The Red River, the Freshwater Fishing Paradise

The Red River, the Freshwater Fishing Paradise
by Ferrario Roberto

Before starting this trip to Canada, I met some fishermen friends and speaking with them about this new trip, all of them asked me the same question: "Do you go there for salmon?". Receiving a negative answer, they wondered me again: "So, do you go to fish steelhead trout?" At a second negative answer they asked me: "Surely you will go for pikes and zander!", but when I told them that I didn't know if I would have had the time to dedicate myself to this kind of fishing, all of them like a chorus said to me: "So, for what kind of fish do you go in Canada???".
The main goal of my trip in the Manitoba region was the catch of all those fishes that are fair known and aren't normally fished by European fishermen going in this so vast country. Besides salmon, steelhead trout and pike that make Canada rivers and lakes famous, there are several fighting and tenacious species to catch: channel catfish, carp, sturgeon, drum. So one of my main target was carp.

I chose the Canadian region of Manitoba because its territory is covered by so many lakes and rivers that the count was stopped at 100.000. The country of Canada possesses more lakes than any other country; in addition to the Big Lakes placed at the USA border, there are 33 lakes each one of them measures more than 1300 square kilometers. The idea of going in this country for a fishing trip a little bit different from the usual routes chosen by the most of fishermen, was proposed me by Christine Slater, a friend of mine that is the owner of "Tailor Made Holidays"(E-mail:, one of the most famous fishing agencies in Great Britain.
We decided to go to "Cats on the Red", a renowned lodge placed near the town of Lockport, only few miles from the regional capital Winnipeg, where there is a wide complex of lakes, channels and rivers. So with her and John Wilson, one of England's most recognized globe trotting anglers and outdoor communicators, we met a group of passionate fishermen to reach this destination.
Members of the "Tailor Made Team" so were: Christine, John, Stein, Dave, Richard, I and the unlucky David, that when we arrived in Lockport had to make himself hospitalized with a bad appendix, staying all week in bed. We arrived at the lodge, placed on one side of the Red River, not too far of the St. Andrews dam, our first worry was to verify if Stu had ready, the corn for bait and had chummed the zones chosen to fish carps. Stu, a very kind and professional men, impressed us showing five tanks of 200 liters full of corn softened with water and sugar. He also informed us that he had just put several kilograms of corns in two places that are particularly productive for carps.
We wanted to exploit our fishing days to the maximum, every day we went with a small tank of corn to a beach near the lodge to prepare the place for our fishing session every early morning. During these our sessions we have alternate very good hours with plenty of hook-ups of carps and catfishes with other mornings with a very slow activity. This is probably because of the continuous changing of the level of the Red River's waters; in fact some days the dam was totally open and the others was partially or totally closed.
The target of the first day was carps to catch with the carp-fishing method using corn as bait; so we reached a wonderful creek of the Red River. I haven't any idea how Stu has discovered this place, because to reach it we drove for half an hour on roads between meadows and fields and some minutes in a real go off the road in the middle of a meadow and of a thicket. Here the scenery was lovely and driven by a great enthusiasm, in ten minutes we were ready with the rods on our rod pod. The beginning was very bland, below any expectation, and in the first hour of fishing we had only few bites and no fish. A few times later our doubts suddenly dissipated by a superb triple hook-up. Three carps of 5-6 kilograms of weight fought in the same time created quite confusion but cheered the moral of all the fishermen. During the week , then, we accustomed ourselves to have double and triple hook-up of carps and catfishes. The day continued with a good rhythm with the average size of the carps around 6 kilograms. We ended this first day with a total of 36 carps, a white bass and a bullhead catfish.
We have spent also the second day fishing carps from the shore and notwithstanding a strong wind we enjoyed a lot ourselves and in the mid of the afternoon we ended with 41 carps and one channel catfish. All the fishes where up to 6 kilograms with the biggest carp of 10 kilograms. At any way we were very far from the record of the lodge, in fact some years ago five English fishermen, in five hours of fishing, have caught the stratospheric cipher of 146 carps form 4 to 15 kilograms.
One afternoon we discovered, in a small creek, an enormous school of carps; hundreds of these fishes from 7 to 15 kilograms was feeding quietly without worry of the presence of the boat. After to have seen this paradisiacal vision we decided to come back the day after.
We arrived excited on the zone of the river and nothing was changed and seemed to be in a farm. The school of the carps was feeding on a bottom of 40 centimeters with their tails out of the water; all this was absolutely unbelievable.
We decided to fish from a small beach and few seconds after the first cast John had an hook-up of a 8 kilograms that immediately went in the current and engaged him for a quarter of hour. Richard and me started fishing and in a couple of minutes we had our carp on the line. One, two, three, four..... the carps was feeding in an incredible way. These fishes were all around 7-8 kilograms, but also with some exemplars of 9, 10 and 11. In this unforgettable feeding mixed also 9 channel catfishes of good size and two drums, one of which of 5 kilograms When we arrived at 47 carps we decided to end at 50; some minutes later we had a triple hook-up of carps and luckily after some tangles we released the fishes. The Red river is surely overpopulated by carps and the strange thing is that in Canada and USA this fish isn't considered a sport-fishing fish and so anyone here spent time fishing for it. Instead of, it is very appreciate by European fishermen thanks to its characteristics of strength and fight. The carp isn't a fish original of the American continent, in fact it was introduced from Europe in the 1876; after few decades it was able to find the perfect habitat and to reproduce in an unbelievably way. In the Red River there are so many carps that they don't find enough food to grow and here the average size is always around the 7-8 kilograms. At any way fishes up to 10 kilograms are regularly caught, and the record of the river is a carp of 18 kilograms.
The holiday ended surely positive and higher than any my best expectation. In six days of fishing we have caught about 300 fishes, and thinking hypothetically an average size of 5 kilograms, that probably is not much, we have totalized more than 1500 kilograms of fishes. Surely the Red River is one of the most prolific rivers in the world.

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