An incredible place for an incredible price

I join with Bobby Sands in urging you to consider going on this trip next year to Pine Island on the Winnipeg River northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I have been to Pine Island three times and can hardly wait to go back. And when Bobby Sands and Bob Kohlmeyer want to go back, I think you need to take their recommendations seriously.

This is an incredible place for an incredible price. The lodge is wonderful. The food is superb, the cabins comfortable, the scenery breathtaking, the staff delightful, the guides knowledgable, and the owners accommodating beyond belief. The fishing is fun (smallmouth, northerns, and jigging with spinning rods for walleye lunches- yum, yum, yum). We caught 20 citation smallmouth in 5 days! Many more that were less than an inch from being citations. And this was on top water flies! It's a place you will never forget. And being there with other club members and friends is icing on the cake. So sign up and save your money. It is an outstanding trip and I want to go back every year.

Jim White

Up to 40 fish per day running 3 to 4 ½ pounds each

During our recent trip to Pine Island Lodge in Manitoba, the average catch was between 20 and 40 fish per day per boat. What was really impressive was the quality of the fish. Twenty citation fish, all smallmouths, were taken by six anglers, most on topwater. Those fish ran between 3 and 4 ½ pounds each. In addition to smallmouths, the waters of the Winnipeg abound with walleyes and northern pike.

Bobby Sands

We come back every year for the Smallmouth Bass

My family started fishing at Pine Island Lodge some 29 years ago. At first it was just my Dad and my older brother, soon I came of age for fishing trips, and now we have our third generation fishing with my nephew making the last few trips.

We have made our annual, sometime bi-annual, trip to Pine Island anywhere from before Memorial Day up through the end of September, and I would assume every day in between. It is a consistent debate exactly what time of the year we feel is the best time to go. When to go is one thing, but why we go is easier to understand.

Many people come to Pine Island for the Walleye, or to chase Northern Pike, but the reason why we go every year is twofold; first we feel at home on the Island and the staff makes sure that you do; and the second reason why we come back every year is the Smallmouth Bass.

Being from Oklahoma, my family grew up Largemouth fishing and Smallmouth Bass offer something their Largemouth cousins in Oklahoma do not, great top water action! Over the years we have learned a trick or two about fishing the waters around Pine Island for Smallmouth, Pike, and Walleye, and as much as I hate to divulge priceless information, the best piece of advice I can offer is, BRING A FLY ROD!

The fly fishing is simply fantastic! The Smallmouth Bass is commonly recognized as one of the world's pound for pound strongest fighting fish, and in my opinion the Smallmouth is hands down one of the most suited game fish for the fly caster. The cool waters surrounding Pine Island Lodge are teaming with Smallmouth forage; craws, leaches, baitfish and big beautiful mayfly hatches, which in turn produce plump and fierce trophy class fish. Useful patterns include streamers and craws, top water baitfish patterns, poppers, and big mayflies and hoppers.

I like to bring everything from a 3 weight to an 8 weight rod. I mostly use a 5 weight, which is a nice balance allowing anglers to cast top water flies and small streamers. An 8 weight rod can also be your best friend if the wind picks up, or if you decide to hunt down the big Northern Pike. I bring a 3 weight rod for those days when the Bass are busting bugs on the surface. The fishing is perfect for a floating line, which allows one to effectively work a popper down the rocky shorelines. However, there are certainly times that a sinking line is more than useful.

For anybody who loves the sport of fly fishing, Smallmouth Bass on the fly is a must do. Pine Island Lodge offers the fly fisher not just a chance to hook up with the infamous Smallmouth, but with Trophy Class Smallmouth, and on a Fly! Not much is better than that.

Thank You Brian & Barb, and Everyone at Pine Island for all the great memories!

Kevin B. Joyce

One of the most beautiful and serene settings on earth

I am a fly fisherman from Colorado and have fished lakes, rivers and streams in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Wisconsin for rainbow, brown, brook, golden and cutthroat trout; salt waters off Maryland, North Carolina and Florida for false albacore, sea trout and bluefish; and salt waters off Belize and the Bahamas for permit, tarpon, jacks and bonefish. But the place I have returned most often is Pine Island Lodge on the Winnipeg River in Manitoba to fly fish for bass and pike.

I have been going to Pine Island for about 10 years and have never come away dissatisfied. The remoteness of the Canadian wilderness and the comfy lodge run by Brian and Barbara Burgess (good food, comfortable accommodations, gracious staff, professional guides, good boats and easy connections) make for a great stay no matter what nature has in store.

In addition to the Winnipeg River, on which the Lodge is located and from which the fishing is most accessible, you can arrange for day long fly-ins or portages to nearby lakes, some of which have an abundance of particular fish species... one lake for walleye and another for bass, for example. I have had 40-bass or 40-walleye days on such lakes. On one of the fly-ins, instead of using the boat and guide furnished by the Lodge, I used a float tube that I toted from Colorado. In that one blessed day I caught more than 40 smallmouth bass on #8 brown and yellow wooly buggers; seven of them were in the master-angler class because they were 18 inches or more in length. One of them was 22 inches, the second largest smallmouth bass caught in Manitoba that summer and I landed a 21.75-inch smallmouth that was the largest one taken on a fly rod in Manitoba in 2008.

