Bucket List Fish

I returned a few days ago from a trip to Manitoba, where I visited family and friends. While there, I was able to catch some fish that have been on my bucket list for a long time.

Fly-fishing for channel catfish is something I have wanted to do for years. One of the best places in the country to do this is the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba, near the city of Winnipeg. Anglers from far and wide travel here each year to fish for cats.

St. Andrews Lock and Dam at Lockport, Manitoba.

My first stop was at the St. Andrews Lock and Dam at Lockport. It’s a popular destination with all kinds of anglers, including fly fishers. Flows on the Red were too high while I was there, so I ended up going downstream a short distance, and fishing where the floodway enters the river.

The Floodway on the left, as it joins the Red River to the right of the buoys.
Anglers at dusk, fishing where the Floodway enters the Red River.

The floodway is used to divert water around the city of Winnipeg during high-water events. It wasn’t in use when I was there, but there were several hundred yards of fishable water where it entered the Red River. Unlike the water flowing in the Red, the water here was amazingly clear.

Freshwater Drum (Aka “Silver Bass”)

I fished at Lockport on three occasions. On my second visit, I met a couple of local fly anglers, Gilles and Rhyl. We had a great time fishing together. Gilles fishes here a lot and provided some great tips. I managed to catch three Master Angler fish that day – a catfish, a drum, and a carp. I thought that was pretty special, especially being able to do this with a fly rod.

Gilles landing a big cat.
34-inch Channel Catfish.

The cats were strong and some of them took me deep into my backing. The drum were scrappy and put up a great fight. I had the most fun catching them. I caught numerous catfish and drum and they did not seem to be too picky about which flies they took. I caught most on DDH and Barbell Leeches, or variations of them.

Backing line almost depleted.
28″ Freshwater Drum.
31-inch carp.

The carp were another story. You could sight-fish for them cruising close to shore if the light was right, but they were spooky and picky. I only caught one carp, using a #4 Squirmy Worm, under a strike indicator. On my last outing, goldeye had invaded the waters and you would catch one on nearly every cast. They were rising everywhere but I did not bring any dry flies. Next time.

Leech patterns and other flies.
Red River Goldeye.

Later in the trip, I travelled to Lake of the Woods at Kenora, Ontario with Tom and Joanne, where I spent a couple of days fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass. We travelled about four miles from the Northern Yacht Club in the comfort of the Pink Cadillac, Tom, and Joanne’s 29-foot sailboat, with an inflatable fishing boat in tow. The scenery was spectacular! I can see why they love coming here. Tom is a pro at catching walleye and caught enough for a tasty meal, which Joanne prepared aboard the sailboat. I caught a few smallmouth bass and a black crappie – more firsts for me.

The best part of my trip, though, was visiting and catching up with family and friends. It was great to see everyone. I will be back!

Husky the Muskie – Kenora, Ontario.
Northern Yacht Club – Lake of the Woods, Ontario.
Preparing to leave the dock.
At the helm.
The Pink Cadillac, anchored.
Smallmouth bass.
Lake of the Woods walleye.
Fishing dinghy in tow.
Pulling anchor.
Heading back to the harbour.
Enjoying a delicious meal of walleye aboard the sailboat.
Black crappie – last fish of the trip.
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  1. Walter Hildenbrandt July 2, 2024 at 12:25 pm #

    So glad you could go and meet up with family and catch fish that were on your Bucket List. The photos are amazing. Glad you enjoyed family, friends and the Great Outdoors.

    • Vic Bergman July 3, 2024 at 6:21 am #

      Thanks, Walter. I had a great time while I was there, visiting with family and fishing.

  2. David D June 23, 2024 at 7:26 am #

    I’m glad that you got some of your bucket list done. My health is going down hill in my old age so I’ll not get my list done now. Pictures like these of your visit to Manitoba helps me live vicariously through you. Keep the pictures coming there great.

    • Vic Bergman June 23, 2024 at 9:45 am #

      Hi David,

      I’m glad you liked the photos. I had a lot of fun fishing in Manitoba. I think bucket lists are seldom completed. I keep adding to mine. I will probably never complete mine, either, but will try as long as I can. Take care!

  3. Jim O'Neil June 20, 2024 at 10:21 am #

    Wow! What a great fishing trip. An amazing assortment of sportfish and all on the fly. Have a great summer Vic.

    Your “old” friend Jim

    • Vic Bergman June 20, 2024 at 2:08 pm #

      Hi Jim,

      It was a lot of fun catching these fish. A whole different experience for me. Hope you have a great summer, too!

  4. robert June 20, 2024 at 9:22 am #

    Captaining a Yacht, conquering giant warm water fish!…what’s next?…Belly boating for giant Tarpon in Nicaragua? Can’t wait to see next bucket list species…

    • Vic Bergman June 20, 2024 at 2:13 pm #

      Giant tarpon would be amazing. Redfish are also on my bucket list. So are roosters, bones, NZ browns …

  5. Bob Costa June 20, 2024 at 8:41 am #

    Hey Vic. What a difference warm water species are. Looks like a terrific time and so glad you finally did it. Some sizeable fish as well and formidable on the flyrod. Reminds me of Tennessee.

    • Vic Bergman June 20, 2024 at 2:20 pm #

      Hi Bob,

      I had a blast. The fishing way exceeded my expectations. I went at the right time. Today, I heard the catfish and drum have moved back into the Red River, leaving mostly goldeye and pike where I was fishing. I hope to return next year at the same time. I would like to focus more on the carp.

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