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

12th Annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off

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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 Fish Hatchery

The Whiteshell Fish Hatchery was built in 1942, and is an important part of Whiteshell history and fishery conservation.

The hatchery raises fish from eggs to be stocked in sport fishing lakes across Manitoba, ranging from the United States border and extending up to The Pas. The hatchery is located just off Highway 312 between West Hawk Lake and Ingolf, Ontario. The highway was non-existent when the hatchery was built, so a crude road was built from Highway 44 to bring in materials. Heavy equipment was brought in the winter by horse and sleigh.

Inside the interpretive centre at the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery.

Inside the interpretive centre at the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery.

Continue reading

A Frozen Obsession

Many people don’t understand the sport of ice fishing. Many people wonder why anyone would want to sit out in the cold, staring at a hole in the ice, waiting and hoping for some legendary fish will come out of it. However, as the anglers in this documentary will show you, it’s so much more than that. Many Manitobans prefer to embrace winter with their love of chasing an adventure in the great outdoors, and there’s no better place to do so than in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Here is a brief documentary about why people love to do this crazy Canadian pastime known as ice fishing. Filmed in the Whiteshell at the 2014 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off and on West Hawk Lake with Shield Outfitters.

Filmed/edited by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor.

 

Aron Coates Fine Art Studio

Coming from a construction background in West Hawk Lake, Aron Coates has been making the shift from construction to design and is currently working on his Masters in architecture at the University of Manitoba. Aron has built a beautiful portfolio consisting of a wide range of construction, sculptures, paintings, and design/drafting. Much of his work is inspired by and relates to the Whiteshell Provincial Park, particularly from hunting and fishing trips. Most of Aron’s artwork begins with the use of photography, and is then transformed into paintings. Here are a few examples of his Whiteshell-inspired work:Sailing LakeIMG_0847

Waiting for Ducks - PhotoWaiting for DucksWaiting for Ducks

These photos and paintings are from a duck hunting trip in the Whiteshell. These images are perfect examples of Aron’s ability to replicate photos with artwork. The first painting captures the early morning mist rising off the lake as they boat to their hunting spot, and the second painting portrays sitting in the bulrushes and waiting for ducks to fly overhead in the early morning sunrise.

IMG_0586IMG_0594Trout

This trout fish sculpture was done in winter 2009 using a 8″ radius ball of plaster. It was Aron’s first sculpture and may be his best to date. He began the project by poring liquid plaster into a plastic bag.

George TroutThis painting replicates a lake trout caught during an October deer hunting trip on George Lake.Post Foundations-Clay

Post Foundations-Clay 2Artistic Building Solution

These are two beautiful post foundation sculptures that are in-progress at Caddy Lake. The inspirations of these sculptures stems from a passion of fishing in the Whiteshell and from the concept of integrating water and fish. The sculptures are of two popular species in the area: Lake trout (see top photo) and walleye.
The project started from carving away at a solid piece of plaster. With this project, Aron intended on using the two different species of fish and the flowing water as a geometric pattern by using deep cuts into the clay.Post Foundations-Plaster CastPost Foundations-Concrete castPost Foundations-Concrete 2Post Foundations-ConcreteYou can see more of Aron’s work at aroncoates.com.

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).