January 15, 2019
Have you ever ever observed that each city, village, hamlet, metropolis, state, province and nation appears to be the world capital of 1 factor or one other? From possessing the most important ball of thread to being the most well liked, coldest, wettest or driest place on Earth. It’s even worse when the locale lay claims to one thing fishy. I imply, what number of walleye, bass or musky capitals can you have got?
So, let me say this: Manitoba is the ice fishing capital of the world — no ifs, ands or buts about it. The province that sits smack dab within the heart of Canada — Canada’s Heartbeat — is the place you go to catch the most important and essentially the most fish within the winter.
The inspiration for this proposition begins with Lake Winnipeg, the twelfth largest lake on the earth and the third largest lake fully inside a rustic with greater than two million our bodies of water.
Extra 8-, 9- and 10-pound plus walleyes are caught on this huge lake on any given Saturday or Sunday within the winter, than are landed in nearly another lake in North America over your entire season. As a matter of truth, extra trophy-size walleyes are iced on Lake Winnipeg in a typical winter weekend, than as in most northern states in a yr.
Is that loopy, or what?
“As nice as our open water season is right here in Manitoba,” says Donovan Pearase, who runs Blackwater Cats, the renown Lake Winnipeg information service, “you merely can’t ignore the truth that it is likely one of the biggest trophy walleye ice fishing locations on the planet. For greater than a decade now, folks have been listening to concerning the big bucks that swim within the inland ocean we name Massive Windy. Older year-classes of massive fish are actually at, or close to their peak for each age and most measurement, so you have got by no means had a greater alternative to catch a really immense walleye pushing 32-inches in size and 14-plus kilos in weight.”
Todd Longley, Manitoba’s well-known — or ought to I say, notorious, Rock and Roll fisherman — runs Metropolis Cats information service and he agrees that Lake Winnipeg’s winter walleye secret has been uncovered.
“What’s so superb,” says Longley, is the ice fishing is just 45 minutes from downtown Winnipeg. The south basin of the lake is world class walleye fishing and yearly anglers from throughout Canada and the USA converge on the walleye Mecca for an opportunity to reel in a monster buck.”
As a result of the lake is so immense – it’s 250 miles lengthy by about 40 miles broad and greater than Lake Ontario – getting round Massive Windy by yourself may be difficult.
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“We information out of properly outfitted, heavy obligation, four-wheel drive vehicles and use high of the road moveable shelters with propane heaters,” says Pearase. “Most teams, particularly regulars, understand that the higher outfitted and extra cellular we’re, the higher we will put them on fish. No group is similar and we run journeys for each stage of expertise.”
Longley, too, is marvelously capable of conquer each situation Lake Winnipeg throws at him. “The minute you step into my one-of-a-kind Ice Ridge Reaper monitor van, you recognize it is recreation on,” says Longley. “There isn’t any the place we won’t go, in any climate situation. And it isn’t a 9:00 to five:00 fishing journey, both. We fish from daybreak till darkish until you need to begin later or are available earlier. I’ve massive Eskimo ice fishing shelters, together with the brand new Outbreak 450i with propane heaters to maintain you heat. And we eat like kings, out on the ice, with a number of the greatest barbeque in Manitoba.”
Being correctly ready to beat the inland sea in pursuit of 34-inch walleyes topping 16-pounds, highlights one thing else that Pearase and Longley say is essential. Timing the height winter chunk.
“Anglers at all times assume March is the perfect time to ice fish Lake Winnipeg,” says Pearase. “Don’t get me fallacious, March presents nice fishing, however that’s as a result of the climate is nicer, so ice anglers have higher mobility. The truth, nonetheless, is that for a few years we have had our greatest fishing, for numbers and trophy measurement walleyes in January. The fish have not been harassed and so they stick round as soon as you discover them. So you’ll be able to arrange a shelter and work the college all day lengthy.”
Longley agrees that first ice is prime time on Lake Winnipeg, because the trophy bucks are nonetheless feeding closely. And like Pearase, he additionally sees a mid-February spike in exercise. “However March insanity speaks for itself,” he chuckles, “with a sizzling chunk and plenty of massive fish. In my view, it’s most likely the perfect time to ice these emerald inexperienced monsters.”
Talking about big eye-popping Lake Winnipeg walleyes, Pearase cautions newcomers to go away the wimpy panfish gear at house. “The largest factor to contemplate is your rod.,” he says. “Conventional 28- to 32-inch, medium and medium mild rods lack the spine and hook setting energy to get the job completed on our massive bucks.
