One of my favorite Manitoba trout lakes is a small lake on the far western side of the province. Unique amongst the numerous parkland lakes, Twin offers anglers an opportunity at a very unique “species”. What happens when you cross a brown trout and a brook trout? You get the jungle cat of the trout world, the tiger trout.
Tiger trout are a tough critter to create because of the dissimilarity between the two trout species used to create them. Fish hatcheries have to invest a lot of time and energy to successfully raise tigers. They have a high mortality rate at the fingerling stage and are slow growing. Not much is known about tigers and they can offer quite the challenge for the fly angler.
Last year in 2010, the Canadian Fly Fishing Championships were held in Roblin, and one of the most talked about venues was Twin Lake. We bumped into a group from Alberta who had fished the championships and were back to fish Twin’s tigers. We saw two groups from Alberta, two groups from Saskatchewan, and a bunch from across Manitoba. The lake has been published nationally in Outdoor Canada and the former Canadian Fly Fisher magazine and is well known. The hype has been well received and fisheries re-stocked the lake with a new generation of tigers.
Twin’s tigers are a challenging adversary to catch and can be tough to figure out. This latest trip out to the lake was no exception. I took my friend Alyssa, a newbie fly fisher, to try and get her on one of her dream fish.
We drove the 5-hour trek to north of Roblin on Friday evening, arriving at the lake shortly after ten o’clock. It was a gorgeous evening and within minutes of pulling up at the lake we spotted a big splash at the boat launch. We walked up and saw a decent tiger cruising the shallows hunting for minnows. Was really neat to see and got us pumped for fishing the next day!
Fishing started out pretty decent with lots of strikes but no connections. I was tossing a top water deerhair pattern which is one of my go-to patterns for Twin. For whatever reason, the tigers just go nuts over top water presentations. Later in the morning I managed to hook up with a fish from under a pine tree that had fallen into the water, on a leech pattern fished on intermediate line. The male tiger sported a nice kype and the typical jungle cat markings.
Alyssa picked up the casting pretty quickly and with just a wee bit of guidance, was able to tighten up her loops and start to get some distance to her casts. Next was to get her on a fish and see how she handled a tiger!
After an afternoon nap, we hit the water for the evening. The wind had been whipping from the north pretty strong all day long and we decided to go into the smaller, north lake and give it a go. This time, both of us were equipped with floating lines and top water presentations. After a few missed strikes we got into them. I had placed a cast tight into some flooded timber and was greeted by an explosion from a feisty tiger. Almost synchronized I heard Alyssa yell out as she also hooked up a tiger from a beaver hut. A tiger double header! How sweet is that!
I wasn’t too concerned about my fish and got it in pretty quick. I wanted to make sure Alyssa was able to fight and land hers since it was her first fish on the fly! After a good battle and a few attempts at netting it, I helped out and got it with my net. Alyssa was just beaming! A quick measurement and it proved to be a substantial fish at 24.5-inches! Was a beauty female sporting fantastic markings and colour. A couple photos and we released it back to fight another day.
We continued fishing and managed to each hook up and land one other tiger each. It was a great evening and I was relieved that Alyssa was able to land a couple tigers. Pressure was off. Whew.
The next day we decided sleep was priority and didn’t hit the water until the afternoon. The wind was still blowing pretty good and we decided to fish some new waters. We opted to fish the wind-blown shoreline on the south end. The consensus from talking with other fly anglers fishing the lake was that fishing was pretty inconsistent and slowed considerably around midday. I managed to get into a few during the day however, using small, conehead zonkers and floating line along the wind-blown shoreline. Then I picked up another tiger off a beaver hut with a top water pattern.
The sky began to clear and the sun poked out in the afternoon and fishing seemed to slow even more. I figured the fishing would pick up as the evening wore on, however it never really seemed to pick up. We had a few hits on top water but weren’t able to hook up. The wind died out completely around nine o’clock and the only action we got was a few big boils. Also the hyper-aggressive little stockers that hit anything that moves.
We decided to pack up and try our luck on Patterson. However, the wind was insane and Patterson was practically unfishable. We were both pretty worn out from the weather so we decided to call it quits.
Twin continues to impress, offering a few fantastic tigers but they are definitely getting educated and picky. There are rumours of some immense fish caught as well out of there, up over 28-inches! I would like to get back in there in the fall when they are hyper-aggressive and all coloured up.