April 8, 2007

Protective Regulations Help Big Fish Thrive in Reed Lake

By Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Apr. 8--Conservative fishing regulations have helped maintain Reed Lake in northern Manitoba as one of western Canada's top drive-to destinations for northern pike, lake trout and walleyes.

Anglers can keep two walleyes, none over 22 inches; one lake trout, none over 26 inches; and two pike, none longer than 30 inches.

Reed is a big lake, spanning about 14 miles from east to west and 12 miles from north to south. The Grass River flows into Reed Lake on the east and exits on the west.

According to Carl Wall of Winnipeg, a retired fisheries manager for Manitoba Natural Resources, the lake is very productive for raising fish, with miles of shallow areas that offer prime spawning habitat for pike and walleyes. Deeper areas on the north end of the lake with 85 or more feet of water hold good populations of lake trout.

"It's one of those rare gems where you get all three species in trophy sizes," said Wall, who now serves as executive director of the Manitoba Lodge and Outfitters Association. "It's an excellent fishery."

Andre Desrosiers is a Manitoba natural resources officer in Selkirk who worked as a fisheries technician in northwestern Manitoba in the late 1980s. Reed Lake has been intensively managed for at least a generation, Desrosiers says, and the existing regulations have been in place since 1996.

Desrosiers was part of a group who made the trek north to Reed Lake last week.

"The lodge owners are the ones who pushed for regulation changes, there's no doubt about that," Desrosiers said. "They didn't want to bite the hand that fed them. There was some conflict between the consumptive user and the lodges, but the consumptive user began to see the rightful way to do things was to release the big fish. It took awhile."

According to Hal Peterson of Peterson's Reed Lake Lodge, the result has been fishing that's better today than it was 20 years ago.

Without the regulations, people had trouble throwing big fish back. Peterson says his dad, Corky, saw an angler in the mid-1970s keep a lake trout that weighed 56 pounds -- after it had been gutted and its head removed.

"They ate it," Peterson said.

Pike anglers weren't much better, Peterson recalls.

"If you took less than a 14-pound northern," you weren't considered a good fisherman Peterson said. "We'd fillet 12- to 25-pound northerns."

Thanks to protective regulations, pike that size now are commonplace -- and off-limits to filleting knives -- on Reed.

Reach Dokken at 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 148, or [email protected]


Copyright (c) 2007, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

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