“I take advantage of a 42-inch, medium heavy Quantum rod for many of my heavy lifting. It’s overkill once you hook right into a 2-pound eater, however it’s good for working the lures, setting the hook and getting the tanks high facet.”
With regards to lures, Longley depends on REELBAIT Event sequence Flasher Jigs on his deadstick rod. “My favourite colour is pink and white,” he says. “I’ll hook a dwell minnow by means of the tail and maintain it on with a Bait Button, as a result of barbless hooks are the rule in Manitoba. I will fish the jig and minnow mixture about 6-inches off the underside.
“For the second gap, I take advantage of a Shimano medium heavy rod with a purple and chartreuse Jackall TN 70 lipless crankbait. I snap jig the lure to name within the fish. I additionally use a Pelican Flutter spoon tipped with a minnow head, and a pink and white Acme Deal with Hyper Glide. The facet to facet motion on that lure drives the walleyes nuts.”
One might make a case for Manitoba being the ice fishing capital of the world based mostly solely on Lake Winnipeg, however they might be lacking out on a number of the most spectacular wilderness ice fishing discovered wherever.
“When I’m guiding a gaggle of two ice anglers,” says Bryan Bogdan, proprietor of Wekusko Falls Lodge in Northern Manitoba, “I would anticipate them to catch a minimum of 25 walleyes a day. And it’s a good chunk all day lengthy, not simply on the low mild intervals. The typical walleye is 22-inches with a lot of 24- to 26-inch fish and a excessive potential for a 30-inch plus Grasp Angler.
“After we goal northern pike, however, I anticipate to see a minimum of 25 flags fly each day. The typical fish will measure 28-inches, however you land a pair each day that go 40-inches and greater.
“Those self same two anglers will ice a minimum of eight lake trout each day, and they are going to be greater, 30- to 33-inches on common, with a excessive potential for fish exceeding 40-inches.”
This multi-species alternative is the attraction of ice fishing at a lodge like Wekusko Falls. You may dedicate a day to every species, or combine it up because the day unfolds. And fishing in a scene proper out of a Hallmark greeting card, with out one other angler in sight, solely provides to the splendor and pleasure.
“We don’t dwell the place there may be cell reception in all places,” says Bogdan, “However you’ll be able to drive to the lodge on a contemporary freeway. And you may catch big walleye, northern pike and lake trout with out seeing one other angler.”
The remoteness that makes ice fishing adventures to locations like Bogdan’s does imply that the visiting angler must be properly ready. For those who neglect one thing, you do not simply drive into city to get a alternative. Which means cautious planning.
“As a rule of thumb,” says Bogdan, “it is best to plan to convey 34- to 36-inch, medium heavy rods spooled with 14- to 17-pound braid. This may allow you to catch greater trout and but, nonetheless finesse walleye. Our massive burbot, nonetheless, have been recognized to interrupt rods and also you by no means know when one of many bruisers goes to hit. When the burbot chunk is on, usually in April, you’ll be able to land 15 or extra a day and so they’ll common 28-inches.”
Bogdan additionally says that visiting ice anglers ought to convey a superb provide of rattle spoons – Buckshot, VMC, PK and Flutter Fish being his private favorites. And when the ice is thick and the snow is deep, he finds nothing beats glow-in-the-dark colours.
“Rattlebaits additionally work properly,” he says, “as do tube jigs for lake trout. In fact, we depend on tip ups and fast strike rigs for northern pike.”
What has at all times appealed to me personally about fishing within the north nation is the chance to hop onto a snowmachine and run by means of contemporary powder snow exploring distant waters.
“If you wish to get away from the crowds and expertise a northern journey with infinite fishing potentialities, you need to come to Lake Athapapuskow,” says Brett Baynton, proprietor of Bakers Narrows Lodge. “A singular function of the lodge is the accessibility to so many lakes and the thrill of exploring these distant fisheries.”
After I ask Baynton about the perfect time to come back, he chuckles after which I perceive what he means. There may be by no means a fallacious time up right here.
“Final ice is tremendous fish time,” says Baynton, who as soon as caught eight Manitoba Grasp Angler Award successful pike in a single day. “You may hit the narrows and bays for walleye and pike, or the humps for lake trout. Burbot additionally spawn from mid-March to mid-April and the lakers feast on their eggs. It may be incredible fishing for trout.
