As the weather turns colder this week, anglers in this part of the world are gearing up for another ice fishing season. Many will be relatively new to the sport as we look for ways to be outside. What could be better isolation than on a frozen body of water in the middle of nowhere?
In this pandemic time, information on where to go and how to do things properly are on top of mind. Ryan Suffron, who is charge of outdoor product marketing for Travel Manitoba, commissioned prolific vlogger and film maker Jay Siemens to produce a ten-part series. It is the beginner’s introduction to ice fishing. Starting with ice safety, the short series of videos goes through all the equipment options and ends with how to find fish. This is a quick, easy guide to get you pointed the right direction.
STOCKED TROUT TIME
If you can travel a bit of a distance from your home, many anglers like head out to the stocked trout lakes we have in the province. One area that I have never been to (not sure why) are the Reynolds Ponds.
Located approximately 10 kilometres north of Richer on Forestry Road 13, there are nine ponds to choose from. The ponds are stocked by Manitoba Conservation every spring and their proximity to the city makes them a popular destination. The various ponds have a combination of rainbow, brook, and brown trout. There are also some massive largemouth bass that exist in the larger ponds. Nobody is quite sure how they got there but have become a huge attraction to anglers.
WHITESHELL FISH HATCHERY
In talking to fisheries managers in the province, despite the pandemic, the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery was running at full speed this year. A myriad of lakes and ponds were stocked across the province. The La Forge pits, located right next door to the Reynolds ponds, also received some tiger trout. If you are heading to this area for the first time, I recommend you go on Google Earth or satellite to find exactly were it is.
Friend Darrin Bohonis got his kayak out this past spring and used Autochart Live to map both the Reynolds and La Farge pits. The old La Farge site has three pits, two quite large and deep. These hold a variety of species including smallmouth, largemouth, rainbow, brown and now Tiger Trout. This beautiful hybrid has been a hit in the province, with Twin Lakes in the Duck Mountains the shining star.
For more information on Twin and others in that part of the world visit the Swan Valley Sport Fishing Enhancement website. This award-winning non-profit group has assembled a staggering amount of information on bodies of water in this region. If you go to there Go Fish page you will be able find lake specific information including species available, location and for some, hydrographic maps for anglers. Chris Tyschinski took advantage of that information to get this Manitoba Master angler rainbow from Beautiful this week.
BARBE LAKE STILL GREAT
One lake that continues to provide excellent stocked trout fishing is Barbe Lake up by The Pas. I would have to say of all the stocked water that I have fished this would have to by my favourite by far. With travel restrictions to the north I will have wait awhile for a return visit.
The Manitoba Fisheries Department is currently redoing their website, which means more lake information will be coming back online. There is currently fish stocking data on the “Lake Information for Anglers” site. Missing are the lake maps which provide information such as bathymetric data, fish stock assessment data, and launch photos. The province is almost done on its relaunch of the site.
Many anglers, while waiting for good ice, are heading to the field in search of a deer for the freezer. Central and northern Manitoba got hit with the recent snowstorm that swept across Albert and Saskatchewan.
With low water levels in the central and southern part of Manitoba a heavy snow cover would jeopardize the smaller, shallower lakes. This will reduce oxygen levels and in some cases of a long, cold winter cause total depletion resulting in winter kill. Low oxygen levels slow activity level in these lakes. That’s another reason to target stocked trout water before Christmas. These fish are much active at first ice and success ratio is better. Anglers are venturing out already on the smaller lakes in the Duck Mountains, but another week of cold temperatures will make things a lot safer. No need to rush. Especially with the province in Code Red.
Of course one of the first anglers out in this part of the world was Aaron Wiebe.
Jeff Gustafson is glad to be back home after a month on the road fishing the final events of the Bassmaster Elite series. Gussy got the job done and qualified once again for the Bassmaster Classic next year. He is planning to spend a bunch a time on the ice near his home by Lake of the Woods. He also has this recommendation for anglers looking for new water to fish.
By Jeff Gustafson
Anglers who fish in Ontario are very lucky to have a great tool available to them from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The Fish ON-Line website (Google it) has been around for several years now but I feel like many anglers have not taken advantage of it to help plan their fishing adventures.
Have you ever driven past a lake on the side of the road and wondered “what fish species are in that lake?” With this website you can simply click on an icon attached to each body of water in the province and get a listing of the fish species in that lake.
You can also see which lakes are stocked with trout and the numbers that have been stocked in those lakes. You can look up lake or zone specific fishing regulations, look at aerial maps of the province and even see depth maps of some waters on this website. If you like to do your homework before you go fishing, this site has an endless amount of data to explore. Check it out and thank me later!
Heavy snowfall through central Saskatchewan has ground ice fishing to halt for the short term. The weather has turned really cold this week in the central and northern part of the province so it won’t be long until there is some good ice, even with the snow cover.
Wes David, Fishing the Wild West Television
The weather in Alberta turned nasty during the last two weeks of October, and instead of venturing out, most anglers have resorted to winterizing their boats and preparing their ice fishing gear so they are ready for their first ice fishing adventure of the season. Some Alberta anglers are getting an early start to their hunting seasons and will deal with their ice fishing gear at the end of November.
However, if your boat requires any repairs before next year’s fishing season, it would be best to book it in now and have it worked on over the winter months. Prop Master, out of Airdrie, Alberta was booked solid when I tried to book my boat in for some minor skag damage and repair and if you need a new prop or you just want a spare prop, order it now so it’s here for the 2021 boating season.
Also, there was no end to the lineup of boats waiting to be winterized at the Tracker Boating Center in Rocky View. This is a common theme at most marine dealers in Alberta. It seems odd to be thinking about the 2021 open water fishing season now, but for those anglers that get that needed boat maintenance out of the way over the winter months are sure to be on the water opening day.