Although fly rods on the Winnipeg River have become more numerous in recent years, they still constitute a small minority. I believe the lower number of fly casters improves our chances of success because the fish are not as familiar with the flies we use. Conversely, as the number of fly-fishing clients has increased, so have the fly-fishing skills of the guides at Pine Island. A few minutes of discussion between clients and guides about their individual strengths and limitations, and the weather expected for the day, soon produce good fly-casting positions on the river's many fishing hot spots.

In addition to smallmouth, fly fishers should come equipped for northern pike. I have found that a 7 or 8-weight rod will do the trick for both species. I would not take a fly rod smaller than a 6-weight because of the long casts that are required, the weight of the lures and the afternoon winds typical of the river. Pine Island clients have boated pike in excess of 40 inches, but my largest on a fly rod have been in the 33-36 inch range. Even small pike attack gaudy streamers with a vengeance and give a good fight; but, pound-for-pound, the smallmouth cannot be beat, providing a much tougher fight than trout or pike of equal size. Thin stainless steel leaders are required for the pike. I have found that Clousers in combination with these leaders will attract both pike and bass so that I don't have to change lures when casting in habitat that holds both species. Keep the leaders thin if you want to fool the bass.

My biggest thrill in bass fishing comes when I hook them on the surface. Small poppers with eight-pound fluorocarbon tippet are best for that experience, combined with casts that land a few inches from the bank or other structure. If a pike hits the popper and breaks off the tippet, wait a few minutes and the popper often will come back to the surface. Underwater, I use woolly buggers and Clousers to attract bass. Bring a variety of colors to see what works best for the season and the cloud cover.

Shore lunch is a grand tradition at Pine Island, featuring fresh walleye caught in the morning. You will need a spinning rod and reel for jigging or casting to walleye. Don't be surprised if later in the day while fly-casting to bass, you land a good walleye or two. My largest on the fly is 26 inches.

So, go to it. Pick up Barry Reynolds' books on fly fishing for bass and pike, reserve a stay at Pine Island Lodge, and enjoy some rewarding fishing in one of the most beautiful and serene settings on earth.
Roger Mattson, Colorado

What more can you ask for?

Pine Island has simply one of the most exciting Smallmouth Bass fisheries in North America. Gorgeous country, the industries best guides, and a lodge with all the comforts of home is what you get with an experience at Pine Island. You'll find it hard to find another fishery with so much action and BIG action at that! Trophy bass that can bend an 8wt fly rod are an everyday occurrence. Time spent at Pine Island Lodge is a memorable experience for fly anglers of all levels. The fishing will get you hooked but the setting of the lodge and the staff will keep you coming back year after year.
Pine Island's location allows a fly angler to fish one of the most productive river systems in Canada one day and fly out to a trophy bass lake the next. What more can you ask for? How about tossing in the ability to hook up with a monster Pike or catch a trophy Walleye on a fly rod? It's all there.
Andy Schwertfeger, Wyoming

Great fishing and camaraderie

I have been on the Winnipeg River for some 25 yrs now and this past weekend, myself and 6 other friends stayed for 4 days ( 3 nights ), at Pine Island Lodge with Brian as our host , and it was , to say the least , fantastic.
The weather was about normal for a Sept. Derby, but It always seemed to calm down whenever we hit the water. The fishing was great and the camaraderie, even better. I want to thank Brian for an excellent time and I hope to see you soon.
Ed Sabiston

What an incredible time

Dear Brian and Barb,
As your season comes to an end, I want to thank you again for one of the most memorable weeks of my life when I was there with Bobby Sands and other members of the Cape Fear Flyfishers. What an incredible time we had!
As the incoming president of CFF, I will make sure that we have plans to head back your way at the right time to catch some more smallmouth bass on fly rods, as well as some northern pike.

Manitoba sent me my citations the other day so I am all "decked out" in fancy pins now. They do a good job. Please let David know that I have been practicing my fly casting over 1 hour every day since returning so I don't think he will have to keep me in so close next year. I am now up to about 70-80' casting. He is a remarkable guide and put his boat on fish consistently. I hope to fish with him as much as possible next year. He is a real treasure, as I'm sure you know.

The fishing in NC has been pretty slow because the water temperature has been in the mid-high 80s. But it is cooling down some as the days get shorter (or at least the sunlight doesn't last as long). October-December are fantastic months for us. If you need a break, come see us in mid-November when we head up (for us) to Morehead City and the southern tip of the Outer Banks of NC. We will be going after false albacore (fat Alberts, we call them). They are an incredible fish to catch but you have to be very brave or extremely hungry to try to eat one. But they are an absolute hoot to catch, particularly on a fly rod. Since you both are honorary members of Cape Fear Flyfishers, we would love to have you join us for our adventure. It will change you life!
Anyway, thanks again for your "northern hospitality." We would cherish the opportunity to show you "southern hospitality" at its finest. Best wishes for the winter. Remember, you can fish all year in our part of the world so come see us.
Jim White, Oak Island