Manitoba has emerged as a primo destination for freshwater anglers looking to target trophy-class fish. Northern pike, lake trout, and walleye are the big three that made this province famous amongst anglers. What makes Manitoba fishing very appealing for us is the variety of opportunities. There are luxurious fly-in camps with incredible accommodations along with more rustic economical options with a DIY feel. There are drive-to camps accessible with good asphalt roads that also offer incredible fishing opportunities. There are of course fisheries or destinations that offer huge numbers of fish of course but what does make Manitoba special is the big fish potential. If your desire is trophy caliber lake trout, walleye, or northern pike… there are few regions that rival what Manitoba can offer.
Manitoba has a wildly popular catch-and-release program called the Manitoba Master Angler Program for trophy fish. This program is one of the oldest such programs in North America that recognize trophy fish. A very useful tool for not only identifying top fisheries but also encouraging conservation. Anglers fortunate enough to catch a big fish can get some recognition for the accomplishment. Since the program is a catch and release program today, the fishing quality is sustained. The requirements for the Manitoba Master Angler Program vary by species and thirty-one species are currently recognized. When looking at the big three; northern pike, walleye, and lake trout… the number of entries, the history, and the quality of fish are simply mind-blowing. The biggest walleye ever recorded in Manitoba was 39 inches long from the Red River. That is one of the biggest walleyes ever caught anywhere. The top pike was a massive 60.5 inches long from Apisko Lake. The longest lake trout ever caught and released in Manitoba is an incredible 54 inches long from Nueltin Lake. This is the place where dreams are made.
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The minimum length requirement for Master Angler walleye is 28 inches. When it comes to producing big walleye, Lake Winnipeg is one of the top trophy walleye fisheries in the world. Manitoba’s longest walleye ever recorded at 39 inches was caught in the Red River which feeds into Lake Winnipeg. The Red River and Winnipeg River both have spring and fall walleye runs out of Lake Winnipeg that produce a lot of big fish. From my own experiences fishing both the Winnipeg River and the Red River, I would dare say that the Red River typically produces some of the very biggest fish while the Winnipeg River seems to produce more fish. Both rivers produce several Master Angler class fish, but the Red River seems to produce some of the very biggest. Anglers fishing the Red River have so many options around Winnipeg, Lockport, and Selkirk for accommodations with several great restaurants and hotels that offer boat parking. When fishing the Winnipeg River, we often stayed in the community of Pine Falls which has good hotels and restaurants. Great guides are available on both systems.
There are other great drive-to locations in Manitoba to target big walleye and the list is actually quite long. Some of our favorite locations where we have personally visited and left with a great impression include Wekusko Falls Lodge, Q Lake Lodge, and Harvest Lodge.
- Wekusko Falls Lodge sits right in the middle of several top-tier walleye, pike and lake trout lakes including Wekusko Lake, Reed Lake, and Tramping Lake. I would argue that the owner of Wekusko Falls Lodge (Bryan Bogdan) is one of the very best fishing guides I have ever been around so anglers fishing out of Wekusko Falls Lodge have access to a lot of solid information.
- Q Lake Lodge is located on Quesnel Lake inside the Nopiming Provincial Park. This drive-to fishing lodge has a remote wilderness feel but is really comfortable and well maintained. Besides quality walleye, this particular fishery is also one of Manitoba’s top smallmouth bass fisheries.
- Harvest Lodge is another easy-to-reach drive-to camp located on the Waterhen River which empties into Lake Manitoba. This system is a diamond in the rough with great trophy walleye and pike potential. When we stayed at Harvest Lodge, we enjoyed great home-cooked meals and great fishing is a very short distance away.
For fly-in fishing camps with a flair for luxury, nothing beats Budd’s Gunisao Lodge for producing staggering numbers of big walleye. Anglers visiting this fly-in camp are treated to great meals, comfortable cabins, and really good guides that put you right on the big fish.
Another Manitoba fly-in camp that blew us away was Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, perhaps one of the nicest fishing camps I had ever seen with beautiful cabins and great food. What sets Aikens Lake apart besides the accommodations is the big fish potential for not just walleye but lake trout and northern pike as well. You could realistically catch a master angler class fish of each species when fishing this water.
Manitoba is home to big lake trout. The minimum requirement for lake trout for Manitoba’s Master Angler Program is 35 inches with the longest lake trout ever recorded in Manitoba measuring an impressive 54 inches, caught on Nueltin Lake. We have had the opportunity to fish some of Manitoba’s best lake trout water and the fishing is impressive.
For drive-to camps, a few camps really stood out to us.
- Kenanow Lodge is located on Kississing Lake and offers incredible lake trout fishing. Chris Matheson along with his wife Sheryl own Kenanow Lodge and we can tell you that Chris is a phenomenal guide who is dialed into the big lake trout while Sheryl prepares some of the best-homecooked meals we have ever enjoyed at a fishing camp.
- Weksusko Falls Lodge (mentioned above for top walleye fishing) is also located in the heart of some of Manitoba’s best lake trout fishing. Reed Lake in particular is very good lake trout water.
- Evergreen Lodge and Resort located on Clearwater Lake is also noteworthy. This fishing camp sits on one of Manitoba’s best lake trout fisheries.
- Bakers Narrows Lodge located on Lake Athapapuskow is also top tier for drive-to lake trout water.
For fly-in fishing camps in Manitoba, check out Elk Island Lodge and Outposts on God Lake which not only boasts huge lake trout but also big brook trout and northern pike. North Haven Trophy Fly-In Resort is also a top-tier lake trout destination located on Utik Lake. Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge mentioned above is also over the top with great lake trout opportunities for big fish. These guides and lodges are dialed into the lake trout bite all year but if you ever get an opportunity to fish lake trout in the fall when fish move shallow to spawn… you will experience life-changing fishing.
Not sure if you can find a lake or river in Manitoba that doesn’t have a strong population of northern pike… perhaps some of the isolated parkland lakes specifically managed for trout. Point being is that northern pike are common in Manitoba but what is also noteworthy is the number of fisheries capable of producing big pike. A pike has to measure 41 inches to qualify for the Manitoba Master Angler Program. When you look at entries into the program, big pike seem to come from every corner of the province. The longest pike ever recorded in the program was an impressive 60.5 inch fish from Apisko Lake.
For drive-to fishing camps in Manitoba, Weksusko Falls Lodge would be at the top of the list with nearby Tramping Lake, Wekusko Lake, and Reed Lake. Other impressive drive-to areas include Lake of the Prairies and Cedar Lake, along with the Winnipeg River (Trail End Camp and Outfitters), and Wallace Lake Lodge located on Wallace Lake. The number of drive-to camps with big pike potential is a long list but what is equally impressive is the number of fly-in fishing camps that specialize in trophy pike in Manitoba. I would argue that Manitoba is home to some of the very best trophy pike fly-in camps in Canada. Dogskin Lake Lodge is a premier fly-in lodge for trophy pike. Gangler’s Lodge is an over-the-top destination for not only big pike but also big lake trout and huge numbers of walleye.
As I finish writing this, I realize that none of these lists are fair… there is a lot more water left to explore with tremendous opportunities. I simply highlighted some of the opportunities I have personally fished in Manitoba or have secondhand information from people in my circle that have visited these fishing camps. We simply scratched the surface with this list and that is what makes Manitoba so impressive. Bottom line, there is a tremendous amount of water within Manitoba that produces some massive walleye, lake trout, and northern pike, and what is even more impressive… there are a lot of other species worth pursuing as well. Manitoba is a dream destination for anglers.