It’s been really good ice fishing opening for many hardcore anglers in Manitoba and Northwest Ontario. I have been out a few times already with a couple more trips planned before Christmas. The recent stretch of warm weather has made for some comfortable days on the ice.
This past week I visited Lake Manitoba a couple of times, once on the east side and the other out of Delta, north of Portage La Prairie. Both were with long-time friend Jim Price, who has already ice fished about a dozen times since the ice got thick enough the middle of November. He has had some great days on Lake Manitoba, and some not so good. Both times I went with him, we did okay, with walleye caught, but mostly sporadic action.
Price catches as many walleyes as probably anyone on that lake and here are some keys that I am going to share with those who want to give this lake a shot.
The south basin of the lake froze very evenly. There are some small pressure ridges but nothing major. Anglers are driving on and the ice thickness varies but the spot we fished was already two feet thick.
The east side is not so nice, lots of jagged ice and big pressure ridges. Caution advised as is the use of snowmachine or ATV.
There are several access points around the lake. On the south basin you have Delta, and on the east side, as you start north there is St. Ambroise, Twin Beaches, Lundar Provincial Campground to name a few as you work your way up all the way to the Manitoba Narrows.
Now not all these spots are drive on with a vehicle. As mentioned, snowmobiles and ATV’s right now allow more mobility. There are pressure ridges, with the east side having a lot worse ice than the south end. Caution is always advised.
I can remember meeting a friend out on Twin Beaches last year around this time of the year. I was able to drive on, but conditions were a bit iffy with a lot of snow and some jagged spots of ice. A pressure ridge ran about a ¼ mile from shore. After a steady day of walleye angling, my friend had to leave early but I wanted to stay for the low light bite at the end of the day. As I started to drive off, I hit a bad drift and got stuck. I did have a shovel, but it would mean a ton of work. Luckily there was one more local angler still out there, who was able to come over with his tow rope and get me out. It does pay to always have back up if possible.
Price says Lake Manitoba walleye tend to be shallow. We fished just over six feet both times this week. That doesn’t mean we don’t check other depths. We have one angler in our group drilling different depths to see if we can develop a pattern. On the last trip without me, Price moved out to ten feet and got into a good school of fish. That is the deepest he has fished in two years. As always be aggressive in trying to locate the fish but once you do, Jim says sit on them. They will come in spurts during the day, then turn on just as the sun starts to go down. On one recent trip Price and his friends caught walleye until an hour after sundown. Water clarity is excellent so these fish can see a long way.
I find if you mark fish on your electronics and if there walleye, 80 per cent of the time they will bite. Wow, that is high percentage. Last time out I marked four fish and had four bites, landing three of them.
A simple jig and a salted shiner is usually the money bait but last time out the GS 50 Live Target was good as was the Ultra Lite Ripping Rap. Jim Price likes to use a safety spin spinner above his ¼ ounce yellow jig. I have seen him catch a lot of walleye on that bait and some monsters. He has eight Master Angler length walleye caught and released this year, a pretty good record in anyone’s book.
Just like Lake Winnipeg, a ripped lipless crankbait will call fish, while a deadstick with a jig and saltie will seal the deal. Not always though, on my last trip, the Rippin Rap and GS 50 caught the fish. They key though, was to slow down the action once you saw a fish come in on your electronics.
QUALITY OF FISH
Lake Manitoba walleye are fat and sassy. They eat well in that lake. All three of the walleye I landed on the last trip were in the 20 inch range but very chunky.
After the last trip this week I had a very delicious fish taco supper.
Fish Taco Recipe
There are lots out there but the one I use the most often consists of a marinade….which includes 3 tbsp olive oil, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, juice of one lime, salt and pepper. Mix together and dump fish in for at least fifteen minutes to marinade. I cut my walleye in easily managed pieces. Make sure oil is hot before you put the fish in. Cook about four minutes a side.
Make a simple coleslaw, with one cup mayo, juice of one lime along with a bit of chopped cilantro and a tablespoon of honey. Cut up and shred two cups of cabbage, colour is your preference…add a cup of corn along with some jalapeno. (mine was out of a jar and I used three pieces cut up)
Mix all together as your cooking the fish.
Heat up a few Roti shells from Superstore and you’re getting close.
After fish is cooked let sit for about three minutes..then flake and apply to your Roti. Add some slaw, garnish with avocado and sour cream and some more lime juice and your good to go. Yummy. Tastes really good after a long day on the ice.