Weekends in the Whiteshell

The temperatures are finally rising and spring is in the air…..  And so is the last chance to get in some awesome winter activities. The river trail in Winnipeg may be closed and the ice fishing shacks are off the Red River, but there are still tons of fun winter activities going on in the Whiteshell in the next few weeks!

This Saturday, March 15, is the 11th annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off. This year the all-species fishing derby has $40,000 in great prizes and cash! Some of the prizes include guided fishing trips, fishing gear & equipment, a Canada One travel trip for two, and a grand prize of $10,000. Back by popular demand is the hidden weight prize of $50,000. Be sure to head down to the ice tomorrow between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to check out the derby if you haven’t already signed yourself up!

The pike that won the 2011 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off.

The pike that won the 2011 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off.

On the following weekend, Sunday, March 23, Falcon Ridge Ski Hill is having their final hurrah of the season with the Slush Cup 2014. Head on down to the ski hill to have a beverage, enjoy a chalet meal, and, most importantly, strap on your board or skis and hit the slush. Contact Falcon Ridge Ski Hill for more information. 393241_269924959727180_1795004112_n

Head on out to the Whiteshell for your  last chance of ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and other fun winter activities!

Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off

Falcon Lake has some fantastic angling opportunities, from your boat or through the ice. The Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off gives anglers the chance to catch a huge fish for some huge cash and prizes.

The pike that won the 2011 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off.

The pike that won the 2011 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off.

The 11th annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off is on Saturday, March 15 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. All the holes will be pre-drilled and all prizes are guaranteed. This is an all-species tournament, and the heaviest fish is awarded the grand prize of $10,000 cash! The great part is, you don’t need to catch a monster to win some of the awesome prizes. Prizes will be awarded down to 50th place, making for a total of $40,000 in cash and prizes. Some examples of this year’s prizes include:

• A Canada One travel trip for two plus $1,000 travel credit (2nd place).
• Ultimate ice fishing package that includes a Frabill Ambush three man flip over ice shelter, a Vexilar FL-22HD Pro View Ultra Pack Flasher, an ION Electric Power Auger, and much more (3rd place).
• A 60″ 3D Samsung Smart Plasma 1080P HDTV (4th Place).
• Shimano rods and reel package (8th place).
• Crowduck Lake Camp fishing trip (13th, 23rd, 33rd,and 43rd).
• Guided musky fishing trips, tackle, power augers, and much more! Check out the full list of prizes here.

The Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off has many great prizes including $10,000 cash for first place!

The Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off has many great prizes including $10,000 cash for first place!

Back by popular demand is the $50,000 Hidden Weight Contest. Participants that land the first 120 fish on the ice will automatically be entered into the contest. If your fish matches the hidden weight, you will win $50,000! If no one matches the hidden weights, the participants with the closest weight will still win great prizes courtesy of Frabill and Eskimo. There will be hot food and drinks all day provided by Danny’s Whole Hog and all prizes will be awarded at the Whiteshell Community Club at 3:00 pm.

This year the fish-off will be supporting the St. Amant autism program. One dollar from every ticket sold and all proceeds from the on-ice bait sales will be donated.

Adult tickets are $50 if you purchase them before March 5th, and after that they are $70 each. Second Hole and kids are just $30. You can purchase tickets at 12 ticket vendors across Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, online at www.winterfishoff.com, or over the phone at toll-free 1-866-676-FISH (3474).

Through the Ice Crappie Fishing

Written by Ian Young, Shield Outfitters owner/guide.

The Whiteshell is home to some of the best black crappie fishing in Manitoba. Crappie are good eating and fun to catch, but as an introduced species to our area not many people know much about them. Here are some tips to make your next outing a successful one.

First off, know your lake. Does it have crappie in it? Do a little research. Locals will usually give you a little information and guide you in the right direction, even if they don’t tell you their honey holes. Where to start? I like to fish the deepest hole in the lake during the winter, particularly during first ice. The deeper holes contain the warmest water and highest oxygen concentrations at certain times of the year. Both of these factors lead to more active fish.  Because crappie are a schooling fish, they can be concentrated in small area of a large lake basin, making them very tough to locate. Try and find a point of land that reaches out into a deep hole. A sunken tree or other midlake structure can also provide something for fish to relate to and is a good place to start.

