BIG PIKE AND LAKE TROUT THE STORY THIS WEEK
Cold weather has gripped the prairies for the last few days, slowing down both the bite and anglers interest. Phil Paczkowski from Roblin says the last six weeks was great on Lake of the Prairies for both walleye and some massive pike. He says the bite has slowed somewhat with the cold weather. Phil catches big fish of pretty much any species, but he really likes targeting trophy pike. He usually heads out by himself, setting up a couple of tip-ups at the mouth of bays and main lake points. This past week he managed to land five Master Angler pike 41 inches and over.
Roger Geres has been out on LOP as well, landing a beautiful 44 inch bruiser.
HOW TO CARE FOR FISH IN COLD CONDITIONS
Both Phil and Roger won’t target pike on real cold days. Don’t forget if you are tip-up fishing you are out in the open. It’s not like you can land them in a warm shelter. When Roger does fish for them, he has all his release tools in bag. This includes a ruler, pliers, hook remover pliers, jaw spreaders, and a towel. He has waterproof gloves so he can take the hook out in the water if possible. If you are going to use a bump board, (make sure to wet it) it must be plastic, so the fish doesn’t freeze to the metal. If you have the chance, make a livewell in case you injure a fish. Use the livewell so this fish has a chance to recover before release.
Big pike should not be weighed. There is a reason the Master Angler program is measure only. Big pike are an incredibly fragile fish, and mishandling will usually kill that fish. No vertical holds!
While some of the smaller trout lakes in the region have slowed down, Paczkowski says Twin Lakes is still producing some massive Tiger Trout.
Speaking of big trout, Mid Lake, west of Thompson has been producing some huge splake all winter. Dave Colibaba, who lives in Thompson, has been out several times to target these beautiful fish.
I’ve been doing quite well on one of our stocked trout lakes catching some nice Splake, looks like they are spawning in Mid Lake. The last stock report was 1993 with many small ones caught over the years but this year quite a few over 30 inches.
Dave also says the walleye bite up until now has been very good on lakes around Thompson, like Paint, Partridge, and Crop, which is winter road access. He says the ice has been solid but recent heavy snowfalls have created slushy conditions. He hopes the latest cold snap will tighten things up.
Anglers are still able to drive on Big Windy with their vehicles according to Matt Hobson. He says if the wind picks up this week, it will make for tough driving conditions. Matt doesn’t have to worry about that, he has a SnoBear. He has been busy guiding the last month but recently had time to take out the family. His daughter Evelyn, who is three, was able to land her biggest walleye to date, a beautiful 27 inch fish. Great start to a long career!
Matt says while there is a bit of a shallow bite near the mouth of the Red, most of the recent success on the lake has been in 15 feet of water. He and his clients are also starting to see a number of suspended fish, so it pays to keep an eye on your electronics.
Mark Klimchuck, past president of WAAM, is a hardcore ice fisher on Lake Winnipeg. He says when you get a lack of snow cover and a bunch of anglers in one spot with vehicles and noise it will scatter those schools of walleye. A lot of the walleye ice fishing guides on Lake Winnipeg will stay away from the crowds and move around to find their own pods of fish just for that reason. Small lipless cranks are still producing the best.
Friend Jeff Gustafson is escaping the cold weather! Jeff, who spent a quiet Christmas at home, is back on the road again to Florida to get ready for the first Bass Elite tournament of the year. Hooked managed to track him down on the road and he filed this report.
I would say ice conditions are pretty good, fishing wise, I’ve just been going out on LOTW, catching walleye and perch to eat. I haven’t been catching big fish but I haven’t been really trying to. As busy as I’ve been, I’ve just been going out with my wife for a couple hours in the afternoon, catch a bunch of fish and head in. I am fishing
28-32 feet, on main lake humps, using NFT Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons with minnow heads. 1/4 oz, Pink Tiger UV…great LOTW colour.
Tom Armstrong, our Hooked Contributor from Thunder Bay has this to report.
