This information was supplied by Wayne Phillips, renowned outdoor journalist, master angler, and long-time friend of C.R.C.O.’s.
FISHING CHURCHILL RIVER COUNTRY
An unbelievably wide range of fishing exists in Churchill River country. Churchill River country consists largely of La Ronge Provincial Park and some waters beyond Otter Rapids. Missinipe makes the perfect jumping off spot for fishing the whole area.
Along Highway 102 you find a string of lakes that are all road accessible. Some of the lakes require a short portage of about half a kilometre. Other lakes are along established canoe routes and a few are interesting spots that need a short portage or two to reach. The best watercrafts for fishing this area are those that are easy to portage. Hence canoes, kayaks, light inflatables, float tubes and rowed one-man pontoon boats are ideal.
This guide is meant to provide fishing techniques and tactics, information on the stocking of exotic trout species in the area and mostly to foster a greater appreciation of our marvelous northern fishing resource.
Fish are a renewable resource. Of all user groups, recreational anglers put by far the most pressure on this resource. Catch and release is strongly advised. Using barbless hooks allows for anglers to release fish without harming them. Barbless lures are also safer for anglers to use, especially when children are fishing.
PIKE AND WALLEYE FISHING
Pike and walleye are common in nearly all lakes. Fishing for them does not require specialized tackle or fishing knowledge. Begin your search for them above and below rapids, in and around narrows, near points and around islands. Both species prefer shallower water, less than four or five metres deep, so lighter spoons and jigs work well.Â
Preferred tackle is a light spinning rod and reel loaded with either six or eight pound test monofilament. Many anglers use wire leaders, but these are costly and tend to kink badly after catching a fish or two. If you want to prevent pike from taking your lures, simply knot on a foot long piece of 30 to 35 pound test mono to the regular mono on your reel using an Albright Knot. Tying instructions for this simple knot are available on line.
Pike prefer weedy areas, especially those below a rapid or narrows. The favorite lure is a Len Thompson Five of Diamonds (red and yellow) spoon. A slow retrieve will usually bring strikes. Fly fishers can do very well with large red and yellow streamers. Ideal fly rod weights are from 8 to 12, depending on the size of flies you are casting. Floating and sink tip lines work best.Â Rather than a wire leader, use a piece of 30 to 60 pound mono knotted to a 12 pound test 7 foot leader using an Albright Knot.
From opening weekend until near the end of June, lake trout can be taken on flies. Use the same gear as for pike. Full sink lines will produce the most action. Early in the year, lakers can be found near shore in fairly shallow water. Once again red and yellow flies work best. For spinning gear, use split shot or a diving plane to get your lures down deep. The reliable Five of Diamonds and red and yellow Flatfish are the best lures.Â
Walleye fall for jigs with soft plastic bodies. If you like to add bait to this already deadly combination, frozen minnows or leeches work well. Live minnows are not allowed in Saskatchewan waters. Like pike, walleye are attracted to areas with current. They can be found along rock faces that have a steep dropoff.
Yellow perch are fairly common in these waters. Tiny jigs or spoons tipped with half a frozen minnow are all that is needed if you want to catch perch.
SPECIFIC PIKE AND WALLEYE WATERS
It would be impossible to list all the pike and walleye waters. Here are a few lakes and streams that provide excellent angling opportunities. Note that lakes are listed in alphabetical order.
An excellent place to troll for pike and lake trout while paddling across it. Lake trout are near the surface from season opening until around the end of June.
Great pike and walleye fishing. Ideal to fish if you are going after trout in Mekewap Lake.
DEVIL LAKE CHAIN
Pike and walleye galore above and below rapids and in narrows. Trolling a Five of Diamonds or a jig with a chartreuse soft plastic body will almost always get you dinner.
A short portage off Grandmother Bay. Walleye fishing can be superb here.
Early in the season walleye and sauger move through the rapids. Before keeping any walleye or sauger for the table, give the fish a gentle squeeze in front of its anus. If a milky liquid comes out, it is a male. Keeping only males means higher walleye and sauger stocks in the future. Pike are plentiful in and around the rapids. Perch, including very large perch, are present as well.
A five minute portage off Little Deer Lake. Walleye and pike fishing is good, especially in the creek mouth near the portage. A charming little lake that sees very little fishing pressure.
A perfect place to go after pike and walleye when going to or coming from trout fishing on Mekewap Lake.
