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Fishing reunion and record walleye catch at Manigotagan Lake

A wonderful Manitoba story

2015 Master Angler Record for Walleye

Our group met in college in Ohio in the late 60’s. We all shared an interest in fishing and some of us had previously fished in Ontario with family for walleye, muskie, and northern pike.

In September of 1970, we decided to organize a group fishing trip, so 7 of us ventured out to northern Manitoba. We fished around Thompson and Flin Flon and three of us caught Master Angler rainbow trout. As a result, we received and read the list of Master Angler fish caught that year. We noticed that a lot of large walleye had been caught in Manigotagan Lake.

In 1974 two of our group decided to make a trip to Manigotagan Lake to fish for Master Angler walleye as that was the fish we most often pursued. Those 2 spent a week camping and caught walleye and northern pike, but no Master Anglers. Some of our group kept in touch and started fishing together again in the mid 1980s. By this time 3 of our group had moved to Denver and the rest remained in Ohio and Michigan. We organized trips about every other year and fished in Lake Erie, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Minnesota.

2015 group reunion

In early 2015 we decided to get the original group together for a reunion fishing trip as many had now retired and had the time to make the trip. In searching for possible fishing spots, one of the two who had fished Manigotagan Lake in 1974 decided to search for fishing lodges there. They discovered Quesnel Lake Caribou Lodge and contacted Peter Slobodzian. He was very accommodating to our needs and budget, so the group decided to drive and converge at the lodge in August, 2015.

The trip and the fish

Our group had booked five days of fishing and had a very successful first four days. We caught many nice walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, with one of our party even catching a 28-inch walleye for another Master Angler award.

The last day

It was the last hour of our last day of fishing whent the big one hit. One of our group is convinced it hit because of the full moon alignment right at that moment. Who knows, but it hit hard.

I used a 3/8-ounce red and white barbless jig tipped with a worm. I knew it was a nice fish because the rod bent big time and his pull was remarkable! He fought fiercely and made two good runs away from the boat as I reeled. I kept adjusting my drag, trying to keep the line taught because I knew there was no barb to help keep him on. Andy, my boat mate, was frantically getting the net secured and the gear in the boat moved around to land the fish. Two of our group, fishing in waters close by, came over to watch this spectacle. I was reeling and Andy was frantic as we awaited this fish. He was amazing! According to Don (our walleye expert in the adjacent boat) this was the biggest walleye he had ever seen in 45 years of fishing walleye. Andy netted him as he made his last pass alongside the boat. The adrenaline was pumping as we measured him, took pictures, removed the hook and released him to fight again someday. He measured 35 1/2 inches and turned out to be a Manigotagan Lake record, as well as the 6th largest walleye ever taken in Manitoba!

This was a good fishing trip turned great in about 15 minutes. A fish of a lifetime for me!

Bill McFarlane’s big fish was the largest Master Angler walleye recorded in Manitoba in 2015.
Bill is a resident of Denver, Colorado and plans to visit Manitoba again.

Quesnel Lake Caribou Lodge