Tuesday, 17 January 2017

ice season so far

Well it's a few weeks into 2017 and after what felt like forever, winter arrived about six weeks ago. There has been no shortage of snow coming into the new year with a whole winters worth dumped in December over three blizzards. By the middle of December some near by lakes had safe enough ice for walking out so our first trip was to the local lake to shake the cobwebs, test new gear and hopefully catch some fish. I hate to admit it but I hadn't been fishing for over a month at that point. I just wanted to feel a bite on the end of my line and after setting up in the sub zero conditions my first drop of the lure produced my first bite and landed fish of the 2016/17 ice season in Manitoba. It was an average afternoon without anything really picture worthy except for the hilarity of the pack up and trek up the snow covered hill in -30 Celsius.

We were all eager for some walleye fishing with the bonus of a fresh feed or two of fish and it was decided that the Red River would be our next destination. It was to be cold and windy, but that wasn't about to stop us and our insulated shack, two heaters and countless layers of winter clothes. Our plan was to get there early, head to one of our spots, set up and hunker down. When we arrived it was clear the landscape would dictate where we would fish that day. As we walked out past evidence of previous days fishing we came upon some ragged and jagged ice, stretching across the river and no end in sight. After a few hundred feet of it we came across an area not so jagged just big enough to set up on so we drilled through the foot of ice and did just that.

The first few hours the bites were relatively aggressive and action steady however the current was a little stronger than we were used to in this area. Sauger, walleye and goldeye were biting and as the day wore on there were fewer aggressive fish and more tentative or subtle biters. The wind had picked up and somehow it managed to get colder over the lunch hour and into the afternoon with a windchill hovering around -40. We all managed a few nice keepers and were able to release a few greenbacks over two feet in length as well. (We did a repeat of that journey roughly a week later to the same area and found the current to be twice as strong and fishing extremely tough. The amount of debris and dirt in the ice did a number on our auger blades and we agreed that was the last Red River trip for this ice season.)

The most recent two trips were out in search of redemption on Lake Manitoba. After last years lack of success and knowing the capabilities of the lake, there was no better time to haul out the Bearcat and hunt down some fish. Success came with relative ease although the weather and temperatures prevented us from exploring out from our initial spot, it seemed we picked a good one. A few pike were landed off the hop and after a lure change I was able to entice a near by walleye to smash it without warning on the flasher screen. Fish were moving through beneath us and with a bit of convincing more often than not they would bite. We weren't going home hungry ....

Our second time out was similar weather and fishing conditions although the ice had increased by half a foot. (next trip out we will need the extension). We were set up about 20 minutes earlier than the previous trip and were rewarded with 5 nice eyes on the ice within the first hour. A few mid twenty inch fish were caught and released over the lunch hour followed by a couple pike in the early afternoon. We had to head home sooner that we would have liked do to someone who shall remain nameless coming down with food poisoning .....  The fishing wasn't easy but definitely rewarding and it was a pleasure to be out on such a vast frozen lake.

With around 10 weeks to go in the southern division ice season, I think the majority of it will be spent exploring Lake Manitoba in pursuit of the many different species it can offer up with the occasional trip elsewhere for exploring and diversity.

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