Fin + Bone 4: Four ways to Experience the Whiteshell this May long weekend

Written by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor, for Fin + Bone 4:

Finally it is here! The May long weekend. The start of another season of summer time lake living in the beautiful cottage country of the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Whether you’ve been coming out to the lake all winter or you’re just opening up the cabin for another season, here are some things you can do to kick off the season. I recently wrote my top four picks of things to do on the May long weekend for Fin +Bone magazine. Have a look here and have a great May long weekend:

Glassy calm waters, echoing loon calls, eagles soaring overhead, towering pine trees, the eerie howls of wolves in the distance: These are just a few of the enchanting sights and sounds that many lucky people have experienced in the Whiteshell Provincial Park over the summer season.

Glad to say I’m one of those lucky people. Growing up with a cottage in the beautiful Canadian Shield terrain of the south Whiteshell has given me plenty of opportunities to venture throughout this gorgeous part of our province.

The older I’ve gotten, the more time I’ve spent in the Whiteshell during the ‘off season’. Truthfully, I love the Whiteshell in all four seasons, 365 days of the year. I honestly couldn’t think of a time I haven’t been excited to head down Highway 44 towards the lake. But growing up, the May long weekend was always an extra special time. While I was in school, the May long weekend was always the official start of another summer season of lake living. It meant school was almost done, and it was a taste of a few of the fun and exciting adventures I would get to do all summer long.

So to give you a taste of a few great things to do during the spring and summer season in this magical land known as the Whiteshell, here’s four ways you can experience the Whiteshell this May long weekend:

McGillivray Falls.

McGillivray Falls.

Hike the Whiteshell

One of my favourite things to do in the Whiteshell during the spring is hike the McGillivray Falls trail. McGillivray Falls is a self-guided, glacier-formed trail that is potentially one of the best trails to hike during the spring season as the rapids are rushing down from McGillivray Lake into Caddy Lake. The trail is located off Highway 44 near the Caddy Lake turnoff. The trail also features a shorter 2.8 km loop or a longer 4.8 km loop.

Mild temperatures and no bugs make the May long weekend one of the best times to hit up the hiking trails of the Whiteshell, and there are several other trails you might want to check out this weekend. Another great hike is the Hunt Lake trail, which is a 12.6 km trail that edges along the outskirts of Hunt Lake and the east side of West Hawk Lake, heading north towards Indian Bay. My favourite time to do this trail is at sunset, you can get a stunning view of the sunset over West Hawk Lake from the top of a tall cliff on the east shore. Another great one to do is the South Whiteshell trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail. Last August, a new portion of this trail opened up leading from the causeway (near the Falcon Lake Marina on the south shore of Falcon Lake) through the woods behind Falcon Lake and into the secluded and picturesque High Lake.

Hunt Lake.

Hunt Lake.

Cast a line in the Whiteshell

I’ve always loved fishing at the lake, as I little girl I mastered the art of catching tiny smallmouth bass in our boathouse at Star Lake. That was really all I knew, and it was all I needed to know to have fun. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was shown the ropes of fishing that I became, excuse the cheesy pun, completely hooked on it.

Although I still have a lot to learn, I can say one thing for sure: The May long weekend and walleye fishing just go hand-in-hand. Nothing says the start of opening fishing season like jigging for that huge master walleye or just heading out on the water to catch dinner. With a healthy population of beautiful fish, Falcon Lake is a walleye angler’s paradise. Last year, a lot of walleye were in the 23-27” range… So maybe in coming years the lake will be filled with masters, just saying. walleyeCheck out the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery

The Whiteshell Fish Hatchery is an amazing combination of history and fishery conservation. I had the awesome opportunity to tag along with some of the hatchery staff last year while they collected eggs and tagged walleye on Falcon Lake. The walleye eggs are then taken back to the hatchery where they will remain in incubator containers for about 21 days before reaching the eyed-egg stage, which last about six to ten days for walleye. The eggs then hatch into tiny fish referred to as ‘fry’, at this stage the walleye are stocked into the lakes. The survival rate for young fish at the hatchery can be 80 per cent, whereas in the wild the survival rate is one per cent.

