The weather to start the year has been kind to those of us who love to spend time outside though It hasn’t helped make safe ice on our big lakes. Lake Winnipeg on the west side, is still a risky proposition with ice ridges opening at a moment’s notice. A few anglers have been lucky just to escape the open water.
One group, in a pop-up tent, had the ice open-up under their feet. Here is where the new crack is on the west side. Traced on the south edge using the Humminbird fish smart app.
Matt Hobson, who runs Icebound Adventures, has put together this map of where the crack is located. He was out a couple days ago and doesn’t recommend the west side of the lake out of Warner Road.
Based on what I saw if your driving out your best bet is to head to Balsam, as you’re extremely limited to where you can travel without having to cross a big crack or ridge if you go out from Warner. The majority of the spots I checked had 17 inches but I did find 14 inches in some spots as I got closer to the big ridge on the west side where the open water was before Christmas. I didn’t venture closers as the ice conditions were visibly unstable on the surface.
As for fishing, lots of bait schools out deeper, but the walleye, although out there, aren’t schooled up. I was scanning 300’ swaths at each spot with the Humminbird Mega 360. I found the most action in the 7’-12’ range with a half dozen fish showing up on the 360 at the same time. The bigger fish, however, play by their own rules, and you’ll need to work a little harder to find them.
NEW SNOBEARS IN THE FLEET
Matt is out scouting in his new 2021 SnoBear TL. It comes with a lighter Vanguard engine, standard LED light bar, and upgraded suspension. Matt says they have also changed their floor plan a bit for ease of use. If you want to rent one of his machines, you can get ahold of him firstname.lastname@example.org or call Toll Free 1.844.960.7830
Matt is taking advantage of the Humminbird 360 technology to track down those basin fish. Friend Jeremy Smith from Lindner’s Angling Edge explains how he uses it for finding scattered basin crappies.
Humminbird master Darrin Bohonis was out last week testing the unit on some basin crappie. The following images show his setup and what fish look like on the unit.
LAKE OF THE PRAIRIES
ROGER AND SUE GERE
Lake of prairies still kicking out some good ones! The pike anywhere from 5-11′ feet and perch from 16-24′ feet we find. The fishing its slowing down but still finding some good ones with some hard work!
Many of ice roads are now drivable on Lake of the Woods. Filmmaker, vlogger and You Tuber Jay Siemens has been on a mission this winter with a series of educational videos on ice fishing. He is also doing some great instructional stuff right on the ice. His latest demonstrates how to set up a popup ice tent properly, especially in windy conditions. He also posted a video in which his wife Sam catches her largest lake trout.
Jay has also been catching a myriad of species around his hometown of Kenora, including a night on the ice. You can check all action out on his YouTube Channel. Well worth the look. Camping on the ice has become a thing, with many different videos on how to properly set up for a night on the ice.
VERMILLION BAY AND AREA
Happy New Year to all my fellow anglers and friends!
A new year brings new beginnings, in Northwestern Ontario it brings Lake Trout season. Second only to Walleye opener in May, the opening of Laker season is highly anticipated.
This January 1st was no different, many anglers hit the hard water earlier that morning, including myself and family. Conditions couldn’t have been better with temperatures hovering just below the freezing mark. Ice thickness across the Eagle Lake area ranges from 7-12”, plenty for ice fishing and snowmobiling. One downside of the warmer weather has been the amount of slush on most area lakes. Not enough to be troublesome, but enough to be a hindrance to bring young kids on the ice in some areas.
PRIME LAKE TROUT COUNTRY
Just south west of Eagle Lake is an area well known for great Lake Trout fishing. A myriad of lakes dot the area and almost all hold trophy sized Lakers. We fished a relatively easy Lake to access, although we did have to clean the trail going in, this is a remote area after all. We set up in an area called “The Rock Wall”, and yes the scenery is spectacular!
My father in law, Harry “Mr Reliable “ Sawchuk was first on the board with a beauty, sized just right for the fry pan. Using a Northland Tackle Inner Tube jig and Impulse tube in pure white Harry was able to catch and release three more, including two in the 7 pound range.
I was using a new jig from Drop Tine Tackle called the Trout Tickler, a variation on the classic hair jig. After switching to a Lemon Head pattern I was soon rewarded with a brute that tested my St. Croix Apex Predator rod to the limit. Brother in law, Richard Madussi tried some different lures and settled in on the Impulse tube in off-white and rounded out a perfect limit for us inside a couple hours.
I personally did not get out walleye fishing over the past weekend, but the guys did on Eagle Lake. They were catching them in 25’ of water using ⅛ ounce jigs tipped with live minnow or frozen shiners. I look forward to chasing more Lakers this weekend, the weather looks fantastic and the fishing should be great as well.
I did a bit of searching over the holidays, starting on Pasqua but the bite was not happening. So I slipped over to Echo and the bite was better on north west side. Next day tried Katepwa, with only a couple small walleyes but the Tullibee (Cisco) were on fire. I down sized my tackle to a 1/16 oz. jig with little piece of minnow.
The bite has slowed down on Rafferty. There is still some open spots and some thin ice areas so please be careful. You should check the ice before going out. Alameda Dam bite was slow but picks up in the evening. Some thin ice conditions there as well, so check before you go. With the warm weather here in southeast Saskatchewan be aware of ice conditions before you head. Tight lines everyone, all the best in 2021!
I have been swamped in work stuff. Have only been out a handful of times. Not much new to report. Truck travel is doable most places, ice is getting up near 24″. Still a strong morning bite and some mid day big fish. Honestly in the 3 times I was out since Xmas it’s been tougher, but just not fishing enough and trying a super shallow big fish bite, but haven’t fully dialed it yet.
Happy New Year everyone!
Unfortunately, I was only able to get on the ice three different times over the holidays, but fortunately, it was on three different lakes. I tried my luck fishing for walleye, rainbow trout, and northern pike on Clear Lake, Chain Lake, and Pine Coulee Reservoir. All three lakes are about an hour’s drive south of Calgary. While I didn’t catch any monsters, I had three great days on the hard water. However, what was so exciting to see at all three lakes was the number of kids fishing with their parents or guardians, not only fishing, but catching and releasing fish. Regardless of the size of the fish, kids were landing fish everywhere. It was a real pleasure to see the excitement on their faces as a fish came through the ice.
While everyone is looking for things to do with their families outside of the house and stay within the COVID-19 restrictions, fishing has become many family’s go to outdoor activity. If there is/was a positive that came from 2020 and COVID-19, maybe it’s that many families outside of the hunting and fishing community, introduced or reintroduced our youth to fishing and the great outdoors.
Take a youngster fishing every chance you get. It could mean all the difference in the world to both of you.