There’s no doubt that Manitoba has some of the most hard-core ice fisherman in North America. From the end of November all the way to the end of March we here in Manitoba hit the ice every chance we get. While most people pray for warm weather, here we pray for ice! Lake Winnipeg has become the number one destination for us cold water cowboys. It is a great place to fish if you’re looking to hook up with a monster green back walleye. Even our brothers and sisters from the south know just how awesome ice fishing for big green backs can be up here.
Here’s some helpful tips to get started
There’s safety in numbers. Most times that I go out on Lake Winnipeg (AKA Big Windy), I go with a group. You don’t want to break down or get stuck out there alone. Bring booster cables, a shovel and a tow rope. A GPS is a must. It will help you find your hot spots for the walleye and also get you off the lake in case you get lost or if there’s a white-out. A cell phone is a must as well in case of an emergency. As far as your choice of transportation goes a 4×4 is a must at the very least. Even better if you have a snowmobile or tracks on your truck. A SnoBear is probably your best bet!
Dress warm. You can never bring too many warm clothes. I like to eat warm food when I’m ice fishing, so I bring a BBQ along.
There’s all kinds of ice augers out there. My choice would be the Eskimo propane ice auger because it’s so easy to start. Or you can try the electric Ion ice auger. It’s very light but just as effective as any gas powered auger. Both will get the job done. It’s also good to have an extension for your auger as the ice can get pretty thick by February.
You can build you own ice hut or you can get a portable one. Portable ice tents come in all sizes and can come in handy on those cold days, and we get lots of them here in Manitoba. I myself like the Fatfish Six from Eskimo. It pops up fast and is very easy to put away, plus it has lots of room. A good propane heater will keep you warm all day as well. Also a nice comfortable chair is a must.
HOW TO FISH LAKE WINNIPEG
In Manitoba you can use two rods per person. So I will have one I call the dead stick. Basically it’s a ice fishing rod in a rod holder that has a Reelbait Flasher Jig with a live minnow hooked through the tail and held on by a Bait Button rigged to it. The jig will sit about a foot from the bottom and the live minnow will do all the work. On my second rod, which will be a little longer and stiffer, I will put on a Jackall Lipless Rattle Bait. I will put half a frozen minnow on one of the treble hooks held on once again with a Bait Button. To work this lure you need to pull it up in a snapping motion then let it drop to the bottom and rattle it a few times, then snap it up and repeat. If you feel dead weight, set the hook. There’s the always popular Live Targets, as well as Pelican Lures’ trolling spoon. Rapala has good rattle baits that put fish on the ice too. Flutter spoons are deadly tipped with a frozen minnow.
I don’t like to fish blind, so I never leave home without my Hummingbird ICE 55 Flasher. I have it placed between my dead stick and my snap jigging rod. The Ice 55 will show you what on the bottom as well as suspended fish. It just like playing a video game but with real life results.
I have a number of people ask me how they can get started ice fishing. The first thing I would recommend is to go to Cabela’s and talk to the staff in the fishing department. They can not only outfit you but they can tell you where the walleye are biting and on what. Another great way to get started is to join WAAM (Walleye Anglers Association of Manitoba). They’re an awesome fishing club and it’s a lot of fun to be a member. Well that’s all for now. I would like to wish everyone a safe and successful ice fishing season.