The author and owner/guide of Shield Outfitters with a nice 16" crappie.

The author and owner/guide of Shield Outfitters with a nice 15.5″ crappie from the Whiteshell.

Locating crappie requires a flasher. Usually feeding crappie will be suspended halfway up the water column. I start by drilling several holes and move around from hole to hole with my flasher, moving my bait up and down through the water column to try and find a fish. If crappie are nearby they will often come over and investigate your bait and you will see them on your flasher. I would never stay at a hole that doesn’t have a fish under it for more than about five minutes without moving.

Locating fish is half the battle, and getting them to bite is the other half. Crappie can the easiest fish to catch if they are in the mood. Catching one will often trigger the competitor within them and start a feeding frenzy among the school. However more often then not, and especially in the winter, it can be very difficult to trigger that bite. Crappie can be very sluggish in the winter and may hang out and look at your bait for hours without biting. If you’re fishing on a lake that allows live bait, they will usually out-fish artificial bait. However in the Whiteshell our regulations require us to use artificial baits. So I like to use a very light, 1/16th or 1/32nd  ounce jig with a minnow shaped bait to match. To fish such light baits you need a light action rod and very light line, my preference is a 2 – 4lb fluorocarbon line. Light lines provide the best fishability with light baits, but you must be careful when setting the hook and bringing fish through the hole as it does break easily. My favorite colour to use by far is Glow. Glow baits have phosphorous in them and store the energy of light they’re exposed to and emit it slowly in the dark. This gives the bait a light green glow and makes it highly visible. Glow baits work well in the Whiteshell because many of the lakes have stained water, and there is very little light under snow-covered ice. (Try supercharging your glow baits to make them extra visible by shining a bright light on them for a few seconds before they go down the hole, I keep my headlamp in my pocket for this reason).
IMG_0470While fishing through the ice, always be open to trying something new. Sometimes even being in the right spot with the right bait doesn’t mean catching fish, especially in the winter. Cold water and short light cycles cause fish to be very finicky and not eating much, and as a result can be difficult to coax to bite. Trying new baits and techniques will never hurt… especially if you can see fish on the flasher.

In the winter presentation plays a big role in triggering the bite.  I find when the bite is real slow and I can see fish on my flasher that refuse to bite, an ultra slow presentation sometimes works. I find when I hold the rod in my hand I cannot keep it still enough for this technique. The only way is to place the rod on the ice or in a rod holder (I prefer on the ice) and watch the rod tip closely for any movement.  I watch my flasher to show me where the fish is and I’ll place my hook just in front of the fish and leave it dead still. When I see the rod tip vibrate or dip down, I’ll grab the rod and set the hook in one motion.  If it sits still for thirty seconds or so without a strike I will jig a few times to remind the fish that my bait is down there and try to trigger strike, and then let it sit still for a while again. If that doesn’t work after five minutes, I will change my lure or move to another hole and find a fish that is more receptive.IMG_0468 copyCrappie are fun to catch and delicious, but it is important to practice good conservation strategies. Always use barbless hooks and release anything you’re not going to eat. Sometimes when you get into a school of fish it can be easy to think that there are tons of fish in the lake. Remember that you have found a concentrated school of fish, and removing too many fish from that school will seriously damage the population. Also it’s important to know that the biggest fish in the school are the most successful spawners. If you do get into a group of fish and plan on taking some home, set yourself some limits. Choose to keep only fish between 10 and 12 inches. That way you can bring home a good feed while still protecting the fishery.

Crappie fishing can provide constant action. If you don’t have the equipment or knowledge to do it yourself, consider hiring a guide. It’s a great way to get the kids into fishing and the outdoors.

Good luck out there.

A Winter Woodland Expedition

During the brutal cold snap we had around New Years, there was one day that was a balmy -15C. A perfect day to go camping in the woods.

The quinzee on Caribou Lake.

The quinzee on Caribou Lake.

I have never gone winter camping before, in fact I have barely gone summer camping before. Having a grown up with a cottage on Star Lake, I never really thought to go camping. Holidays and vacation time were spent hanging out on the dock and the boathouse.