The hatchery raises both cool water fish (walleye, northern pike, and lake sturgeon) and cold water fish (rainbow trout, brook trout, brown lake trout, arctic char, and trout hybrids including splake and tiger trout). The hatchery has big outdoor tanks where you can see a brood stock that includes brook trout, brown trout, tiger trout, and even lake sturgeon. But why am I telling you all this, get down there and check it out for yourself! One of the friendly staff at the hatchery would be more than happy to give you a tour. hatchery2 sturgPaddle the Whiteshell

I once had the opportunity to see the Whiteshell via floatplane, and it was mind-boggling how many lakes there are so close together. The Whiteshell is an endless chain of lakes just waiting to be explored. There are so many opportunities for different canoe and kayak routes, with easy portages between them. A classic and one of the most well known canoe routes is probably the Caddy Lake rock tunnels. You can rent a boat or canoe from Green Bay Resort or Caddy Lake Resort and head out through Caddy Lake and into South Cross Lake, and then through South Cross through the second tunnel into North Cross Lake. Several camping spots are located along the way and there is prime fishing in all three lakes. There are also several other lakes that are within portaging distance of this canoe route. canoe

Bait your hook, drop your line, and jig em’ up…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

A time of the year so many Manitoban anglers anticipate… The opening day of the 2015/2016 fishing season. This Saturday, May 9 marks the first day of open water fishing in the Whiteshell. Whether it’s walleye, black crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike, or lake trout that you fancy, be sure head out to the Whiteshell Provincial Park this weekend to catch those first fish of the season in one of the beautiful lakes in the park.

IMG_3029IMG_3154For the more competitive anglers, be sure to come out and fine tune your jigging skills for the 2015 Walleye Masters Cup on Falcon Lake, scheduled for Saturday, June 6 this year. The tournament is in support of the Central Walleye Trail, Fish Futures, and the Never Alone Foundation. Continue reading

Whiteshell Business: West Hawk Lake Resort

011It’s a cozy cabin to come back to after a long snowmobile ride; it’s a place to get together with friends and family; it’s a beautiful deck to sit on and enjoy the summer day; it’s all at West Hawk Lake Resort.

002Located in the recently upgraded West Hawk town site, West Hawk Lake Resort offers a variety of cozy cabins that are in close proximity to West Hawk’s beach, hiking trails, snowmobile trail, and all of the West Hawk businesses.

Continue reading

12th Annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off

1920604_700218693333921_2113217629_n

Photo by Jay Siemens.

There’s more than $40,000 in cash and prizes swimming around the depths of Falcon Lake – So why not get drop a line in and reel up some cash during the 12th annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off, scheduled for Saturday, March 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this year.

As always, all the prizes are guaranteed and the holes are pre-drilled. Catch the heaviest fish and you’re guaranteed to win $10,000 cash! Prizes are awarded down to 50th place, giving you the chance to win a variety of prizes or cash.
Photo by Jay Siemens.

Photo by Jay Siemens.

Back by popular demand, is the $50,000 Hidden Weight Contest. Simply catch one of the first 120 fish and you’re automatically entered into the contest. If your fish matches the hidden weight, you win $50,000! If nobody matches the weight, then the angler with the closest weight will receive a Frabill Headquarters six-person ice shelter.cash
The Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off is once again proudly supporting the St.Amant Autism Program. The tournament will be donating $1 from every ticket sold, as well as all the proceeds from on-ice bait sales. In addition, St.Amant will be doing a 50/50 draw on the ice! Last year’s 50/50 winner took home $3,595 and a total of $5,824 was raised for St.Amant!

unnamedAdult tickets are $50 before March 11, then $70. Second hole and kids are just $30. You can purchase tickets at 13 ticket vendors across Manitoba and NW Ontario, online at www.winterfishoff.com or over the phone at toll-free 1-866-676-FISH (3474).

To get your ice fishing-stoke on, check out this short ice fishing documentary, filmed at last year’s Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off.

– Compiled by Andrew Klassen & Marney Blunt.
– Photos by Jay Siemens.
– Video by Marney Blunt.

