As we opened up our motel room door on Monday morning we were greeted by deep snow. There must have been about eight inches of the white stuff to push off of our vehicle. Snow plows were busy in the town of Roblin as we met up with Phil Paczkowski at Patch’s Bait Shop. While Phil owns this tackle store, he is too busy with the other parts of his business to spend much time there. He has his sister run the store while he runs Yo-Fisherman Outfitting.
He has a minnow trapper’s license and supplies live bait to the region. His biggest business though is his ice shack rental on Lake of the Prairies with a huge clientele from the region. He can accommodate up to 24 anglers a day in his heated shacks. He is also busy guiding ice anglers in March and April to the many stocked trout lakes in the region. In the open water season he has Jon boat rentals for anglers, especially the fly fishing crowd that don’t want to haul up a boat from long distances. You can find Phil online at www.parklandsboatrentals.ca
On this morning we were destined for one of his many ice shack rentals near Pyott’s Point on Lake of the Prairies. We followed Phil in his small Tacoma (with 600,000 kilometres on it!) down a back road and onto the lake. Even though there was 13 inches of solid ice on the lake, we decided to park Pete’s heavy ¾ ton diesel and head out in the Tacoma the ¼ mile to the heated shack we would be fishing out of. Phil quickly had the wood stove burning with a nice pail of live minnows plus a package of gorgeous frozen shiner minnows that he had trapped and packed himself. We would be fishing 21 feet of water on the shoulder of the main river channel, a spot that Phil has been catching fish on for the last 30 years. In no time Pete and I had five fish on the ice, one over the protected slot size of 45 to 75 centimetres. I had caught one on a lipless crankbait but the rest came on a live minnow and ¼ ounce jig. Paczkowski says the walleye on Lake of the Prairies seen to prefer bait rather than artificials and it seemed to be the case this particular day. In the nice heated comfortable shack I got to pretty much try every ice fishing lure in my repertoire. I caught two walleye on lipless crankbaits, none on jigging spoons and the rest on jigs and minnows.
Of course, like any fishing situation this will change day to day but live bait certainly seems effective on this lake.
We had steady action all day long and Phil says the fishery is very healthy again with anglers having excellent success through the ice. It has only been since Sunday that anglers have been driving out so one has to exercise caution if they are considering driving out. It is well worth the drive and if you want to fish in comfort give Phil a call at 1-204-247-0055. He will make sure to look after you and get you on the fish!