So this winter camping trip to Caribou Lake was a great new adventure for me. Caribou Lake is an isolated little lake, just northeast of Caddy Lake. It has no cottages on it and is not accessible by road, so we took the snowmobiles through the woods to get there.

Hollowing out the quinzee.

Hollowing out the quinzee.

Firewood had been previously chopped and snow had already been piled up for the quinzee. You want to do this in advance so you don’t work up a sweat before sleeping in the quinzee. We got there around two in the afternoon. About six of us had sledded in, but only two of us were going to spend the night.

We started off the day with ice fishing for walleyes. The walleye on this lake aren’t huge, but they are a perfect eater size. What is really interesting about the walleye on Caribou Lake is that they have blue fins! According to the fishing experts and zoologists I was with, this is most likely because of the water colour in the lake. Fish can vary in colour from lake-to-lake as the water colour varies. However I was told that apparently there is a certain type of blue walleye, but not found in these areas.

A very blue tail on a walleye from Caribou Lake.

A very blue tail on a walleye from Caribou Lake.

After landing about five or six fish, we hollowed our the quinzee. The previous cold snap and massive amounts of snow had made it quite firm.

Cliff copy
A large cliff with a little nook in it made the perfect natural spot for a fire as the rock cliff reflected heat back quite nicely. This was the perfect place to sit and keep warm throughout the evening, and it also was the perfect place to cook dinner. My boyfriend had brought a deer roast – An entire hind leg wrapped in tin foil. Low and behold, there was a little ledge in the side of the cliff right above the fire; a perfect place to cook the deer roast over the fire. It was a true caveman style dinner… Except we had injected our roast with garlic-infused olive oil. The deer roast cooked for over the fire for about five hours. To be honest, I wasn’t overly confident in the idea of cooking an entire roast on a rock by the fire, but it turned out to be the best deer meat I have ever had!

The deer roast cooking over the fire.

The deer roast cooking over the fire.

Sitting beside the fire.

Sitting beside the fire.

After dinner my boyfriend took the rest of the crew home on the snowmobile, giving me some time to myself in the woods. They took the remainders of the deer roast with them – And thank goodness. While I know wolves are highly, highly unlikely to approach a human, when you’re alone in the woods in the dark your mind can have a tendency to run away on you. The last thing I wanted was to be sitting there alone with a delicious garlic-infused deer roast! However I enjoyed the fire for awhile while the others were gone, and no wolves were seen.

The candlelit quinzee.

The candlelit quinzee.

When it was the end of the evening, we rolled the snow door over the quinzee for a long winter’s nap. Well, it wasn’t that long. The quinzee was candlelit and actually created a lovely atmosphere, but our only mistake was that we should have layed down a tarp inside the quinzee to provide a bit more of a barrier between us and the ice. However the temperature outside was around -20C and the inside of the quinzee stayed at about zero degrees so we had a decent temperature to sleep in.

This was a great experience and a true outdoor adventure. I would recommend anyone to give winter camping a try. If you come equipped properly it is an amazing experience and an awesome thing to check off the ol’ bucket list.

Written by Marney Blunt.

Bass Fishing in the Whiteshell

By: Jeff Gustafson

As someone who loves to fish and be on the water, growing up in Northwestern Ontario was great because there was never a shortage of top-notch fishing opportunities outside my door – I grew up with a fishing rod in my hand throughout all seasons.

Jeff Gustafson shows off a nice Falcon Lake smallmouth.

Jeff Gustafson shows off a nice Falcon Lake smallmouth.

My passion for bass fishing and competing in tournaments first brought me to the Whiteshell region back in the early 2000’s to participate in the annual opening day bass tournament on Falcon Lake, an event that has been put on by the Manitoba Bass Anglers Association for many years.

Since the tournament always took place on the opening day of the fishing season, we were never able to pre-fish (or practice) for the event.  We just showed up the day of the tournament and went fishing.  After several years we learned the lake a little bit better and our catches went up significantly.

Eventually my friends and I started making day trips over to Falcon Lake so that we could catch a bunch of fish.  It’s funny because as many people as there are that use Falcon Lake, very few of them take advantage of the great smallmouth bass fishing available there.

The author's wife with a new West Hawk Lake smallmouth.

