Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Moak Lodge, Cedar Lake ICE 2017 Part 1

The time had arrived for what I believe will become an annual trek up to Moak Lodge at Cedar Lake. Just North of the 53rd parallel, it is one of Manitoba's best drive-to fishing destinations and one of my favorite areas to ice fish. Large northern pike, walleye, burbot and whitefish are all found in this flooded reservoir and I had high expectations for getting on some bots.

Our story starts a day before heading north. We acquired a brand new Otter XT Lodge and spent from 4:30 PM to 11:30 PM putting it together, which turns out is quite a process. Pre-drilling holes, installing runners and brackets, bars and arms, fabric, bench and hitch took a lot of time. We also had to run 3 or 4 last minute errands in between said tasks. It was a handful and we agreed we may be leaving a little later than expected. Sleep did not come easy that night as I had been looking forward to our trip for months.

Day 1 involved some more strategic packing and we were on the road shortly before 9 AM with a roughly 5 1/2 hour drive ahead of us. We left the melting snow and flooding ditches in our rear views in eager anticipation of fresh snow in the North. With a stop or two for fuel and trailer checks we arrived at Moak Lodge and Campground by about 3:30 in the afternoon. We were greeted by the owner Chris and he let us know the fish were biting and that he was on his way to move his permies. We unloaded the sleds and vehicle of all our supplies, grabbed a quick snack and headed out to meet up with Chris.

He offered us the use of his heated (luxury) permie and we gladly obliged as it was sitting on some great grounds. He had it set up on the edge of the flooded forest along some rubble and rocks. It was ample fishy structure and with a few prospecting holes and a minor re-positioning of the shack we were on the fish. When we dropped the camera down below we were all very excited with what was directly beneath us on the screen. A spawning ball of burbot, 6 or 7 at least all swirling around in an embrace like I've never seen. These sights are rare I'm sure and with confidence Chris exclaimed we were about to light them up and boy did we ever. A flurry ensued with a handful of burbot landed right off the hop. Their mottled pattern and streamline body is a work of beauty and their ability to coil and curl back down the ice hole makes for an added challenge to land them. Every so often a pair or small pack of pike would emerge from the sunken forest like wolves, they too were almost always eager to bite the lure or the camera.

We were on the fish and had no intentions of heading in until we were out right exhausted. We started fishing at 5 pm and ended up staying until right around midnight and when it was to dark for the camera to work anymore, I switched over to the Humminbird 55. We were consistently marking fish but the bite was a little less aggressive then when the sun was up.

Northern lights danced across the sky from east to west after the darkness took hold and dozens of shooting stars flew by in the south. We had cracked the code for day and night burbot and location was definitely half the battle. I couldn't thank Chris enough for his generosity. Sleep came easy that night and dreams were filled with burbot TV.

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