Start­ing with a BANG

Catch­ing mas­sive fresh­wa­ter drum great way to kick off sea­son

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - OUT­DOORS - DON LA­MONT

AF­TER spend­ing the first part of May out of the coun­try, I was anx­ious to get back out on the wa­ter. When friend Jim Price in­vited me out to fish on Lake Manitoba, I was glad to head out — even if it meant get­ting up at 4:30 a.m. Week­ends can be a busy time at our many lakes and rivers, but upon ar­rival at Sports­men’s Park at 6:30 a.m. we had the boat launch to our­selves. A busy place on any week­end, we were early enough to avoid the crowds. Af­ter launch­ing Jim’s boat in the White­mud River, we de­cided to try our luck up­river for wall­eye and the ever present sil­ver bass or drum as an­glers pre­fer to call them. Af­ter about three hours of cov­er­ing wa­ter we caught four small wall­eye and a few sil­ver bass. Our real goal on this day was to head out to the big lake and try our luck along the many sand­bars ex­tend­ing from the mouth of the river it­self. A brisk west wind was blow­ing as we ven­tured out through the chan­nel into the lake. We could see the sand­bars out in front of us and Jim trimmed his mo­tor as we slowly ven­tured our way to deeper wa­ter. There are times on the lake when the wa­ter drops, and th­ese sand bars make it dif­fi­cult to get out of the river. Luck­ily we didn’t have any trou­ble and soon we were in two me­tres of wa­ter. Shal­low wa­ter — but more than deep enough to catch the wall­eye and drum feed­ing on small shin­ers on th­ese sand bars. Trolling in two me­tres can be a bit of a chal­lenge, but by us­ing ul­tra small crankbaits we were able to ac­com­plish our two main goals: cover wa­ter and catch fish. While the wall­eye we caught on this day were all smaller males, many of the fresh­wa­ter drum we landed were in the two-kilo­gram range. Later in the day as we headed north on the lake we got into a ex­tremely ac­tive school of th­ese ag­gres­sive preda­tors. Sud­denly the size started to jump up con­sid­er­ably. Then I hooked into an ex­press train, with line melt­ing off my level wind reel. Jim im­me­di­ately put the front troll mo­tor in an­chor mode so I could make some head­way on what­ever was on the end of my line. When trolling for wall­eye I like us­ing a three-me­tre rod with a line counter reel spooled with three-kilo­gram test Crystal Fire­line. Onto this is at­tached a small cross lock snap that holds up even the pull of a mon­ster like I cur­rently had on the end of my line. As the fish got closer, I guessed it was prob­a­bly a mas­sive drum given the wild rolls and surges in the fight. Fi­nally we saw it in the wa­ter and my knees got a lit­tle weak. Since Jim only had a small rub­ber net for the wall­eye, I was not sure the mas­sive drum would fit. Friend Dan MacRae man­aged to get the fish in the boat some­how. Big drum are not the eas­i­est fish to han­dle, with a tough small mouth and re­ally hard gill plates. Af­ter a bit of a strug­gle and a pec­toral fin in my fin­ger, (much blood) I was able to hold it up for a quick pic­ture. Not want­ing to get beat up any­more, I re­leased it over the side be­fore mea­sur­ing or weigh­ing. Still both Jim and Dan agreed it was a rather large spec­i­men of the species. It was cer­tainly by the far the largest fresh­wa­ter drum I had ever landed and made the open­ing day of fish­ing sea­son a mem­o­rable one. This species is a wor­thy sport fish and I plan on spend­ing more time in the fu­ture try­ing to catch them. An­glers Notes: The con­tin­u­a­tion of cooler tem­per­a­tures and mois­ture has de­layed a lot of fish move­ment out to deeper wa­ter, so think shal­low. Fish­ing for wall­eye has been pretty good all over the prov­ince with many fish still in less than two me­tres of wa­ter. A great way to catch th­ese shal­low fish is to use a small spin­ner rig weighted with a cou­ple of small split shots or bul­let sinker. This al­lows your lure to slide through the weed cover with a min­i­mum amount of snags. Many of our trout species are also still pa­trolling the lit­toral zones in search of an easy meal.


Don La­mont with the huge drum fish he caught on Lake Manitoba.

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