Originally published in The Lance (2015 07 15)
On Saturday, June 13, Save Our Seine held its first-ever Family Fishing Derby. Two keen anglers from the SOS board (Liam and Kevin) hosted the event at John Bruce Park. They suggested sharing their love of fishin’ the Seine with other new and experienced anglers as a part of SOS’s 25th Anniversary.
Despite its name and history, few Winnipeggers today think of the Seine River as a fishing river. By the end of the event, it was clear that we should.
The Seine River is a small tributary of the Red River that winds for 26 kilometres through the heart of St. Vital and St. Boniface. People often assume that it was named after the Seine River in France when it may actually have been the translation of the Aboriginal word Tchimâhâgânisipi from Tchimâhâgân (meaning draw net or seine net) and sipi (river).
The Seine River’s small size and relatively shallow depth would have been ideal for early people to catch fish using a seine net. Today, it is equally good for shore fishing. As our anglers proved, the Seine River is home to some decent-sized game fish.
Thirty-two species of fish have been found in the lower reaches of the Seine River. They can be broadly organized into three categories. Game fish are big enough to eat and are fun to catch with a fishing rod. Bait fish are small “minnows” that we use as bait to attract bigger fish. “Food chain” fish are medium-sized fish that are important food for the bigger game fish.
According to the research of Bernard Gaudet, the most abundant fish in the urban Seine River are: black bullheads, emerald shiners, fathead minnows, common shiners, and longnose dace. Bullheads are easily caught from shore using basic fishing tackle. They like turbid (murky) water and are often the first fish caught by young anglers. The emerald shiner is a common “minnow” used as frozen bait in Manitoba. The fathead minnow is an important live bait. Common shiners and longnose dace are natural prey for larger game fish.
Local anglers have reported several game fish that were not found during Gaudet’s study. The game fish reported in the Seine River include: black bullhead, brown bullhead, freshwater drum, channel catfish, northern pike, rock bass, black crappie, walleye, sauger, yellow perch, goldeye, and burbot – 12 good reasons to spend some time this summer fishin’ the Seine.
Michele Kading is a community correspondent for St. Vital and the executive director for Save Our Seine. Go to www.saveourseine.com for details of these and other 25th Anniversary events.