Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Apr 4 2015, Page 68

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - April 4, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C14 C 14 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2015 OUTDOORS winnipegfreepress. com I do. I’m a sports fanatic. I know where my local teams are in the standings, when players are coming back from injury, and which plays are the most successful. KNOW THE SCORE? Do you MY NEWS MY WAY winnipegfreepress. com / subscribe I know the score and I read the Winnipeg Free Press. A RECENT speech at a Manitoba Wildlife Federation dinner brought back a lot of memories from the early days of this industry. Executive director Rob Olson wanted me to talk about how the fishery back then compares with what we have now and might see into the future. I first started out as a guide in 1982 at Eaglenest Lodge, back when there were no high- quality management regulations in place. It was common for lodge guests to bring in at least six pike a day for cleaning. While the walleye harvest was not as high, in the three years I guided there I saw a decline in the numbers and size of pike caught. Here in Manitoba, we have been lucky to have fisheries managers, lodge and resort operators and other stakeholder groups that looked to the future and implemented various regulations that have allowed the fisheries resource to not only sustain but improve in a number of areas. This has been done by implementing slots sizes, reduced limits, high- quality management regulations and the implementation of barbless hooks, an educational tool that helps promote selective harvest and catch and release. It also helps reduce mortality. While we as anglers have come a long way with catch- and- release, we still need to be more mindful of how we handle fish, especially big fish. Northern lodges have found despite a complete catch- and- release policy, unless the guests and guides handle these fish properly, there is a high rate of delayed mortality and a dramatic drop in their trophy fish stocks. For those who fish for muskie, correct release of fish is a way of life. Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country. Originally from southern Ontario, Ben has a degree in environmental studies from the University of Waterloo. His love of fishing and hunting brought him to Sioux Lookout, where he has guided for the last 12 years. Muskie is his No. 1 passion, and he works hard to make sure these trophy fish are released properly, through correct handling and with minimal stress. Beattie says hanging them vertically without support is not acceptable anymore, especially when using a scale or jaw grabber. Large pike and muskie are extremely susceptible to delayed mortality when handled this way. While fish stocks in most areas are in really good shape, the future seems a bit uncertain now. One huge question looms: How will the arrival of zebra mussels affect our fishery in this part of the world? Will they be contained to Lake Winnipeg, or will anglers and other boaters spread them across the country? While not all lakes are ideal habitats for this invasive species, they will have an impact. It’s up to us to see what we can do to contain their spread. One last trip out on the ice The forecast was for a high of 12 C with a warm sun and light wind, making it almost imperative I get out ice fishing the last day of the season in southern Manitoba. While stocked trout lakes remain open, the season closed at the end of Tuesday to allow walleye, pike and other species time to spawn. My friend Peter Hiebert and I had a tough choice to make: Do we head to East Shoal Lake for perch or Hecla Island for some last ice walleye? As it turns out, our journey for walleye was one of the best trips of the year. Driving through the village of Riverton, we headed right out onto the ice, with minimal snow and slush to slow us down. Then, the challenge was to find active fish, which is sometimes difficult in such a huge area. We were helped by the fact we could quickly drive our truck pretty much anywhere we wanted. We started out in shallow water, in about 2.5 metres, with no luck. We then decided to move into mid- range depth of about four metres, with the same result. Finally, we headed out to water in the six- metre range. Here, we weren’t marking any fish or even bait on our electronics. Moving towards Hecla Island, we found a few fish in three metres in a spot where we had caught fish in a previous trip. After landing three walleye, the spot went dead. Not a fish or a minnow was to be seen below. We then decided to move east towards the main island and shallower water. I knew we were on the right track when longtime guide Lee Nolden stopped by to chat. There probably isn’t anybody who sport fishes Lake Winnipeg that knows more about the fishery than Lee. We had last fished together on this very spot in 2008, and since that time we would make periodic visits back. While not noted for its trophy walleye, if you spend the time to move around, you will catch lots of eater- sized walleye, with a few larger fish thrown in. Nolden had simple advice: Drill one hole per angler, fish for 10 minutes, and if you don’t catch a fish, move. Once we started doing that we had a fabulous day, with a number of beautiful walleye caught. dlamont@ mymts. net Practising proper catch- and- release crucial COMPLETE ANGLER DON LAMONT SUBMITTED PHOTO Ben Beattie, a fishing guide and outdoor writer in Sioux Lookout, Ont., holds a trophy muskie the correct way. C_ 14_ Apr- 04- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C14 4/ 3/ 15 4: 44: 15 PM

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