EXOTIC TROUT WATERS
Saskatchewan supports an active trout stocking program. The fish are stocked in smaller lakes that do not have creeks flowing into the lake or from the lake. Some anglers are intimidated by fishing for trout, but there is no need to be if you follow a few basic techniques. For the most part, trout prey on insects as their major food source. Since insects are most active at dawn and dusk, you should concentrate your fishing at these times as well. Since dawn comes so early, it is best to fish once the sun goes down. Dress warmly, bring along insect repellent and fish until long after midnight. Make certain you are familiar with the waters you are planning to fish if fishing after dark. Carry a flashlight or headlamp for extra light should you need it.
Tiny spoons and small spinners will catch trout. But fly fishing will increase your catch rate three or four fold. You can easily troll flies with spinning gear if you add a split shot or two to your line. For most trout fishing, it is best to use a 5 to 8 weight fly rod. For fly gear, floating lines work well at night. During the day, full sink or sinktip lines produce best.
Saskatchewan trout waters have an abundant aquatic insect population. Due to the incredible numbers of nymphs, dry fly action is not very common. Our trout do not seem very sophisticated so your flies do not have to be very exact. Flies that are scruffy and feature some movement will usually find trout. Basic nymphs like Woolly Buggers, Prince, pheasant tails, cased caddis, damselfly, leeches and water boatman are all successful.
Float tubes or one man rowed pontoon boats are perfect for these lakes. Canoes and kayaks are also a good choice. Cast and retrieve or simply troll your fly near shore after dark and hang on. Trout move into the shallows to feed, but they are extra wary. A stealthy approach will put you into trout after trout. If you use a motor, it is best to select an electric motor as it creates the least disturbance.
SPECIFIC STOCKED TROUT WATERS
For each specific lake, the various trout species stocked will be listed. Lakes are listed in alphabetical order.
Km. 69 on Highway 102. Last stocked with 2,100 splake in 2007. Portage in about half a kilometre. There should still be a few splake left from the last stocking. Begin fishing close along the west shoreline. Fishes best after dark or before noon. If you see no surface activity, it is likely there are very few trout left in Althouse Lake.
Km 120 on Highway 102. Stocked annually with 2,000 rainbow trout. Portage is only a few steps. This long narrow lake is a typical Shield Country lake. Cast toward shore and slowly retrieve your flies or lures. Fish it very close to shore in the evenings.
Km. 77 on Highway 102. Since 2007, stocked annually with 4,000 brook trout. Portage less than half a kilometre. From previous stockings there are still some larger brown trout in Lussier Lake. One of the few lakes that fishes well during the day as well as after dark. Fish are all over the lake. A perfect place to wind drift and catch trout. Bushy nymphs like Woolly Buggers fool many trout. Very picturesque lake.
At the junction of Highway 2 and 165. Stocked annually. You can drive right to the lake. One year it receives 2,000 brown trout and the next year 2,000 brook trout. The perfect place to fish for trout on the way to the Churchill River or when returning home. Fish near shore, especially the west and north shorelines, using large bushy nymphs.
47 kilometres north of La Ronge. Stocked every second year with 14,000 rainbow trout. Coming in from Lynx Lake, it takes three fairly short portages to reach Mekewap. From MacKay Lake it takes five short portages to get to Mekewap. This is a perfect loop to take if you want to spend a day or two camping and fishing. Note there is good pike and walleye fishing in Contact Lake and Sulphide Lake, so if you strike out on trout, you can still fish for pike and walleye.
This is without a doubt Saskatchewan's most beautiful trout lake, as well as its best trout lake. Mekewap's jade-colored waters are matched by the rainbow trout with their jade-colored backs. Mekewap is one of the few trout lakes where you find trout rising consistently to dry flies. Fish are found all over this lake, but the south and west shorelines are good places to begin. Fishes well all day, but it really shines at dusk and until the wee hours of the morning. Pack both dry flies like midges, Elk Hair Caddis and Parachute Adams and smaller dark nymphs like pheasant tails, Prince and mayfly emergers for the best fishing.
Km. 66 on Highway 102. Stocked every other year with both 3,000 splake and 3,000 tiger trout. Right next to the road. The best fishing is after dark. Move slowly and quietly right next to shore. Trolling large bushy flies like Muddler Minnows and Woolly Buggers will have even beginners catching trout. A split shot or two on spinning gear will also catch trout.