The author’s wife with a new West Hawk Lake smallmouth.

My experience there has always been earlier in the season, in May and June and our expectations when we go there now is that we’re going to catch big numbers of fish.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever caught 100 bass in a day there, but 50 plus fish, including some really nice ones, is quite common.  Factor in the shot at a monster pike or walleye and you have a great place to fish.

As far as location goes, it’s all about finding structure around the lake.  From a boat it does not look like Falcon Lake has a lot of structure because it is so open and exposed, but when you turn on your depth finder and watch it as you troll the shoreline it quickly becomes apparent how many little bumps and humps there are around the lake, all prime bass habitat.

Baitfish make up the bulk of the diet for all sport fish in Falcon Lake, species like shiners, perch and cisco in particular so anglers should use minnow imitating lures in their pursuit of all species.  Over the years I caught hundreds of bass on three and four inch suspending jerkbaits.  Simply cast them out and work them back to the boat in a jerk-jerk-pause cadence.  Some days the fish like a longer pause, some days shorter is better.  Let the fish tell you what they want.

Across Highway 1 to the north is another gem of a lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.  West Hawk Lake may very well be the deepest lake that I have ever been on in my life.  It’s deep, cold, clear water is not the best bass habitat but the many shallow bays that surround the main basin of the lake provide plenty of good water for bass to live.  Much like Falcon, local anglers are much more interested in the walleye and lake trout that live on the lake than they are in the bass population.

A quick screen shot shows how deep the water is in the middle of West Hawk Lake. Those are lake trout, shown suspended on the screen.

A quick screen shot shows how deep the water is in the middle of West Hawk Lake. Those are lake trout, shown suspended on the screen.

The secret to finding bass on West Hawk is to find stretches of shoreline in these bays that have a sand or boulder bottom composition.  These are going to be shallower stretches of water that much of the smallmouth bass’s forage prefer.  Much like Falcon, many types of baitfish are prevalent in West Hawk so minnow imitating baits are best.

For anglers looking to visit the Whiteshell Park, I assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the beauty in the scenery or the fishing opportunities that await.  Fishing licenses can be purchased at the gas station in the heart of the town of West Hawk, one of prettiest little communities you will ever visit during the summer months.  Out of province anglers should know that Manitoba has a province wide barbless hook rule in effect, so if you visit these lakes, remember to pinch your barbs.

Today, Jeff Gustafson makes his living as a professional bass tournament angler, fishing tournaments across the United States on the Walmart FLW Tour. He is also host of his own TV fishing show called Fishing with Gussy, an active outdoor writer and photographer as well as an all-season fishing and hunting guide.  You can find him online at www.gussyoutdoors.com 

Jeff Gustafson on-stage at a 2013 FLW Tour bass tournament.

Jeff Gustafson on-stage at a 2013 FLW Tour bass tournament.

14 Reasons Why Winter Rules in the Whiteshell

So the snow is here, the temperatures are dropping, winter has begun. If you live in Manitoba, a bad case of the wintertime blues may be setting in.

Well, it’s time to bundle up and embrace the climate. Honestly, winter can be fun! Especially if you take a quick drive out to the Whiteshell on the weekends. Here’s 14 reasons why winter rules in the Whiteshell. Give them a try, it might just change the way you feel about Manitoba winters:

IMG_18471 – Walking in a Whiteshell wonderland – As proved in the past few weeks, winters in the Whiteshell are breathtaking. Frozen snowed-covered lakes and tall pine and spruce trees decorated with a dusting of snow and hoar frost – The Whiteshell in the winter is a dream. Take a break from the slushy-salted streets of the city and you’ll see!

2 – Cross-country skiing – There’s no better way to stay in shape than cross-country skiing, and in the Whiteshell scenery really beats staring at a TV screen in the gym. Cross-country skiing is a great full body workout and easy on the joints. The Whiteshell is full of beautiful groomed ski trails including the South Whiteshell trail, and come check out the new section connecting High Lake to the Falcon townsite along the south shore of the lake. The Falcon Ridge Ski Hill is a great facility and has a beautiful network of trails as well. Whether you prefer hill climbs and downhills or a flat trail across the lake – The Whiteshell has got them all.

