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TuffEnuff (US)'s Profile > Stories > Gunisao Lake - Fishing Hotter Than the 4th of July

Gunisao Lake - Fishing Hotter Than the 4th of July

Posted Sep 6, 2007 by TuffEnuff (US)
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 Gunisao Lake - Fishing Hotter Than the 4th of July Shortly after leaving Warroad, I found myself standing at the counter of the Canadian customs office. While paperwork for a work permit was being finalized, I leafed through the 2007 Manitoba "Fishing and Hunting Adventures Guide" and came to the "Master Angler" listings. Looking under the walleye category, it was plain to see that Gunisao Lake was one of the best trophy walleye fisheries in all of Manitoba, if not the best. My, what a coincidence. That was exactly where I was heading. My next stop was the Winnipeg International Airport, where I would meet up with the rest of the "Angling Adventures" television crew, Terry and Karen, who were flying in from Colorado. Ann Louise Budd, expeditor for Budd's Gunisao Lake Lodge, was on hand to insure that all went smoothly. In a matter of minutes, we were all aboard a forty passenger De Havilland Dash 8, which would make the 250 mile flight to Gunisao Lake in a little over an hour. Resort manager, Dusty Budd, was awaiting all aboard the flight and quickly escorted us to our cabins and then to the lodge for breakfast. Like clockwork, everything was all set and ready to go. Hey, we had walleyes to catch and no time was wasted in doing so. Budd's Gunisao Lake Lodge Family owned for over twenty years, the Budd's have offered fantastic walleye and northern pike fishing on Gunisao Lake. The lodge, by the way, is the only resort on the lake. Now, that may not sound too impressive until you realize that Gunisao Lake is approximately 16 miles by 8 miles in size. Then consider that they never have more than 16 boats on the water at any given time. That's the max, which figures out to each boat having 8 square miles of water all to itself. It's mind boggling and no wonder that the lake has such an incredible fishery. Also, the lodge is only open three months out of the year, from mid-May through the first week in August, which allows fish to remain un-pressured for the remaining 9 months. Cabins are clean and have their own flush toilets and showers, which is quite an amenity, considering you're back that far in the bush. The cabins also have room service and are cleaned daily, along with towels and bedding. The Gunisao "Time Schedule" goes something like this: 6:30 am - coffee delivery and wake up call, 7:00 am - made to order breakfast in the lodge, 8:00 am - go fishing, noon - shore lunch prepared by your guide(s), 5:00 pm - come in from fishing, ice and appetizers await you in your cabin, 6:30 pm - dinner (three course meal) in the lodge. I can't say enough about the meals (actually, the whole operation). A pleasant and professional staff waited on us "hand and foot." The Guides Don't plan on running around the lake by yourself, as it is a fully guided operation. You wouldn't want to anyway. Gunisao, a classic Canadian Shield lake, has boulders and rock piles sticking up all over the lake, making it a dangerous place to boat, if you're a rookie. Experienced guides, on the other hand, have been there forever and know the lake like the backs of their hands. Very professional in their duties, they run 18' Lund Alaskans that offer a firm, flat floor, pedestal seating, and plenty of room. The outboards are another plus, as 25 hp 4-stroke Yamahas sit on the back of each boat and are extremely quiet, making talking from one boat to another not a problem, just in case you want to razz your fishing partners a bit. Walleyes It's the walleyes that have made Gunisao Lake famous. Producing more Master Angler walleyes than any other lake in Manitoba is quite the bragging right, as Manitoba is full of trophy fish of all species. The lodge has it's own special regulations and encourages anglers to release all walleye over 20", keeping the smaller fish for shore lunches. A Master Angler fish, 28" and over, is fairly easy to obtain in this fishery and walleyes up to 33 3/4" were caught here as recently as last year. Now that's a brute that probably weighed 12 to 14 pounds. The guides know plenty of great fishing spots. As a matter of fact, we caught walleyes practically every time we stopped the boat, even when we were fishing up