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Musky’s

Pinawa Pike Classic_300_300

See below for more background information

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 Muskies in Pinawa??? are you kidding?!
...no I am not. The Winnipeg River System is considered natural habitat for the Muskelunge (See book The Freshwater Fishes of Manitoba (Authors Kenneth Stewart & Douglas Watkinson)). The Lake of the Woods area is one of the best musky populated Watersheds in North America. Typically the known occurrence of the species to be targeted as sport fish is cut off below the white dog dam. Although the number of Muskies caught below is steadily increasing. Several bigger ones got caught there this year and it is not likely they jumped over the spill way, but were there all along.
However there was a time when no hydro dams blocked the river downstream.

While it is often said that the Winnipeg River downstream in Manitoba is increasingly getting colder compared to the LOTW’s area this can actually not be validated and the reservoir type of river created by the dams would suggest otherwise. It is more likely that cutting muskies off from their natural spawning areas as well as massive change in their natural habitat (installation of 6 hydro Stations) might have led to a massive decline or even extinction in some now separated areas. Apparently Northern Pikes are not quite as susceptible to such changes. One of the biggest separated sections within the Winnipeg River system is between Seven Sisters and the Slave Falls Hydro Station.

Musky was stocked and restocked from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s from the shore lines of Pinawa and Otter Falls besides other areas in West Manitoba as well as in the Lee River/Lake lac du Bonnet area (with Potentially 1 catch in 2012)(See marks in map from book The Freshwater Fishes of Manitoba (Authors Kenneth Stewart & Douglas Watkinson)). This stocking activity over a 10 year stretch from 1984 to 1993 as well the last and single time in 1997 ( 12,000 ( 4 Times as much as for sturgeon the same year)) is barely documented in the 5 year reports to the Legislature by Manitoba Fisheries for the years respectively. It is also mentioned in several recent publications that the Musky population in the immediate LOTW’s area is further on the rise due to favorable long term weather changes during the last decades. If this is correct the same would apply to the system downstream of White Dog with a chance of resurrection of surviving populations in combination with stocking in the 80’s and 90’s.  

It really is not a question if they are there,..it is a question where and how strong the population is!
Unless that somebody has proof that all stocked Muskies have died (can reach at least 30 years of age) and did not manage to reproduce in a single instance there is no reason to believe that there is no Musky in Pinawa.

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What are the chances to catch one? To be honest rather slim! Almost 95% of the fisherman in the Seven Sisters to Slave falls area are after Walleye (pickerel) even though areas above Point du Bois and below the Seven Sisters dam are easier to fish for them. It is almost impossible to catch a musky by accident that way. For comparison during summer guiding of about 4 months in an area with the highest density of Muskies in the LOTW area,... it happens 2 to 4 times that somebody catches a musky with a pickerel bait or lure. In that very area the rate of Pike to Musky when targeting Musky is about 1P:4M. So if you do not go specifically after them the chances are near nil. Private statistics (during 2008 and 2009) suggest that even when you target them in the stretch of river in question,.. than the catch ratio Pike to Musky is 28:1, meaning you might statistically catch 28 Pikes of decent size before you catch one Musky. Size wise you can expect 70cm (27”) to (so far) 115cm (45”).
So to put this even more into perspective it is 112 times more likely to catch a musky upstream Withe Dog Dam,..and compare this with the likelihood of holding a fish in your hand because of the mandatory use of barbless hooks (which is a really good thing for easy release practices) ,...I think it is fair to say based on statistics from 2008/2009 you are realistically looking at around a 1/250 chance to get one for a picture in your boat with the same effort as in the LOTW’s area in the stretch of Winnipeg River in question here in Pinawa.

What to use?
Top water, top water or top water and maybe sub-surface ,...no seriously coming from Europe (Germany, fishing our Pinawa area since 1999) we are fishing there with your regular musky stuff for pike there anyways. This includes top water lures and big bull dawgs or similar. Vibrax #6 musky buck tandem burned under the surface are great,...black regular Buzz-baits with trailer hooks will do as well as your regular or magnum size bull dawg, 9” Houdini shads work great too.

!BUT do not confuse Pinawa with Kenora,...maybe, just maybe, we might get one finally documented during the Pinawa Pike Classic!

!!! By the way a trophy Pike is as worthy as a trophy Muskellunge !!!

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