IMG_10013 – Snowmobiling – The Whiteshell also has some of the most beautiful groomed snowmobile trails in Manitoba. The Whiteshell has a large network of groomed snowmobile trails that run from lake-to-lake. The Whiteshell Snowmobile Club has erected and maintained warm up shelters along many of the main trails, so even  out in the wilderness you’re never far from a warm fire.

4 – Ice fishing – Northern pike, walleyes, crappies, lake trout, and dozens of stocked trout lakes – The Whiteshell has some of the best fishing in the province, both from the boat and through the ice. There’s nothing like spending a day on the lake enjoying the scenery, catching dinner, or watching the graphs to see the master anglers following your bait up to the surface. Every March is the annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish Off, an all-species fishing tournament that awards over $40,000 in cash and prizes and $10,000 to the heaviest fish.

IMG_18105 –  Falcon Ridge Ski Hill – Down-hill, cross-country, snowboarding, biathlon, or tubing; over on the far side of Falcon Lake is a happening place known as Falcon Ridge Ski Hill. Falcon Ridge has several groomed runs for both beginners, intermediates, and even a park with rails, boxes, and jumps. The ski hill also has a network of beautiful groomed-ski trails, a biathlon course, and downhill tubing. The chalet at Falcon Ridge is a great hangout with great food and drink and a talented live music act every Sunday throughout the winter. The ski hill will also be hosting Snowdance Festival of Music and Winter on January 18 and 19.

IMG_25976 – Biathlon – There’s not too many places in Manitoba where you can check out biathlon, and Falcon Lake is one of them. Come watch the biathlon races held at Falcon Ridge or take the opportunity to get involved with Biathlon Manitoba. Race ates include the Manitoba Cup Races [Cup #1, Dec. 14th + 15th (snow dependent)], [Cup #2, January 11th + 12th], [Cup #3 & 4, Feb. 15th + 16th], Biathlon Provincial Championships on February 22nd & 23rd, Cadet Biathlon Provincials on Feb. 1st & 2nd, and Masters Cross Country Ski Race on Feb. 8th. Also, biathlon at Falcon Lake produced a Olympian – Who just qualified for the Sochi 2014 Olympics!

7 – Beaver Days – Probably the biggest community event in the Whiteshell during the winter, and this year February 7 – 9 will mark the 40th anniversary of Beaver Days. The event includes a snowmobile poker derby, a sponge hockey tournament, a Texas holdem tournament, several kids activities, and much more. Stay tuned for details from Experience the Whiteshell.

8 – Curling – The Whiteshell curling club has a great league that runs through the winter. Weekly draws are going on already and the bar is open if you’d like to come watch. The club also hosts a bonspiel in the spring – enter a team and enjoy a weekend at the lake at the same time.

9- The new outdoor hockey rink – The Whiteshell Community Club now has a beautiful new outdoor hockey rink, recently redone by a group of dedicated locals. The ice is great and available to all members of the Whiteshell Community Club.

1469830_10152078513746810_78396146_n10 – Whiteshell Hockey League – What’s a new skating rink without a new hockey league? The Whiteshell Hockey League is kicking off  with an opening tournament on December 6 and 8 at the Community Club. Games will be going on every Wednesday evening throughout the winter with playoffs February 28 to March 2.

11- Snow shoeing – Big open lakes and back-county trails in the Whiteshell are a great place for snow shoeing. Come experience some true wilderness by floating across the deep snow on your snowshoes.

12 – Sleigh rides at Falcon Beach Ranch – Taking a scenic drive on a horse-drawn sleigh? Nothing says winter wonderland more than that. Contact Falcon Beach Ranch to setup a sleigh ride.

IMG_0918_213 – Wildlife – Wolves running across the frozen lake, white-tailed deer lightly stepping through the deep snow, a great grey owl perched on top of a pine tree – There are always some fantastic wildlife sightings in the Whiteshell. The frozen lakes make it easier for wildlife to travel around through the park, making it far more likely for you to see wildlife that you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year.

IMG_184414 – Serenity – There’s nothing more peaceful than curling up by the fire in a cozy cabin and watching the snowflakes fall. Don’t have your own cabin? No problem – The Whiteshell has lots of beautiful cabins that are available to rent year round.

