As we prepare for the Christmas season, ice fishing activity will be increasing with a break in the weather and the schedule. For those looking to head out during the holidays, there are a ton of ice fishing opportunities to consider. The biggest story since our last report in this province has been Lake Winnipeg. Matt Hobson, who runs Icebound Excursions on Big Windy has been out on the ice every day for the last week. At the start of the week ice thickness was about 14 inches. Matt says that has jumped up to 24 inches in the area has been fishing. He has been having good success in 5 to 10 feet of water, even though visibility is not great yet. A variety of lures have been successful but the use of live minnows has really jumped up the catch rate. This could be partly due to the poor water clarity currently. Matt has been fishing the southwest corner of the lake.
Not only is the lake fishing well right now, but some really big walleye are being caught on the Red River north of Selkirk. There have been a number of Master Angler walleye caught despite the tough ice and water conditions.
This year Icebound Excursions added a second SnoBear to the fleet. Given the rough ice conditions out there and the huge pressure ridges, the SnoBear has been key to get around. There has been some truck activity but caution is advised. Jay Siemens and his wife Sam got to use a SnoBear from Matt for two days last winter. Check out the video here.
While Lake Winnipeg heats up, Lake Manitoba continues to be a tough nut to crack. The bite has died off in many sections in the south part of the lake. Not so Lake of the Prairies. Roger Geres and his wife Sue have been enjoying some of the best walleye action they have seen in years.
Glenn MacDonald lives in Vermillion Bay and guides for muskie in the open water season. Here is his latest fishing report from his part of the world.
“As the holiday season draws near, and folks plan on spending time out fishing, the good news is that ice conditions are great. With cold temperatures lately and relatively no snow, lakes are making good ice everyday. Many area lakes are reporting over 12” of ice. In the Dryden area, the annual barrage of ice shanties will be hitting Wabigoon Lake soon.
Walleye and crappie fishing has been average for this time of year, but frigid weather has kept all but the most hardened fishermen off the ice. Typical walleye bite has been just before sunset, with jigs and minnows being the most productive. Jigging raps and spoons tipped with minnow heads have been a good bet for deeper fish. Crappie has been hitting small jigs, rigged with waxies, or minnow heads for bait. Some fishermen are having great days of crappie when they can stay on the schools, and others are reporting they can be tough to pinpoint.
The Christmas break starting today for most should coincide with a warming trend in the weather. This should be a great time to hit the ice with family and friends. The fishing should get better as we head to a new moon on Christmas eve. And just around the corner from that will be the opening of ‘Laker’ season in this part of Ontario. Exciting times ahead. Good luck out on the hard water over the holidays.”
Jeff Gustafson has been busy trying to get his new boat rigged for the upcoming Bassmaster Elite Series. He is looking forward to hitting the ice over the weekend. He says Lake of the Woods is still not drivable.
“Ice conditions are decent. A good friend is one of the guys that plows the ice roads on Lake of the Woods and he says that the ice is not ready for truck travel yet but snowmobile and ATV travel should be okay. Because of the high water there is more current in the lake than normal so anglers should avoid ANY areas with current.”
You might think Lake Winnipeg kicks out a lot of big fish. Last Mountain Lake north of Regina is not too shabby either. Hooked Contributor Layne Maier is known for catching large fish from a number of different bodies of water but Last Mountain is near and dear to him. He loves catching and releasing these beautiful fish from his home waters.
Nobody would even believe this weeks fishing report, haha. Had my best day ever, 4 walleye over 10.5 pounds. Biggest came just shy of 14.
Layne has started his own guide service on Last Mountain. He has also just released his line of aluminum ice fishing shacks.
Check it out on Facebook at MTN Man Outdoors
Hardcore tournament angler Brad Graham lives in Estevan, Saskatchewan. He was out on November 17 open water on Boundary Dam. Bass were not biting but the walleyes were on.
“Lip less cranks were the go to. Live target perch and glow we found was the hot lure. Casting to shore sitting in 20 to 25 feet. Then on December 1 managed to get out Rafferty to do some ice fishing. It had 6 to 7 inches of ice. I used my Hummingbird Helix 7 to find a spot mapped in the summer. It was on the edge of a deep hole that went from 19 to 38 feet over a short distance. I caught few walleyes and one pike. Water clarity is unreal. You can see 10 to 15 feet. It was so cool to watch them come them come up and crush Live Target lipless crank, the same one I used on Boundary. ”
Dave Shmyr is looking forward to the holidays like everyone else. He says the lakes average 12 inches of ice, so travel is limited to quads. The perch bite remains strong. The schools of perch are located at the end of long points, at the end of dropoffs . Shmyr says the walleye have been hanging around them as well and turn on at dusk. For those after stocked trout, he says the bite has been the first few and last few hours of the day on the shallow flats. The whitefish spawn still in full affect up on the shallow rock flats .