Moments and Memories

Written by: Kim Fundingsland
Jordan Hassler, Bismarck, holds a hefty Tobin Lake walleye as father Jerry, Minot, looks on. The walleye measured 28 3/4 inches. Kim Fundingsland photo

It is a special place. The fish are big. The memories bigger.

Tobin Lake at Nipawin, Saskatchewan has long been a favorite destination of fishermen from both Canada and the United States. Every year anglers descend on the Canadian water with the expectation of hooking into a fish of a lifetime. The unique fishery delivers such rewards more often than not.

Many North Dakotans are among those who set aside several days on their calendars for a fishing trip to Tobin Lake. They do so knowing their chances of catching a trophy walleye, North Dakota’s most sought-after game fish, is virtually assured. Ten-to-12-pound walleye are common with catches of larger walleye possible.

A cool, calm October morning at Tobin Lake. Kim Fundingsland photo

Yes, Tobin Lake is indeed a special place that grows huge fish. A slot limit governs the water. Walleye between 21 and 34 inches must be released. Fish under 21 inches can be kept for eating. To help limit injury to fish only barbless hooks can be used.

Tobin Lake turns out trophy northern pike as well. Pike between 29 and 45 inches in length must be released. Lake sturgeon up to 100 pounds add to Tobin Lake’s reputation as a trophy destination for anglers.

There’s an abundance of nature’s beauty that surrounds Tobin Lake, adding to the wonderful fishing experience enjoyed by so many visitors annually. Thick stands of birch and evergreen trees line the shoreline. Those who choose to fish Tobin in the fall, a time when big fish are often on the move and feeding aggressively as winter approaches, will also be treated to the myriad of colors associated with autumn weather.

Cool, crisp mornings often give way to warming temperatures by noon, making it ideal for fishermen to stay on the water and treat themselves to the final days in a boat before winter grabs hold and open water turns to ice.

Accommodations abound at Tobin. Visitors can choose from nearby lodges or cabins that are ideally situated for quick access to the lake. A Provincial Park provides camping opportunities.

Families and friends frequent Tobin Lake. Fishing stories are exchanged around campfires, with a plate of freshly fried fish always within reach. Photos of the day’s best catches are shared along with techniques and locations. It’s fun, informative, relaxing, memorable — a perfect fishing experience.

The memories start each morning over a quick breakfast and cup of coffee. Then it’s time to launch at the boat ramp in anticipation of what adventure awaits.

As the rising sun burns off the morning mist, an osprey glides overhead. Nearby impressive Bald Eagles are perched in bare branches high above the rugged shoreline. A fisherman can be forgiven for focusing on what Mother Nature paints so vividly before turning attention to his or her quest for big fish.

Indeed, Tobin Lake is a special place, but the moments shared among friends and fellow fishermen, and the inevitable memories, make the best fish story of all.

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