Weathering the storm

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Ever been caught out on the ice in a storm? Luckily for me it hasn’t happened that often. In thinking back though, some of my biggest fish through the ice have come when snowflakes are swirling around me.

In the summer, we always take into consideration cold and warm fronts and changes in temperature. In the winter, not so much. Upon review, this is a mistake, because fish are still effected tremendously by changes in weather patterns. Snowstorms in our part of the world also usually mean warmer temperatures to accompany the front. Once the storm is over in 24 hours we mostly have blue bird skies and much colder temperatures. If one can fish during the storm and before the skies clear out, ice fishing action can be tremendous. Fish activity level is definitely higher during storms and warmer temperature fronts. Also if the weather remains stable for long periods of time, the fish settle down in distinct feeding patterns. For example, walleye might be more active early and late in the day if we have a lot of sun accompanied with the stability. If it is overcast and warmer, the action can be good all day long.

fishing-the-wildside-shows-024I can remember fishing for lake trout in northwest Ontario during a mini blizzard when I landed my largest lake trout ever. This fish was suspended in 10 metres of water over 30 metres. I barely saw the flash on my Humminbird fish finder as this trout raced in to just smash my jig. Activity level that day was extremely high and the fish were just cruising looking for food. My best perch day ever came a couple of years ago when the lake was shrouded in fog from melting snow and ice. Air temperatures were increasing and the fish were on mission to eat as much as they could. Time of the year can also be a factor, with walleye in natural lakes becoming more inactive during long cold February days, then picking up again from the middle of March onward.

106_0662I find this to be a similar cast for lake trout as activity level in early January is high, then slows during February. Lake Winnipeg though, seems to have its own set of rules, though frontal systems definitely have an effect. I caught my biggest walleye ever through the ice last year when we had unseasonably warm weather in January. A friend and  I were fishing on the south end of the lake in plus two Celsius. The forecast though called for a huge cold front to roll in over the next two days. Both of us knew it was a great time to be out and the fishing didn’t disappoint. Both of us caught our personal best walleye through the ice along with some other really nice walleye. We had been out at first light and packed up to go home at noon before the weather changed too dramatically.

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Don Lamont - The Complete Angler Don Lamont has been a full time professional angler for 34 years, hosting and producing the award winning “The Complete Angler” television series for fifteen of those. Don has received several awards for his commitment to public education and the future of recreational fishing in Canada. Those include a 2000 Canadian Recreational Fisheries Award for his work with Manitoba’s Urban Angling Partnership. In 2003 he received a Manitoba Tourism Award for his promotion of Manitoba and western Canada. In 2004 he was a finalist at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada National Award for Tourism Excellence, presented by The Globe and Mail. Don has been a regular fishing columnist in the Winnipeg Free Press since 1992 and is currently editor of Hooked Magazine.

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