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Linda Aksomitis fishing

Linda Aksomitis with Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters — she caught a walleye for lunch!

The best tasting walleye is one you’ve caught yourself–from casting off right through to fighting your fish until it hits the net.

Saskatchewan is a fresh water fishing paradise, although admittedly the vast majority of our 100,000 lakes are in central and northern Saskatchewan. Here, in the south, you’ll find most of our fishing holes are just that, man-made reservoirs.

Lake Diefenbaker is one of these–it was created by two dams, the Gardiner Dam and Qu’Appelle River Dam that widened the South Saskatchewan River back in 1959.

Full, the lake’s greatest depth is around 58 metres, and it wanders for 225 km through the valley formed by the South Saskatchewan River. This makes it southern Saskatchewan’s largest lake.

The lake was developed as a multi-purpose project, recreation being one that has brought a lot of economic development as well as year round enjoyment to the area. There are three provincial parks on the lake’s shore:

Lake Diefenbaker also has four regional parks: Palliser Park, Cabri Regional Park, Outlook, and Prairie Lake.

Mainstay Inn on Lake Diefenbaker

I used the very comfortable Mainstay Inn that’s situated in Palliser Regional Park as the center point for my exploration of the West central part of the province.

Mainstay Inn & Cabins

Mainstay Inn & Cabins on Lake Diefenbaker in Palliser Regional Park.

With a choice of the lodge or cabins, I selected a cabin–there are four single residences in each cabin building. It had a simple decor, done as many Saskatchewan cabins are, with cedar interior  walls. I almost wished it had been cold enough to try out the fireplace.

While my cabin had all I needed for cooking, I must confess that I took the opportunity to eat at the licensed Mainstay Inn Dining Room where they offered nightly buffets complete with Saskatoon pie for dessert (one of Saskatchewan’s best Saskatoon pies I might add!).

The Mainstay is only a few kms away from the crossing for the Riverhurst Ferry. As you can imagine, in Southern Saskatchewan getting an opportunity to take a ferry is pretty rare–in fact, the free Riverhurst ferry is a great stop just to ride a cable ferry.

Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters

My day of fishing started at Miller’s Service in Riverhurst, where we purchased our fishing licenses. Then, after a rush to get the ferry, we drove to Hitchcock Bay on Lake Diefenbaker to meet our guides at Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters for the trip.

It had been a chilly spring, so fishing was just getting going in early-June, in fact, once we were out on the lake our guide (and owner of Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters), Ross Cole, relied a lot on the water temperature to decide where to settle in to fish.

Linda Aksomitis fishing with Lake Diefenbaker Charters.

Linda Aksomitis fishing with Lake Diefenbaker Charters.

I inherited my love of fishing from my grandmother, but haven’t really had a lot of opportunities to indulge myself, so I’m far from being a pro. Luckily, Ross was there to provide advice on the lures and help me cast my line. I’d taken flyfishing lessons years ago in Yellowstone, which like riding a bicycle (I’m actually less coordinated at that than fishing) kind of sticks with you.

I wasn’t the first to pull in a fish, but seeing one on the end of a line sure made me get more serious about things!

Fishing on Lake Diefenbaker

Fishing on Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan with Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters.

It was a morning where the sun came out–then slipped under a cloud–then came out again. I tried different lures, one being a little rubber frog that hopped along on top of the water when I reeled it. It wasn’t lucky for me, but Connie made it work for her.

As the sun made its way across the sky I got a few nibbles, but no takers. Ross had promised us we’d cook whatever we caught for our lunch on shore, so we really wanted to get another fish or two!

Finally, just before we were ready to head back in, I felt a telltale little nibble on the end of my line. Wary of calling yet another false alarm, I quietly flicked my wrist and turned the reel. The walleye followed–well until it realized it was headed for a frying pan that is.

“Got one,” I called, alerting Ross to grab the net.

A few minutes later the pound-and-a-half walleye was in the cooler. It was lunch time!

Fish Fry On Shore

Back on shore, Kerri Cole of Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters was ready for us with a huge picnic lunch. Ross, though, was in charge of preparing the fish.

Preparing a walleye for the frying pan.

Ross Cole of Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters preparing a walleye for the frying pan.

Ross even shared his secret walleye coating recipe:

  • Prepare walleye for the pan, cutting and giving each piece an egg wash.
  • Mix equal parts flour and cornflake crumbs, then add spices to taste.
  • Suggested spices: garlic, lemon pepper, salt.
  • Dip walleye pieces in flour/cornflake mixture

Fry in a cast iron skillet over an open fire.

Frying walleye in a cast iron pan over an open fire.

Frying walleye in a cast iron pan over an open fire.

Ummm, ummm, that was one delicious fish fry!

Interested in freshwater fishing? Here’s a YouTube video from SWTVChannel giving you a glimpse of what makes Lake Diefenbaker a world-class destination.



Fish Lake Diefenbaker with Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters

Lake Diefenbaker Fishing Charters

Ross & Kerri Cole



Fish the Riverhurst annual Walleye Classic for Father’s Day or take in a summer fishing derby —

My thanks to TMAC – Travel Media Association of Canada, and Tourism Saskatchewan, for hosting me on a great trip as part of the 2013 annual TMAC conference!


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