Stay tuned for more details on these activities and events throughout the winter.

Photos by Emily Christie & Marney Blunt.

The Legends of the Fall

There is no fish, and no time of year…that has generated more fishing stories than fall musky fishing.  For the big fish-angler, no question, the October/November time frame is the annual crusade to catch a ‘Legend of the Fall: the elusive musky!  At Shield Outfitters, we spend most of our time guiding the Whiteshell as a rule… but there are exceptions. Since there are no muskies in the Whiteshell, one must trailer down the street to Lake of the Woods for some of the best musky fishing in the world. There, we spend a day or two every year with clients who are looking for the fishing experience of a lifetime… and we are happy to oblige.

ChunkyMuskyKyle2012crop copyMuskies require some specialized gear and knowledge, but even a beginner can make it happen with a little guidance.  Armed with an array of trolling baits, and the following game plan, we regularly put our clients on the fish they are looking for.

Fishing for one of the ‘Legends of the Fall’ can be exhilarating, but one has to be prepared to put in time paying their dues. People look at you strangely as you tell them of trolling during blowing snow, or breaking ice to launch your rig. One must experience it to capture its many rewards, and there are many. Actually landing a musky is just one of them. Those who focus just on the catching, quickly lose interest, as the long ‘flat lining’ between strikes can lead to discouragement. When the focus is on the hunt, the joy of the sport reveals itself.

IcePole copyRobert Service in his poem, Spell of the Yukon, articulated this beautifully when he wrote: “Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting so much as just finding the gold.” This is something curiously more understandable when we are very young. Musky hunting is not fishing; it is angling’s great adventure.

For those who are not big fish veterans, let me first frame the fall season for you. The shorter days and colder nights of September drop water temps, and sunlight hours wane. This triggers a seasonal reaction in the entire food chain. Ciscoes and whitefish that were in the deeper waters of the lake now begin to move shallower, coming onto contact with shoreline lips and reefs.

Summer musky hunters, casting buck tails and jerk baits at open water reefs, hope to trigger muskies that are resting in the shallow warmer water. This elevated water temperature increases their metabolism, allowing them to digest more efficiently… then it’s back down to the smorg. Now that fall is here, their deep water forage (ciscoes) move up and reefs become ambush points, not just a place to relax after a meal. Now, instead of dropping buck tails up in tight near the visible reef, bumping a deep diving bait 10 – 20 ft. down, across the tongue of a reef is the ticket.


Dave snow-trolling.

Environments like Lake of the Woods present some very visible starting points for those still looking for their first fish – islands and reefs. Islands often have shoreline lips that extend out into the deep water. These shallower lips may hold spawning ciscoes as the fall progresses. Reefs also invite roaming schools of walleye/ciscoes, so troll from island to reef, from reef to island, etc, etc, etc.  While trolling at this time of year we are sure to making contact with the bottom from time to time, as bouncing off rocks triggers strikes. And as we move along the island/reef lip, we are sure to cross the point into open water. Do NOT reel in and blast to the next spot, troll there if it is not too far. You may draw a player off the point/reef and he may need some thought time before he commits (female anglers will relate to this :))

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMuskies will often suspend over deeper water underneath baitfish schools, so the deep water off reefs and island points cannot be ignored. Those who just concentrate on the reefs and islands alone miss out on some truly big fish water. NB: The thing that “gold plates” a reef, an island, or a stretch of open water, is the presence of baitfish, the more baitfish, the more potential. I often refer to the old National Geographic specials with the impressive herds of gazelles grazing on the African Plain. Nearby there will always be a pride of lions in the tall grass. Hmmm.

