besides them, there are also Pike, Sauger, Muskellunge, Smallmouth Bass, and many other species swimming through the lake.
If you’re itching to catch some Trout, the Parkland Region is one of the best places in Manitoba to get your fish on. It stretches northwest from Lake Manitoba all the way to the Saskatchewan border. Parkland encompasses a network of rivers, streams, and lakes that are famous for their trophy Trout.
Particular spots you can visit include Twin Lakes, where there are big Tiger Trout. Then, there’s East Goose Lake where you can catch Rainbow and Brown Trout, as well as Persse Lake that’s full of Brookies and Browns. In Tees Lake, you’ll even find the rare albino Rainbow Trout, offering a once-in-a-lifetime catch.
We’ve mentioned earlier in the article that there’s also great Catfishing in Manitoba. Well, one of the world-class places to catch your fill of these fish is the Red River. There’s good angling throughout Manitoba’s portion of the river. However, the hottest fishing takes place just north of Winnipeg, around Lockport and Selkirk.
In this portion of the river, you’ll get the opportunity to catch some of the biggest Channel Catfish on the planet. The fish are said to average 20 pounds, so you can count on every battle being an intense one. The peak season usually starts mid-May and lasts until August.
And Many, Many Others!
Of course, there are thousands of other lakes to explore throughout the province. For example, you can visit the scenic God’s Lake, as well as Kississing Lake and Athapapuskow Lake. All three of these are full of trophy Lake Trout, Pike, and more.
Or, you could venture all the way to the shores of Hudson Bay, and fish the Churchill River for big Pike, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Sauger, and a myriad of other species. If all of this still doesn’t satiate your thirst for adventure, there are lodges far north, offering bespoke fishing trips in some of the least pressured waters on the planet.
Manitoba Fishing Regulations
Before you can set out, you’ll need to get a Manitoba fishing license. This applies to all anglers aged 16 and over. You can get your license online prior to your trip, saving you the trouble of figuring out where to buy it once you’re there.
Another thing you might want to consider is getting familiar with the local fishing regulations. If you’re fishing with a guide, you can probably skip doing so because they’ll let you know what’s in season and what you can keep. However, if you’re going solo, you can check out the recreational fishing regulations on Manitoba’s government website.
Manitoba: The Land of 100,000 Fishing Lakes
With the locations we mentioned in this article, we probably haven’t even covered one percent of what the Keystone Province has to offer. But that’s how it is in Manitoba. There’s always a fresh lake to fish, new paths to tread upon, and more things to discover. If you’re a freshwater angler and Manitoba hasn’t made your bucket list yet, you should seriously consider it for your next fishing destination. Its unblemished nature and world-class angling will leave you awestruck.
Have you ever been fishing in Manitoba? What’s your favorite lake to fish in the province? Let us know in the comments below!