Though the days are getting longer, and we have more daylight to enjoy, looking at my thermometer is it abundantly clear that we are in the thick of winter. It is snowy and cold but the positive to that is the ice is solid. Winter has thrown a bit of a curve at ice anglers in the region, and although there is solid ice, many anglers need to contend with some serious slush. Fishing opportunities are plentiful, but anglers need to be cautious. Nothing ruins a day on the ice quicker than a snowmachine and boots buried in slush.
I was out fishing last week on Lake Superior, about an hour East of Thunder Bay. We were on a piece of the lake called Black Bay, a rather unique piece of Lake Superior. It is rather different from the rest of the lake, and is home to a quality jumbo perch fishery. We headed out with family, and rented a shack for the day from Corey Hayward at Bear Trak Outfitters. We fished several miles out into the lake, and Corey has the shacks set up on the perch fishing grounds, moving them regularly to chase the schools. It is home to some serious jumbo perch, and also offers the chance to catch a variety of other species. We had a great day on the ice. Temps were cold, but there was no wind, a rare occasion on Superior. Between pleasant weather, and relatively cooperative fish, we had a blast. The big fish of the day was my nephew’s 13.5” perch at the end of the tank, a true jumbo!
Thankfully Superior doesn’t often deal with slushy conditions, but many other areas lakes seem to be plagued with slush. Lac Des Mille Lacs, a popular walleye fishing destination West of Thunder Bay has been troubling anglers as of late.
Armstrong is looking forward to the opening of the lake trout season in his zone in two weeks time. He loves fishing Lake Superior for them, but he says the extra two weeks should help with ice conditions in the area he wants to fish. Tom says anglers have been doing well on Lake Whitefish.
Glenn Macdonald, Hooked Contributor out of Vermillion Bay
In Northwestern Ontario unstable weather to start the new year has led to a myriad of lake conditions across the area. Lakes in the Vermilion Bay and Dryden area are reporting increasingly slushy conditions, brought on by wet, heavy snow and rain, followed by deep cold. Further north, in the Ear Falls and Red Lake area lakes are reporting to be mostly slush free.
The colder weekend weather has kept ice fishing to a minimum in most of the area, but those getting out have had mixed results. Walleye and crappie have been inconsistent, mostly due to weather pressure changes blowing across the region almost daily. On the bright side, the increase of snow has made for better snowmobile conditions, allowing access to most backcountry lakes.
I personally made it out for my first lake trout fishing trip of the season and had great success.
Fishing in 55’ of water, our best tactic was a Northland Tackle Rattln Inner Tube jig, with a white Impulse tube, tipped with a live minnow. Erratic jigging throughout the water column would get the attention of the trout who were chasing large groups of cisco. We would get multiple fish come through our fishing area, and catching fish back to back was common.
As the weather looks to warm up slightly, it should be a good time to get the kids out fishing for walleye and/or crappie. Good luck to everyone this weekend.
Wes David- Fishing the Wild West
i’m afraid there is not much to report on ice fishing from central and southern Alberta this week due to the fridged -40 temperatures and 30 to 40-kilometer winds for the last 10-days. Even with the latest and greatest ice fishing pop-up shelters and heaters, most ice anglers chose to stay inside by the fireplace, and I was one of them. The few anglers that did braving the cold cut their time on the ice in half due to a slow bite. The weatherman/women are forecasting warm Chinook winds to hit central and southern Alberta late Saturday and with the warm weather, I’m sure we will see more ice anglers on the lakes and reservoirs and more fishing coming through the ice in the week ahead.
Southeastern Saskatchewan- Brad Graham
Fishing on Rafferty has slowed down some. The fish have moved into deeper water. Anglers are downsizing jig selections and using half a minnow. Brad says it has been a late afternoon bite for the most part for both walleye and perch. Mobility, as always is the key, but is tough to do in the cold conditions.
Boundry Dam is still producing walleye and pike off the old river channel and he says the best depth has been around 25 feet.
Graham has been having good luck targeting Cisco on Katepwa Lake. He has been using small tungsten jigs tipped with a minnow head. He was able to target the fish using his Helix 5 as the fish were suspended at 20 feet over 28 feet of water.