Show me the green!

This time of year in Manitoba is great for a variety of reasons. Hunting seasons open for deer, black bear, upland birds, and migratory birds. On the fishing side of things, the water is cooling down and it’s prime time in many areas for catching big northern pike, and of course the annual greenback run begins.Β It’s that run which I turned my sights on this week.

 

I haven’t had much chance to get on the water lately, so when my uncle and cousin asked if I wanted to join them on the Red for a couple days, it was an easy yes for me. I loaded up my gear and met them at the boat launch near Netley Creek. Tim Horton’s in hand, we got in the boat and headed downriver to The Cut.

We were not alone

We were not alone

The Cut is a popular spot for greenback fishing, and it’s named so creatively due to looking like a slot has been cut out of the shore separating the river from Netley Lake. Whether that’s actually the case or not I have no clue, but The Cut has a large flat shallow area from the sediment flowing out of the lake into the river, creating a sort of table shape on the bottom with some nice dropoffs all around.

Netley Lake is big and shallow, so there is always huge flocks of birds

Netley Lake is big and shallow, so there is always huge flocks of birds

The day was pretty slow to begin with. We caught a number of bullheads but there was no sign of any greenbacks. We caught the odd sauger which is usually a good sign of bigger things to come, however after a couple hours we were getting tired of waiting. No other boats seemed to be landing much of anything either, so after awhile at The Cut we decided it was time to start looking around. As much fun as it is to catch bullheads, those were not what we were after.

Color them both unimpressed...

Color them both unimpressed…

We moved a little ways up the shoreline to another spot that we were familiar with, which was nice because it took us a little bit away from the crowd. We fished there for a little while and after more bullheads and sauger we finally got lucky and pulled up a greenback. This significantly improved our moods, because now we knew at least that they were in there!

That's better!

That’s better!

We moved around a few more times that afternoon, and aside from one that I lost beside the boat we didn’t get on to anymore greens. We packed up and headed back to the launch happy that we at least knew the run had started and could count on it just getting better each day.

A few days later, my uncle and I headed out a second time, fairly confident we would at least catch something worthwhile, but unsure how strong the run would be going yet. We headed to The Cut to begin with, and as usual there was plenty of other boats out there as well. We anchored up at our selected depth which put us a bit away from the crowd of boats. We caught the usual sauger and bullheads to begin with, and not too far into the morning I pulled out the first greenback of the day.

A great start!

A great start!

One was quickly followed by two, then three in the boat, all great eating size. We appeared to be the only boat catching so we stayed where we were for a couple more hours but didn’t pull in anymore greens. We decided to pull anchor and go try out some new spots. It helped that we had caught some already, because it gave us a good indication of the depth they were at, so we looked for some breaks in the wind and current and targeted that depth.

and now we play the waiting game

and now we play the waiting game

It didn’t take us long to find a nice calm spot, just out of the wind and in a bit of a slower current. We anchored at the proper depth and started jigging. Every couple minutes we were pulling in either a sauger or a bullead and sure enough, after awhile we caught more greenbacks.

Beautiful coloring on these babies

Beautiful coloring on these babies

We were enjoying being out of the wind and warming up in the sun, so we stayed in this location for quite a while. While we were there we pulled up nonstop sauger and bullheads, a few greenbacks, even a nice goldeye.

Nice fish, but not what we wanted

Nice fish, but not what we wanted

What really made this spot exciting though was the channel catfish that grabbed my jig and took off on me, running my line out with him. Now, I’ve caught plenty of catfish in my day, but it takes on whole new level when you get one on your light walleye rod. I frantically loosened my drag and fought him very carefully in order not to break my rod in half. There were a few times where he dived under the boat and I thought my rod was done for sure, but in the end I managed to coax him to the surface and we got him netted and into the boat. He ended up being 33 inches, just a tad shy of the 34 needed for a master angler trophy. Regardless, it was an unexpected and exhilarating fight with one of my favorite fish that served to spice up the day.

Catfish, always a great time, even when your not expecting them

Catfish, always a great time, even when you’re not expecting them

All told, by late afternoon we had landed well over 30 each of bullheads and sauger, filled our limit of greenbacks, and had a great catfish fight to tell stories about. The company was good, we talked hunting and fishing all day, and I stocked the freezer a little more for the winter. I would be hard pressed to call the day anything other than a success, and I can’t wait to get out there again as this years greenback run gets into full swing the next couple weeks.

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