Perhaps only golfers understand the anticipation with which anglers await the start of spring fishing season.

To get through Manitoba's long winter, golfers take trips south, play virtual reality courses and stare longingly at their closeted clubs.

Angler holding Master Angler northern pike
Long-time angler Shel Zolkewich is addicted to Manitoba's fantastic fishing. Photo courtesy Shel Zolkewich.

But would a golfer stand waist deep in water wearing a parka on opening day for their sport?

That's the kind of thing anglers do in Manitoba where opening day doesn't necessarily coincide with spring-like conditions.

In Manitoba's climate, that could mean anything from ice-covered rivers and lakes and sub-zero temperatures to T-shirts and shorts temperatures and clear-blue waters.

"There have been years I have been out (on opening day) in waders and my parka," says enthusiastic Manitoba angler Shel Zolkewich.

This year, open-water season in southern Manitoba starts May 11-no matter what the weather and water conditions. The rest of the fishing season opens sequentially from south to north as conditions improve. Pickerel (Walleye) and Northern Pike (Jackfish) will already be biting in Manitoba's myriad lakes, rivers and streams by early spring.

But until then, the wait is on. Starting on March 31, anglers from all corners of Manitoba put their tackle away for six weeks.

The break between ice-fishing and open-water season lands in the middle of spawning and gives fish a break to replenish their numbers.

Zolkewich, who works as a fishing and hunting consultant for Travel Manitoba, has another theory: "It's just to make anglers crazy."

The wait is gruelling for the most avid anglers, including Zolkewich.

She vows to be out there on opening day, likely in her secret fishing spot, casting in whatever conditions mother nature throws our way.

"There is much, much anticipation for open-water season," she says. "It's like Christmas."

Expect this May 11th to be no different. And when Manitoba's anglers set their hooks for the first time this year, it's fair to ask: Who's really hooked?


Tune up your tackle and cast a line in Manitoba. To plan your fishing adventure visit Travel Manitoba's specialty website

What's biting? And where? Get to know Manitoba's best fishing spots and the rules of engagement. Visit the Government of Manitoba's recreational fishing website here.