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Niepagens Make a Huge Haul in Manitoba

August 14, 2008

By Scott Richardson;srichardson@pantagraph.com

Two generations of the Niepagen family from Bloomington-Normal scored big on a recent fishing trip to Manitoba.

Really big.

They reeled in channel catfish that weighed 30 pounds and lake trout that topped that mark. At one point, they couldn’t quit catching super-sized lake trout long enough to get some smaller ones for shore lunch.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Lee Niepagen.

Wendell’s brothers, Melvin and Norman, rounded out the foursome that headed north during the third week of July. Though mid-summer, it was just a week after ice-out at the northern-most waters that were home to the lake trout.

First, the group drove to the famed English River at Selkirk, Manitoba, about 30 miles north of Winnipeg, to spend a day fishing with Dan Kiazyk of Cateye Outfitters. Kiazyk provided the cut bait made from 8- to 10-inch redeye he caught a day earlier. The pieces were put on 5/0 hooks attached to heavy line and taken down to holes in the river bottom 20 feet deep on a three-way rig. Some of the monsters took 15 minutes to land despite the heavy 40-pound gear.

“We caught 40 fish, all between 20 and 30 pounds, all channels,” said Lee Niepagen, a hint of disbelief still apparent in his voice. “That was a good time, it was fun. The best thing about it was that it’s supposed to be the best catfishing in the whole world, and we saw one boat the whole day.”

A flight farther north on a 50-passenger turbojet landed the quartet at Kasba Lake, where they caught a float plane for another trip farther onto the Artic tundra and Mosquito Lake in the Northwest Territories. They were so far north trees don’t grow and resorts are only open for five weeks a year. Tukto Lodge was home on Mosquito Lake about 1,000 miles north of where their car was parked in Winnipeg. After two days there, they flew another 80 minutes to Dubawnt Lake, the 16th largest lake in North America at 350,000 acres.

They trolled big Husky Dare Devils. Water temperature was about 50 degrees, air temperature was in the 60s, and the fishing was hot.

“Norman had a 31 (pound trout), I had one 26 pounds, and Melvin and Wendell each had 25s, and we each had a half dozen more over 20,” he said.

Many more were “teenagers,” the term locals use for the mid- sized 14- to 19-pound fish that were a majority.

“Probably a total on both lakes, a minimum of 300; we lost count,” he said. “Needless to say, this trip produced 60 20-pound- and-up fish. It was awesome.”

For more information, check out www.cateyeoutfitter.com and www.arcticfishing.com.

Boating class

The Illinois Waterway Visitors Center at Utica is offering a boat safety class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the facility across the Illinois River from Starved Rock State Park. Cost is free. Call (815) 667-4054 for more information.

Tournament notes

Pat Welch of Mackinaw and Brian McDaniels of Metamora won the Bass 25 tournament at Lake Sangchris on Saturday with a six-fish limit of 12.55 pounds. William Morgan of Washburn and Doug Williams of Bloomington were second with six bass of 11.85 pounds, including big bass of 5.4 pounds. Travis Boley of Weldon and John McKinney of Mahomet were third.

-Scott Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at (309) 820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com. Share stories and read past outdoor and fishing columns at www.pantagraph.com/ blogs

and www.arcticfishing.com.

Boating class

The Illinois Waterway Visitors Center at Utica is offering a boat safety class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the facility across the Illinois River from Starved Rock State Park. Cost is free. Call (815) 667-4054 for more information.

Tournament notes

Pat Welch of Mackinaw and Brian McDaniels of Metamora won the Bass 25 tournament at Lake Sangchris on Saturday with a six-fish limit of 12.55 pounds. William Morgan of Washburn and Doug Williams of Bloomington were second with six bass of 11.85 pounds, including big bass of 5.4 pounds. Travis Boley of Weldon and John McKinney of Mahomet were third.

Scott Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at (309) 820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com. Share stories and read past outdoor and fishing columns at www.pantagraph.com/ blogs.

(c) 2008 Pantagraph. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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