MANITOBA CELEBRATES FREE WINTER FAMILY FISHING WEEKEND
Free Fishing From Feb. 15 to 17!
Anglers will be able to fish without a licence province wide except in national parks where a federal licence will still be required. Conservation limits apply to those fishing without a licence. Anglers should be sure conditions are safe before venturing onto the ice. It is important to let someone know where you are fishing and to wear appropriate clothing so the ice-fishing experience will be enjoyable.
Manitobans are reminded that when fishing in an Aquatic Invasive Species Control Zone, all live bait must be discarded before leaving the shoreline. Commercially supplied dead bait that has not come into contact with water from a waterbody in an Aquatic Invasive Species Control Zone can be retained by anglers for future use. More information on aquatic invasive species ca be found at: www.manitoba.ca/StopAIS.
The province is also offering free park entry for the entire month of February. Vehicle permits are not required in any provincial park.
For more information on fishing regulations, view the Manitoba Anglers’ Guide at:
Cold weather has spread across the prairies, slowing down ice fishing activity. With a bit of a break over the weekend anglers will be heading out to their favourite lakes.
Roger Gere reports that walleye fishing has slowed on Lake of the Prairies, but people are still getting numbers throughout the day. There is a decent bite for eaters at dusk. Up in Thompson, Dave Colibaba says fishing has slowed down this month. He reports that even though cold weather has set in the last couple weeks, anglers are still getting into some good days for walleye, pike and perch. Days are getting longer late day and evening bite seems best. Jigs and minnows bait of choice.
Lake Winnipeg continues to kick out some mega greenback walleye. When it comes to ice fishing Lake Winnipeg there are a number of knowledgeable guides. Friend Matt Hobson runs Icebound Excursions; featuring two SnoBears. This means Matt and his guests can head out no matter the weather. Americans Nicole Stone and Ana Leschishin made the journey north to Manitoba to fish with Matt..
Check out the video
HOOKED EDITOR DON LAMONT
A big story this ice fishing season has been the number of trophy sized pike caught. Much of that success can be attributed to the extended period of stable, mild weather. Most fish activity level is affected by cold fronts, or extreme changes in temperatures. We have been fortunate this year in that regards.
Big pike love this kind of stability, roaming constantly in search of food. There have been two bodies of water of note, one Lake of the Prairies and the other, the north basin of Lake Winnipeg. Last week Phil Paczkowski of Roblin caught and released his personal best pike from Lake of the Prairies. It measured 119 centimetres (47inches) and by using the weight conversion chart, weighed approximately 15 kilograms (33 pounds). This is a true trophy anywhere in the world. Phil has proved it isn’t a fluke, having landed numerous trophies all winter long. He likes to set his tip-ups on a big sand flat next to the main river channel. This area is about three metres in depth. He prefers that area, because when the fish are up on this flat, he believes they are actively looking for food.
Professional angler Jeff Gustafson loves to target them on his home waters of Lake of the Woods. He agrees that by far the best method is by using tip-ups and dead bait. He can’t believe more anglers don’t use them or even own one!
He likes to use the Frabill Pro Thermal Round Tip-Up. While they have been around for years, he says they are great because they cover the hole. While they do provide some insulation to keep the hole from icing over as fast, they keep blowing snow and bright light from entering the hole, which he is a big fan of.
Gussy uses heavy line, usually 40-pound line designed for fishing on tip-ups, which is easy thick and easy to handle with gloves on. It’s strong and does not tangle.
Gustafson prefers to use the Northland Predator Rig to hang his baits but “quick-strike” rigs for hanging the bait can be made at home as well. He likes the Predator Rig is nice because it hangs the bait horizontally in a natural fashion. Gussy just ties the rig directly to the heavy tip-up line and never seem to have any issues, the fish do not seem to care.
For bait, frozen cisco his favourite, which he catches through the ice while fishing other species They are aggressive and like to eat small panfish sized spoons – if you find them, they are easy to catch.
DEAD BAIT IS THE TICKET – He has tried live bait many times and it never works as well as a dead bait does. On the quick strike rig you have two treble hooks on the rigs, so put one in the head of the bait and one in the back, usually around the dorsal fin. Gussy likes to let the bait hit the bottom then lift it up about one to two feet above bottom, and let it hang. When a fish bites, let it run briefly, then set the hook with a long sweep. If you let these fish run to long with the bait, they will swallow it and will often be hooked badly.
