Ice Fishing North of the 53rd

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Destination Cedar Lake

So many water bodies, so little time. That’s the quandary many of us find ourselves in when it comes to our ice fishing goals and aspirations. With handfuls of species to target and a limited window of time and safe conditions, it’s easy to miss out on many of winter’s hot bites. One of those is just North of the 53rd parallel and is one of Manitoba’s best drive-to fishing destinations. Cedar Lake is home to large northern pike, walleye, burbot, whitefish and tullibee and this reservoir is one of my favorite places to drill through the ice and get fishing.

CEDAR LAKE IS A  RESERVOIR

Formed after the construction of the Grand Rapids Dam along the Saskatchewan River in the early 1960s, Cedar Lake covers over 1300 square kilometers. There’s mud, gravel, boulder and log bottoms with slopes, flats, drop offs, sunken forests, deep pockets and bays. It really is a structure fishing paradise. Most of the ice angling is done on the Cross Bay portion of the lake in relatively close proximity to the few camps offering accommodation, with ample hot spots a quick sled ride away. Travel conditions may vary, depending on the weather and year but once there is a good foot of snow and at least a foot of solid ice, you can all but guarantee snowmobile is the way to go. This fishery is as much known for its numbers of fish as it is for its ability to crank out trophies of any species that inhabit the lake and this has been proven true for many each trip they take.

My first trip up to the Cross Bay section of Cedar Lake, the walleye bite was picking up, the burbot were dispersed after the spawn and the northern pike were beginning to stage near bays in anticipation of ice out. The weather was unstable throughout the trip leading to less than stellar fishing, but we made the best of it. Our group always had a few tip ups out and our bait (tulibee) proved irresistible to the northern pike with a handful in the 38 – 41 inch class landed. With ample forage and vast space to grow, the northern pike in Cedar Lake have a good chance to attain lengths greater than most drive to fisheries.

 “This fishery is as much known for its numbers of fish as it is for its ability to crank out trophies of any species that inhabit the lake and this has been proven true for many each trip they take.” or “As the ice season rolls along, the water clarity continues to improve. By the end of March and early April you can sometimes see upwards of 15 feet or more!”

Many folks strictly target pike during their stay and rarely leave disappointed. Some large tullibee fell for a jiggin spoon as well as soft plastics during midday providing a bit of action and fun on the light action rods, their flesh and taste were some of the cleanest I’ve had. In the evenings we were able to find a school of aggressive walleye eager to hammer large jigging spoons on a slope moving shallow before sundown, this bite provided action well into the night! We worked hard for our fish over those few days with many kilometers traveled but were almost always rewarded each session.

Josh with a nice Cross Bay walleye

As the ice season rolls along, the water clarity continues to improve. By the end of March and early April you can sometimes see upwards of 15 feet or more! This makes an underwater camera an almost invaluable asset. Scouting out structural transitions like rock to mud and old tree lines can help put the angler on higher percentage areas and when fishing, lining the camera up with a lure allowing you to see how and what the fish are reacting to or interested in. A highlight for me was watching hungry pike swimming out of the sunken treeline like wolves on the prowl, some of them would even attack the camera itself. While an underwater camera may not be an asset on some bodies of water I fish, during daylight hours it certainly increased my catch rate on Cedar Lake.

Interior of a cabin at Moak Lodge

Wherever your ice fishing travels take you, this is one destination you don’t want to pass up. The ice season lasts longer than ours in the Southern region and often the walleye and pike bite is only picking up in April when our season closes. If you make the trip, play safe, fish smart and get ready for some lasting memories and big smiles!

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About Author

Josh Wood is a freelance writer and avid multi species angler from Manitoba. Fishing creeks and streams to rivers and lakes through the seasons, there isn't a fish he hasn't enjoyed pursuing yet. When he's not wetting a line for one species or another he can be found hiking and exploring different areas of Manitoba.

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