“Considered one of my guides, John Wolters nonetheless holds the Manitoba report for lake trout. He caught a 64.5-pound behemoth in Athapapuskow. John additionally caught the 17-pound 4-ounce provincial report burbot that was finally overwhelmed by the 22-pound world report fish, that was additionally caught in Lake Athapapuskow. We have now some heavy fish up right here.”
Heavy, certainly, and oh, my, so lots of them. As a matter of truth, as I take heed to Chris Matheson, proprietor of Kenanow Lodge, nonchalantly checklist his expectations for what a mean ice angler can anticipate to catch every day, I’m left speechless.
“We’re ice fishing pristine waters up right here,” says Matheson, “utilizing the identical skidoo trails because the backwoods trappers. So you’ll be able to customise every day’s journey.
“It isn’t unusual for an ice angler to catch 50 walleyes a day, 20 pike and 10 lake trout. And one thing loads of ice anglers do not understand is that when the season closes within the south and the ice deteriorates again house, we nonetheless have a month of wonderful fishing up right here. The climate is fabulous, and we’re usually ice fishing in sweaters and shirtsleeves. Simply do not forget the sunscreen.”
Heading again south, towards japanese Manitoba, I ask Vance Hrechkosy, the proprietor of Path Finish Camp & Outfitters, close to Pointe du Bois, if the notoriety garnered by close by Lake Winnipeg ever frustrates him.
“I’m not going to take something away from Lake Winnipeg,” says Hrechkosy. “There isn’t any higher place on the planet to ice fish for walleyes. I hit that barren expanse a minimum of as soon as each winter, too, for my walleye repair. A bunch of my common visitors do two or three days on the large lake, as properly, after which come to go to us at Path Finish.
“As soon as at our door Mom Nature opens herself up with an abundance of wildlife and lake after lake untouched by snowmobile site visitors. We focus on trophy pike fishing, icing 40 or extra fish a day with a minimum of one 40-inch plus trophy. We’re additionally proper subsequent door – solely a 20-minute snowmobile journey – to 2 nice lake trout lakes. They’re my private favourite spots for winter fishing as a result of they’re powerful to get into throughout the open water season, however a fast journey within the winter. Lake trout are a bit of extra fickle – someday you may catch 50 trout and the following day 4 or 5. It looks as if as soon as the venison sausage is roasting on the open campfire and everyone seems to be settled in, the fishing depth drops off. “
The ever conservation-minded, Hrechkosy releases all pike over 28-inches and says most of his visitors solely maintain a few small fish to eat. “It is concerning the expertise of getting out in an space the place you continue to see contemporary wolf tracks every day and otters sliding throughout the ice,” he says. “It is a serene place the place filling coolers shouldn’t be the agenda.”
It feels like my type of place and I’m already trying on the dates on my calendar to see once I can unencumber time for a March journey.
That’s, if I do not head west, to the Dauphin area, the place a couple of years in the past I loved continuous walleye fishing and a number of the largest jumbo perch I’ve ever seen. I at all times puzzled if I hit the proverbial pot of gold on the foot of the rainbow, or if the ice fishing is de facto that spectacular.
“It truly is that good,” says Riverside Lodge proprietor, Gil Paradis. “Lake Dauphin has been managed by means of the Intermountain Sport Fish Enhancement program for over 30 years and the outcomes present. Outside Canada not too long ago named Lake Dauphin one among “Canada’s Prime 10 Drive to Walleye Scorching Spots”. It is a lake the place your entire household can take pleasure in catching fish all day lengthy.
“Children actually benefit from the heat of our heated wood ice shacks whereas catching fish proper together with the adults. Our lodge and cabins are very snug for small or giant teams and visitors can drive proper to the lodge, with the Metropolis of Dauphin solely 20 minutes away. And once you fish with us you do not have to journey throughout the lake, as we’re positioned solely a mile away from the perfect walleye grounds.”
Like many of the resort and lodge operators in Manitoba, Paradis accommodates each Do-It-Your self ice anglers, and those that desire to be handled to an ice shuttle out to a comfortable pre-heated shelter after they take pleasure in a sizzling house cooked breakfast. And also you higher eat properly, as a result of Paradis says that the typical Daughin Lake walleye measures between 19- and 22-inches and on a superb day you and couple of mates can anticipate to catch upwards of 70 or extra fish.
I relaxation my case – the proof is conclusive – Manitoba is the ice fishing capital of the world!