ALBERTA- WES DAVID
Alberta’s Family Day Fishing Weekend
National Fishing Week is a coast-to-coast awareness program that’s been declared Canada’s week to explore the magic of fishing. Parents, grandparents, guardians, youngsters, and new anglers of all ages are invited to experience one of Canada’s most cherished outdoor activities.
In Alberta, we split our fishing week into two parts and call them fishing days. Winters fishing days are held each year in February in conjunction with the Family Day long weekend.
This year’s winter free fishing days are February 15, 16, 17, 2020. During these three days, anglers can enjoy a couple of days of fishing without an Alberta fishing license. However, all fishing regulations and catch limits and any other special Alberta fishing regulations must still be followed.
Fishing is one of the easiest and most affordable ways for families to come together in a meaningful way. Fishing is one of the finest teaching tools we have to help our youth and adults to acquire a solid appreciation for the outdoors and the environment. To help introduce, families, to the fun of ice fishing, Sandy Point RV Park & Resort along with other sponsors and a variety of hunting and fishing clubs and their members in central Alberta are hosting their 3rd annual Family Day Ice Fishing event Sunday, February 16th at Sandy Point Resort on the west side of Gull Lake Alberta. Everyone is welcome and there’s a ton of activities for the whole family.
There are not many drive to lake trout lakes in the province but Cold Lake has some of the best fishing for giant lake trout anywhere in the west. Adam and Sean Konrad of Fishing Geeks fame head out up north.
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO – TOM ARMSTRONG
With the thermometer dipping down to -30C last night (without the wind chill) this seems a good day to be sitting in front of the computer, and not on the ice! It certainly should be making ice today, and helping create some more angling opportunities! I’ve been spending some time on Lake Superior as of late, fishing a few different areas. Lake Superior is an interesting place come winter, and provides plenty of opportunity, but ice conditions can be a bit volatile on the big lake. Some areas won’t freeze every year, and you need to proceed with caution everywhere you go.
I’ve been fishing a protected bay of the big lake in recent weeks, targeting mainly whitefish. Ice conditions have been good, fishing on a solid foot or so of ice. We tried doing some exploring to fish some deeper water for lake trout, but the further we got out the thinner the ice got, so I’ve left that for another time. With temps like this though, it will certainly help.
Around Thunder Bay, and along the North shore of Superior there are a few different ice fishing destinations that anglers can take advantage of. Black Bay, less than an hour East of Thunder Bay, is a popular location to fish jumbo perch, and has had solid ice for some time now. There are several ice hut operators that offer perch fishing opportunities in Black Bay. The ice is good and the fishing seems to have been pretty consistent for jumbos.
Further East by Nipigon there is good ice in some popular angling locations, but some other sections of Superior that are typically frozen are still open, and the way things look it seems unlikely they will freeze. This big, deep body of water, with plenty of wind and current has a mind of its own, and sometimes just won’t give ice anglers a chance to get out.
Similarly, there are several locations near Thunder Bay, that anglers often fish, and can find access through the local, Lakehead Region Conservation Authority properties. Anglers have been fishing at one just East of town, Silver Harbour, and close to shore ice seems good, but the ice out in the main lake seems unpredictable still, and anglers likely will not be able to venture out very far this year. Little Trout Conservation authority is another popular access South of town, towards the Minnesota border. It freezes up some years, but this year does not appear to be one. The most recent report there is there is pack ice in the bay, and open water not far past it, with ice conditions not anywhere near safe. Some other locations out this way seem to be wide open, and despite some cold temps, it isn’t likely it will create safe ice anytime soon.
SASKATCHEWAN – BRAD GRAHAM
Did some fishing on Rafferty Reservoir. Fishing was fair but a lot of finesse was required to get the walleye to bite. The use of my Helix 7 was the only way we caught anything. It was cool to watch fish follow the hook up and down until the lure moved just right to trigger the bite. Some perch are also being caught as well with the odd pike. Glow with pink lures seemed to work best.
For Alameda Dam the walleye bite fair, but mostly smaller fish with odd 15 to 18 inch fish with some scattered perch mixed in.
Boundary Dam is still slow but there are some big perch to be had if you can find them.
Fishing in the SE Saskatchewan has many options with seven or more lakes and rivers all with in and hour to and hour and a half of each other. Lots to enjoy.