Posted by: Vicki Burns | July 28, 2010

Lake Winnipeg Fishermen Encounter Extreme “Dirt” in Their Nets

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet a three generation family of fishermen, the Kristjansons, from Gimli whose family have made their living fishing on Lake Winnipeg since 1891. Robert T. Kristjanson , the senior of the family, has been a vocal advocate for action to clean up Lake Winnipeg for a number of years now. He remembers as a child that he used to be able to dip his cup into the lake whenever he wanted a drink of water. He doesn’t think that anyone feels comfortable doing that these days though. 

image of commercial fishing boat in Gimli Harbour

The Lady Roberta, Kristjanson Family Fishing Boat


Kris, his son and Trevor, his grandson went fishing in the north basin of the lake at the end of May into early June and encountered something they’d never experienced before. So much “dirt” on their nets that they weren’t able to catch any fish. The dirt they were referring to was algae that turns black after dying. In the areas they were fishing the dirt was so thick that it coated their nets and the fish were able to see the nets and avoid being caught. 

image of algae sludge on beach

Close up of algae sludge on beach


They had to go further a field to get away from the thick algae dirt and get a decent catch. So although generally the catch for fishermen is plentiful, there are concrete signs that the current situation is not sustainable and will ultimately interfere with the fishermens’ ability to make a living. 

Makes me think there is not a moment to waste in our quest to clean up the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.



  1. Something has to be done about massive widespread Education across the Watershed. It has been known that the situation would get worse before it gets better, but everyone needs to understand that we ALL still have to do our bit !
    Some of us will not be around to see the improvement, but that is not an excuse to do nothing !
    Mo Tipples

    • I agree. It is so frustrating to know that there is lots we could be doing right now to stop the excess nutrients getting into the water but htere seems so little awareness of what those things are amongst the general public.

  2. good forethought and initiative to suggest that something has to be done.. but then who is to “bell the cat” technology is available to treat wastewater before discharge…which is polluting lakes, ponds, rivers and of course the sea…collective approach from all occupants of the planet earth will surely help to give our children a better world…

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