A couple of months ago I began planning my first-ever fishing trip in Manitoba through Travel Manitoba and Todd Longley from City Cats. Todd is a guide on the Red River, and a teammate of mine through Alumacraft Boats. We met at the Mid Canada Boat Show in the spring, when I visited Manitoba for the very first time. I didn’t have time to get out on the water during the trade show, so I had hopes of making it back sometime. My interest grew stronger as I had been seeing Todd’s GIANT channel cat photos in my Facebook newsfeed on a regular basis. I really wanted to try it!
When I was contacted by Travel Manitoba, I couldn’t have been more excited! I’ve caught channel cats before, but Manitoba is known for the trophy channel cats, among other species!
My adventure began in Ottawa, where I flew from Ottawa, to Toronto to Winnipeg. I love flying.
I didn’t go on this trip alone. I brought fellow angler, photographer and videographer (Daniel Notarianni
) along to capture this incredible experience. Daniel is so talented, it was essential to have someone skilled behind the lens so that I could showcase the great fishing in Manitoba!
We arrived in Winnipeg on a Wednesday evening, headed to our hotel and settled into our rooms for the night. It took me a little while to fall asleep, as I was so excited! Daniel and I were greeted at 6:15am in the hotel lobby by Shel Zolkewich of Travel Manitoba with a big hug and a huge smile, I think she was just as excited as we were! Shel would be joining us on the water, and giving us a tour of the area after we were done fishing for the day. Shel put all of our plans in place and made sure that we would have an awesome time.
Off we went to purchase our fishing licences, get some breakfast and meet up with Todd, our guide! Also joining us, was Michelle from Alumacraft. I felt very lucky to share the water with such great company!
From left to right: Shel, Todd, Michelle and myself. Photo by Daniel.
The five of us hopped aboard and set out to the first fishing location on the Red River out of Selkirk. Todd dropped the anchor, and explained technique as he began to set-up the rods. Todd’s cat recipe consists of 3 ounce egg sinkers (to be sufficient in the current), 5 aught barbless hooks with dead bait (frogs and shrimp). I had hoped to land a Master Angler
channel cat (a fish 34 inches or over) during my visit. As I mentioned this to to Todd, he said that his goal was to help me become a Specialist (which means achieving 5 Master Angler
fish)! That would be AWESOME! My biggest channel to date had been 8 pounds, so I was hoping to beat that during this trip!
With one line in the water, we weren’t even fully set up yet before the first rod went off! It hadn’t even been in the water for more than 30 seconds! I scrambled and grabbed the rod and we all began cheering as I reeled in my first ever Manitoba channel cat!
The day started off with a 34.5 inch cat, which qualified me for a Master Angler Award
! No way!
I felt as though anything could happen at this point, and my trip was already made. I’m not even sure how much of the battle Daniel was able to capture on film, because he was still setting up the camera as I fought it!
There was no shortage on action from these fish! They weren’t that easy to hook, as cat fish generally ‘play with their food’ before eating it. They smell, taste and feel their food before they take it, and the rod tip does a dance before it’s time to actually set the hook. We missed a few fish by setting too early.
There was plenty of cheering, screaming, high-fiving and big cats hitting the deck throughout the morning.
My biggest of day one was this 36.5 inch channel cat, that Michelle helped me contain for a crazy cat lady photo!
We had so much fun with these giant fish!
Daniel and myself with a double header of cats!
Todd, Shel and myself. Great job, Shel!
Congratulations to Michelle on landing the heaviest cat of the day! Sumo-cat status!
Our first fishing trip was in the books, and it was time to tour Winnipeg with Shel. I couldn’t have been happier with my first Red River cat fishing experience! We landed 16 channel cats, with 9 Master Anglers! I was able to become a Specialist in only one day…. unreal!
We had a lovely meal at the Fairmount in Winnipeg, followed by a visit to the Forks. Early to bed, and early to rise for another action-packed day on the Red!
Day two had a clear blue sky and the temperature was much warmer than the previous day. Todd suspected this would heat up the cat fishing, and he was right! The fish were certainly aggressive, and we were reeling in more monsters in no time! I was joined in the boat by Kathy Kennedy, a local personality in Winnipeg, Daniel and Todd. The four of us shared some great laughs and were very busy on the rods bringing in cats. They put up an incredible fight, bulldogging and bending the rods nearly in half! We landed 17 cats on the second day!
Myself and Kathy, smiling with her catch! What a lovely lady!
Barbless hooks create a challenge in keeping the fish on, but an advantage when releasing these beasts back into the water to be caught again and reproduce!
Myself and Todd, the crazy cat man!
Thank you Travel Manitoba, Todd Longley, Shel Zolkewich, Michelle Trudeau, Kathy Kennedy and Daniel Notarianni for making this trip a success! It’s one I will never forget!