Whiteshell Winters: Brian Gould Photography

The Whiteshell Provincial Park is a picturesque landscape for 365 days a year. In winter, the crystal-white snow, hoar frost, frozen lakes, and crisp clear blue skies prove this for a fact. And Falcon Lake cottager and photographer, Brian Gould, knows how to capture that scenery with a camera. Have a look of this gorgeous series of winter photos captured by photographer Brian Gould in the Falcon Lake area: 623-M 24-M 27-M 31-M Continue reading

The 41st Annual Beaver Days Winter Festival

The 41st annual Beaver Days Winter Festival is one darn good reason to spend a winter weekend in the Whiteshell.

Whether you’re heading out to the lake with a group of friends or your family, the Beaver Days Winter Festival in Falcon Lake/West Hawk Lake is the perfect way to spend an action-packed weekend in the Whiteshell. The fun and games begins Friday, February 6 at the Whiteshell Community Club, located on Highway 301 right beside the Falcon Lake entrance. Here’s a schedule of events and activities happening throughout the weekend:

websitelogo

Continue reading

2015 Snowdance Festival of Music + Winter

68456_686433198076352_1639633397_nThe Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes are well-known for their music scene, with just about every employee at the hill being a singer, songwriter, or musician. If you’ve ever been in the ski chalet for live music on Sunday afternoons or during a concert, you’ll know this for a fact.  And if you want to check out their music scene and get a true taste of winter in the Whiteshell, then the Snowdance Festival of Music and Winter is what you’re looking for. Now in its fourth year, the annual festival is scheduled for this upcoming weekend, Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18. Each year the event seems to keep getting bigger, and this year the folks at Falcon Ridge are geared up for yet another fun weekend of music and outdoor activities. Even the weather is supposed to cooperate! 1545124_686432894743049_1937661563_n 1528495_686434858076186_1639403337_nThe fun all starts on Saturday afternoon live music in the chalet and several outdoor activities. In true Canadian fashion, some of the outdoors activities happening throughout the weekend include igloo building, trapping demonstrations, canvas tent cabins, bannock-making, chilli-eating, hot chocolate-sipping, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, skating, turkey shoot, snow-ga, shinny hockey, sauna, a polar bear swim, and, of course, snowboarding, downhill skiing, and tubing. 1554532_686432978076374_1951544883_n1601561_686433121409693_1608695562_n1017398_686435194742819_624286109_nSome of the talented musical acts that will kickoff the festival on Saturday afternoon include The Heinrichs Maneuver, Holly Stratton, and Slow Spirit. The music will carry on into an evening dance party with Biped Radio, The Mad Trappers, Shotgun Jimmie, The Sheena Band, and DJ Co-op. The festival music starts back up on Sunday with Railroad Tye, Red Moon Road, The Reverend Rambler, and Kacy + Clayton. There will also be musical workshops offered on both days. 1505306_686433788076293_563554658_n1535639_686433694742969_123098480_n1618690_686433441409661_2127754596_nSnowdance is truly a great way to embrace Whiteshell winters and enjoy great local talents as well. For more information on Snowdance or for ticket prices, head here. To get a taste of what to expect throughout the weekend, check out this video of last year’s Snowdance Festival. See you this weekend in the Whiteshell!

— Written/compiled by Marney Blunt & Emily Christie. — Photos by Emily Christie.

2015 Whiteshell Winter Wonderland Bucket List

IMG_0535 copyWinter is officially here… And we Manitobans can make it through this. Although the past few weeks have been surprisingly mild, you may be waiting for the times where you’ll be scraping your car windows, getting stuck in the deep, heavy snow, or freezing at the bus stop. However, as stated once before on this blog, winter rules in the Whiteshell, and we’re not just saying that. Some even say winter is their favourite season at the lake. Winter is what you make it, and the Whiteshell has endless opportunities for fun winter activities in the most beautiful and scenic place in Manitoba. So instead of staying cooped up inside counting down the days until the snow melts, bundle up and venture out to the winter wilderness wonderland of the Whiteshell, where winter truly rules. To kick off a season of winter fun, here is our 2015 Whiteshell Winter Wonderland Bucket List: Continue reading