It has been a tremendous two weeks of early ice action here in Manitoba. Some monster fish have been caught, especially walleye. Petro Hrynda and his fishing partner Nolan Plew got out on Lake Winnipeg this week. Petro hooked and landed a beast, measuring close to 30 inches and weighing more than 13 pounds. Here is the story about this incredible catch from the man himself!
PETRO HRYNDA – FINDING THE MOTHER LODE
Reminiscing of the incredible hardwater fishery that we left last March, Nolan Plew and myself had finally ventured onto Lake Winnipeg for the first time this hardwater season. The dreams of giant greenbacks have lingered on my mind since we stepped off the ice last spring, and had I told myself I was about to catch likely the biggest walleye of my life, I certainly wouldn’t have believed it. With the recent mild temperatures, we decided to stay mobile and try some spots looking for some schools of greenbacks.
We found a spot that was in about 11ft of water and we were marking greenbacks fairly steadily. Suddenly I had a giant mark appear on my flasher with a long line of flickering yellow marks below it, typically a sure sign of a giant walleye going nose up on the bait. After what felt like a century, I felt a subtle hit on my rattle bait. Without hesitation, I set the hooked barely moving the fish. Some big headshakes ensued and finally the fresh clear ice beneath gave me my first glimpse of the beast below with only a single barbless rear hook holding onto it on the lip. The size of the fish had already made it difficult to guide into the hole and now I had to ensure the other hook was clear of the ice knowing all too well how easy it is to lose a fish in these final moments.
A QUICK RELEASE
Against all odds, I was finally able to get this giant up the hole nearly losing it on several occasions. We instantly knew this was likely a fish of a lifetime which easily weighted well over 13lbs and coming at nearly 30″. We took some quick pictures to document this incredible catch and quickly released it to ensure we continue to have a trophy fishery to enjoy for many generations.
Congrats Petro on a great fish. To hear more about Petro and Nolan and some of their fishing exploits check out the podcast I did with them at https://www.hookedmagazine.ca/podcast/episode-30-petro-nolan/
It hasn’t been the only beast caught in the last week. Justin Jenken has been down fishing in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba for the last month. He recently headed out the Red River with his dog Sukk. While the ice wasn’t overly thick the action was good! Check it out.
Friend Jim Price has already spent 15 days on the ice on the south end near Delta Beach. As usual Jim says the bite is low light and they usually don’t go out until two p.m. There are finding the walleye in four to eight feet of water on the average. Rattle baits have been hot for these aggressive shallow fish. Jim says there was about two feet of ice in most areas, but he isn’t sure what travel will be like after the recent snow event.
Lake of the Prairies continues to impress for both perch and walleye. Roger Geres was surprised with a big eye while on the perch bite.
ROGER GERES – LAKE OF THE PRAIRIES
As usual lake of the prairies is getting better and better. Lots of ice now so vehicles are moving around, but with the Colorado Low not sure what travel is like. There are reports of several master walleye and perch being caught . There is an incredible evening bite and if you can find them a afternoon bite also. Different parts of the lake the fish are acting differently: some are after a reaction bite yet others a slower smaller approach.
Be sure to have frozen minnows or live minnows. We been trying everything if marking fish and can’t get a bite. Usually something will trigger a strike from small jig raps to slower falling like hyper glides, to small jigs and even jigging spoons with rattles, down to live bait on a jig.
Different depths seem to be producing in the 12-26 foot range. Remember if it’s colder outside or windy take your photo inside as their eyes can freeze so quickly quick. CPR and send them on there way healthy ! Get out and have fun while the fishing’s good !
There are plenty of big walleye coming through the ice in the Wheat Province. Last Mountain north of Regina has been producing some walleye in the 13 pound range. Clayton Schick has been up to his old tricks of catching big walleye on this body of water.
RALPH SMART – PRAIRIE PRO OUTFITTERS
Lake ice forming nicely with 16 inches being reported. Multiple walleye and perch catch’s with pike bite being slow yet. Midday catch’s taking place on finicky fish by downsizing jigs and slowing presentations Prime morning and evening bites on aggressive fish paying off .Experiment with various lures Live minnows are not allowed in Saskatchewan but keeping your frozen minnows fresh on jigs and using just the heads on some lures very helpful!
Ralph is a well know taxidermist and shows us his work on a 16 inch perch caught lost winter.
As residents dig out from a Colorado Low, there are worries of slush building ups on the newly frozen lakes. There has been some decent ice on the small water bodies and fish are being caught. Jay Siemens was out with an underwater drone? Yes, there is such a thing. He and a YouTube follower managed some smallmouth bass.
WES DAVID – FISHING THE WILD WEST TV
Ice anglers are doing well fishing for a variety of species across the province of Alberta. One of my favourite ice fishing adventures at this time of the year involves fishing on two different lakes/reservoirs for two different fish species on the same day. Both these fisheries are not known for big fish, however, they are both known for an abundance of fish and they have been fishing very well since first ice.
RAINBOW TROUT ON CHAIN LAKES RESERVOIR
I start my day 35 minutes west of Nanton, on Chain Lakes Reservoir. Chain Lakes Reservoir is stocked each year with rainbow trout and during the summer months, anglers catch those trout with a variety of spin-cast and fly-fishing technics. However, it’s also a real hot spot for ice anglers during the hard water season with mornings and evenings producing the best action.
The rainbow trout in Chain Lakes Reservoir are not known for their size with my largest being around two pounds. However, there are lots within Chain Lakes Reservoir.
Small Big Sky Jigs tipped with Power-Bait, corn, or maggots in 14 to 20 feet of water straight out from the day parking lot is a great starting point. If the rainbow trout bit is hot, jigging a #6 Len Thompson Lure drives the trout crazy and there is no keeping the trout off your lure.
NORTHERN PIKE ON CLEAR LAKE
Clear Lake is about 25 minutes east of Stavely, and about 50 minutes southeast of Chain Lakes Reservoir. I always fish the north end of Clear Lake. The north end is shallow and loaded with decaying weed beds and easily accessible and best of all, the decaying weeds are filled with northern pike. On my last trip to Clear Lake, between the two of us, we caught and released 33 northern pike in 4 ½ hours with rod and reels and tip-ups. We were using a ½ Big Sky Jig baited with a large minnow, fishing in six to 10 feet of water and between two anglers and four holes, it was more than enough to keep us both busy on the ice.
Clear Lake has produced 35 to 40-inch northern pike, but anglers will commonly and consistently catch 25 to 30-inch northern pike. Clear Lake is the perfect lake for ice anglers who are not worried about the size of the pike they catch and want to land several pike during their day on the ice.
Alberta has more than one lake/reservoir named Clear Lake and Chain Lakes. The Clear Lake and Chain Lakes Reservoir, mentioned in this fishing report are in south-central Alberta near the towns of Stavely and Nanton.
Merry Christmas to everyone from all of us at Fishing the Wild West TV!