shallow for northern pike. Bang! A 22" walleye would slam our big pike lures. Drop a jig and minnow down into the cabbage weeds and you're sure to get one. On our trip, we mainly fished mid-lake reefs in 18 to 35 feet, catching walleyes at all depths, and although we caught plenty of walleyes, we only managed one Master Angler fish, which was caught by Terry Wickstrom. However, that's pretty easy to swallow when your catching that many fish, with a lot of them in the 22 to 26" range. There were quite a few Master Angler fish registered at the lodge throughout our stay. One thing that amazes me is the condition of these fish. All fish were very robust and "had shoulders", as they say. The lake is teeming with baitfish, which under normal conditions, makes fishing a bit more difficult. Not here. But then again, Gunisao is definitely not a normal lake. Our best baits were 3/8 oz. jig-heads tipped with a frozen minnow. Sometimes a plastic trailer, a 4" Berkley Power Bait, was used along with the minnow. It gave the jig presentation a larger profile and when and if your minnow did fall off, the fish would sometimes hit just the plastic. The best colors, which I don't think mattered too much, were white, chartreuse, orange, and green. Northern Pike I'd have to believe that the northern pike are Gunisao's secondary fish, as the walleyes receive all of the glory and most of the pressure. However, if you're inclined to make a trip up there, absolutely do not rule out fishing for the pike. We broke up our days by fishing for walleyes in the morning and going for the northern pike in the afternoon. It worked out very well. We started out by casting weedy areas, and there are plenty of them to be had, and only boating a few fish until one of the guides noticed all the minnow activity up shallow and well into the weeds. Excuse my French but this is when all hell broke loose. There were so many fish up in the weeds, chasing minnows, that if we didn't catch a fish, we were more than likely to have a follow back to the boat and sometimes they came two at a time. Many times, a wake in the water would be quickly moving toward your bait and you had to try and discipline yourself into not setting the hook too soon. It was very much like "fishing bass in the slop." The fish weren't monsters but plenty in the 5 to 8 pound range were caught. Not to say the big ones weren't there, as we did see a couple of real tanks, being in the 15 pound or better range, with one of them grabbing onto a smaller northern. Talking to some of the guests, a lot of them being repeat customers, revealed that northern pike in the 40 to 45" range can be caught at times but for the most part it's a lot of 5 to 8 pounders, which isn't all that bad. Actually, it's pretty darn good. Our best baits were 6" Buck Little's "In-Line Bullet" spinner baits for over the cabbage weeds and Northland Tackle's 3/4 oz Magnum "Reed Runners" and "Buzzard&qu ot; surface buzzers in the bullrushes. Once it became too weedy for these baits, we switched to Northland's weedless "Jaw-Breaker " spoons and Berkley "Power Baits" rigged weedless. More Info I should mention that being in such a remote setting, a small plane is always on hand in case an emergency should arise. One of the employees is a licensed pilot, should that occur. Also, the lodge has a nice little, well-stocked bar and lounge area for your after dinner beverages, and did you know that the lodge has a pet northern pike? Yes. That's right. He goes by the name of "Norton&quo t;. I saw this fish, which looked to weigh about 6 pounds, on my first day there while getting ready to jump into the boat. A guide was feeding it, tossing a few frozen minnows into the water. The fish took it's time, and finished them all off. On an earlier occasion, one of the guides had it taking minnows right out of his hand! I got up early one morning and walked around with my morning cup of coffee. Being the first one on the dock, I was greeted by Norton. It swam right up to me and stared in my direction, waiting for breakfast. I felt bad that I had nothing to offer it so I headed back to the cabin to get my minnows but when I returned, it was gone. They think it's the same fish that hung around the dock last year, only it was smaller. Pretty cool. For more information on Budd's Gunisao Lake Lodge, call (517) 676-FISH(3474) or log onto www.BUDDSGUNISAOLA KELODGE.com.
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