The game plan pure and simple: Go to musky waters (Eagle Lake, Lake of the Woods, Winnipeg River, to name just a few), and troll the crank bait of your choice 3-5 mph through a predetermined route of islands and reefs.  As fall progresses and water temperature drops, your trolling speed should drop with it. Be sure to note on your sonar the areas and depths you are encountering the greatest concentration of baitfish. These spots will become your “milk run” on day 2.Lee Smith muskie (2) my space copySome of our favourite trolling baits are the 10” Believer, Mirro-lure, Jumbo Rapalas, Jakes, Grannies, and even Reef Runners. We provide them all, as well as rods and reels. If you are looking to buy, then your local tackle retailer will set you up with the right reel, pole, the lures mentioned, and more (Figure 8 Baits in Kenora is a musky specialty shop and is excellent – just ask for Ryan). The important thing is to have baits that will troll at varying depths to put you in the zone. The baitfish tell you where the zone is, so pay attention. Oh yes, most important of all, buy, borrow, or make, a musky cradle. Nets are very hard on the fish (split tails), and if you hold a fish up by the gill plate, make sure it is just a quick photo then release it. Holding a fish vertical for an extended time could cause internal damage. We usually take two or three quick shots including the release. Cradling the fish in your arms is an option but leave your suede jacket at home. 🙂Tannis muskie crop copyHere are some closing thoughts for those who have caught muskies and now hunt for the fish of fishes…muskies over 52”. Consistently catching these bruisers often means a different approach. Some time ago I guided a friend to a personal best 54 incher that was featured in a local fishing mag. This fish was caught on a 10” Believer trolled along a island rock wall over 55 ft. of water. In the fall, this is a favourite haunt of big fish. They will tuck in along the wall, or suspend under schools of baitfish moving along these underwater palisades.

The more structural elements you have in association with these walls the better. This particular location is situated at a necked down area connecting two major bodies of water with an island and an open water reef close by, but it’s still not worth a look until the baitfish show up, and then…I can’t stop working a spot like this. All it takes is for one “Legend of the Fall” to show itself and you would fish a year straight without a bite to see her again. That’s fall musky fishin’, angling’s great adventure, and I love it.

– Dave Abbott, Shield Outfitters guide.

Reeling In With Shield Outfitters


To some it’s a relaxing day in the outdoors, enjoying being on the water and experiencing nature. To others, it is a stringer of walleye and a shore lunch, or perhaps the family dinner that follows a successful day on the pond. Then again, to some it is the thrill of a rod bending, unseen giant stripping line off against a feebly resisting drag; the adrenaline spike from the first glimpse of a massive trophy fish. And finally, if the angler wins the battle, the high fives and loud enthusiasms of the victory that cannot be explained, only understood.

Shield Outfitters caters to them all. And in royal fashion, for the Shield Outfitters guides have the great privilege to guide their clients to memorable catches on some of the most picturesque lakes found in North America – in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Whether it’s slab crappies, elusive trophy walleye, tackle-busting monster northern pike, or the acrobatic smallmouth bass, Shield Outfitters can provide the experience any angler is looking for.

As the seasons roll by, each species takes its turn at center stage. First the walleye action lights up after ice out, only distracted by the huge lake trout available on a consistent basis in the spring. Then it’s the crappie, followed by the smallmouth bass and northern pike in June, leading us into the summer patterns that offer all species on an equal footing. Late summer means walleye action is about to explode again, and look out for those giant northerns – September is the time!
dianerelease copyShield Outfitters has made many a trophy hunter’s dream come true. They have even guided to a provincial record, the crappie fly fishing mark was set on a Shield Outfitters excursion. Ian Young, AJ Gill, and Dave Abbott are the Shield Outfitters angling team that has years of combined success guiding clients to unforgettable catches, memorialized by great photos of their angling experiences in the Whiteshell.
BeaverDaysTrout copyFor those trophy hunters with Lake of the Woods muskie on their mind, giant walleyes through the ice on Lake Winnipeg, Red River catfish, or even the massive freshwater drum of Lake Manitoba, Shield Outfitters will trailer up and guide you to the action.

Ian_LOTWeye copyIn addition to trophy angling, Shield Outfitters also guides to family fishing experiences, wilderness tripping, and back country angling (for lake trout), as well as winter adventures, igloo building, and ice fishing. If your idea of fishing is more of a day on the water with friends and family complete with catching your own shore lunch, Shield Outfitters has got you’ve covered.

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Shield Outfitters. Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Catch the excitement!

For more information on Shield Outfitters, visit http://www.shieldoutfitters.com. To book a guided fishing trip call the Falcon Lake Marina at 1(204)-349-8923 and ask for Ian or e-mail ian.flmarina@gmail.com