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Tobin Lake

Species: Perch, Pike, Sturgeon, Walleye/Pickerel

Season: Fall: Late September until freeze-up

Location: A resevoir of Saskatchewan, near Nipawin

Hottest spot: White Rock

Coordinates: 53° 31′ 0″ N, 103° 44′ 35″ W

Why we chose it:

In 2012, ranked #8 in all-time hot spots

Formed in 1963 with the damming of the Saskatchewan River, Tobin quickly gained fame as a hot spot for big walleye and even bigger northerns. Just 15 years later, however, heavy pressure had taken its toll and the fishery was in disarray. But thanks to the imposition of strict slot limits, Tobin has made a remarkable comeback. Since the late ’90s, the massive impoundment has seen unprecedented numbers of prairie monsters—especially for a drive-to location—including the current provincial-record walleye.

In 2011, Best for reservoir walleye

While Saskatchewan’s Tobin Lake is synonymous with monster walleye, it’s technically the Saskatchewan River portion of the prairie reservoir that attracts the most attention from trophy seekers—namely, the 19-kilometre stretch between the François-Finlay Dam and the lake proper. As the cool nights of September begin to turn green leaves to gold, another type of gold makes its way into the river to fatten up before winter covers the lake with an icy shroud of white.

Controlled by the upstream dam, the river’s current varies wildly. The one thing you can count on, though, is that when the water starts to flow, the walleye put on the feed bag. With that in mind, here’s a hot tip: Count on the flow to increase during the day as power demands increase on the dam.

Despite heavy angling pressure and generous limits, Tobin continues to pump out huge walleye. Saskatchewan’s walleye record has been broken numerous times here over the past few decades, with the current record a whopping 18 pounds 4.8 ounces. And I witnessed the landing of the previous record fish—weighing in at a shade over 18 pounds—during the pre-fish for the Vanity Cup.

The largest fish that’s ever graced my boat on Tobin, meanwhile, weighed just over 13½ pounds. If you’re looking for a 10-pound-plus trophy walleye, this is the place to fulfill your dream.

Hot lure: Leech on a live-bait rig

Hot fly: Bunny Leech

—T.J. Schwanky

Learn more: Twin Marine

In 2010, Pike; Unprecedented numbers of huge fish at a drive-to location

When to fish: Fishing is good all season, but March and May are best.

Where to fish: In March, fish the flats near drop-offs and weedbeds, and in May work back bays and shallow, postspawn areas.

Tip: Tip bait rigs with six- to 12-inch-long bait fish under tip-ups in March, or fling Bunny Leeches and large streamers or Mann’s 1-Minus in fire shad or chartreuse in May.

Walleye; The provincial record ’eye for open water and the worldrecord ice ’eye were caught here.

When to fish: All season long is good, but the biggest fish are nabbed in October.

Where to fish: The spots known locally as Eagle’s Nest and Whiterock near Narrow Hills (formerly Nipawin) Provincial Park are great places to start.

Tip: Troll deep-diving cranks, such as Reef Runners and Rapala Tail Dancers, into the current at 1.5 to 3 km/h, or drift with the current using leechtipped Lindy Rigs with long snells.

—Ted Cawkwell, consultant for sportfishing lodges and other businesses, and former owner of various sportfishing operations in his home province of Saskatchewan

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