Green cylinders of predatory rage come gliding through shallow water—a visual that causes average fly anglers to tangle lines on rod tips and other anglers in a desperate effort to get a fly out there, anywhere in the vicinity of those cruising giants. Up here, if a pike sees the fly, it gets ripped.
Some memories can never be extinguished. Like the sight of a 25-pound northern at the end of a fly line, thrashing heavily in shallow water. Penned in by bottom, reeds, shoreline, and a boat, the only direction for the fish is up. Encounters like that are common from one end of Saskatchewan to the other. And chances are good that squadrons of giant walleye or lake trout will be a short boat ride from that spot.
Tim Geni is a walleye pro from just south of Regina in south-central Saskatchewan—a short drive from three of the world’s finest walleye and pike lakes. “The best open-water venues for drive-to pike and walleyes would be Last Mountain, Diefenbaker, and Tobin,” Geni says.
“You can stay in a resort, bring your own boat, or hire a guide. Do your homework, fish the proper times and locations, and you can expect the fish of a lifetime in any of these waters. Walleyes over 17 pounds are a reality here. You will catch double-digit size pike and walleye out of any of these three lakes every day if you time it right. And most of the action is shallow.”
Walleyes and pike don’t provide the only trophies from scenic Lake Diefenbaker. “I’ve been spooled by rainbows in Diefenbaker,” Geni says. “I’ve caught several over 10 pounds while fishing for walleyes.” One of the “Fishing Geeks,” Sean Konrad boated the 48-pound, all-tackle, world-record rainbow trout there—on Sept. 5, 2009, eclipsing a 2-year-old mark held by his twin brother, Adam. Konrad and crew catch world-class rainbows in open water and through the ice. Few things in fishing are more exciting than the blistering run of a giant rainbow—and nowhere on earth do they grow bigger than here.
“We like to troll for them with Original Floating Rapalas, Husky Jerks, and Mepps spoons,” Sean Konrad says. “Rainbows are best in fall, and the browns are best in spring.” Browns are flying under the radar since a big flood on the Bow River flushed them over the lower dams on one of the region’s finest trout rivers. “I caught a 26-pound brown in 2013,” Konrad says. “A 20-pound brown is not uncommon in Diefenbaker—we’ve caught 6 over that size since the floods in 2010. We catch them all sizes now, and suspect they’re naturally reproducing.”
Diefenbaker is but one trophy trout venue in the region. “Saskatchewan has one of the best stocked-trout programs in Western Canada,” Konrad says. “So many little lakes around here have rainbows and monster browns up to 15 pounds, it’s crazy. Most of the lakes stocked in Saskatchewan have really big trout. Lakes stocked by the Fort Qu’Appelle Fish Culture Station are posted on the Ministry of Environment website.”
“Big pike patrol Diefenbaker, too,” Geni adds. “We cast spoons and topwaters in the back ends of shallow, weedy bays all summer long. Big green torpedoes ripping through reeds and cattails on the hookset gets your heart racing. Nothing can stop some of them—they’re just too big. Spring runoff raises the lake level, forming perfect habitat for pike and there are 25-pounders back there. Every cast produces a 10- to 20-pounder with a spoon. It’s a great environment for fly fishermen, too. It’s pretty visual. We cast blind a lot, but you see big gators cruising around the shallows every day. Fishing is awesome from ice-out (mid-May) right through summer. We find big walleyes back there, too. One day I saw more than 100 in 2 feet of crystal clear water at the back of a ‘coolie’ (shallow, finger-like bay). That was in the middle of June.”
Tobin Lake—about 220 miles north of Regina—also part of the Saskatchewan River, which produces magnificent pike and walleyes…