Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Moak Lodge, Cross Bay, Cedar Lake Ice Trip

What a weird and wacky winter this one has been. Insanely cold deep freezes, too much wind for anyone's liking, awkward mild spells and barely any snow in the south. The last week of March had us heading up to Moak Lodge on Cross Bay of Cedar Lake in search of trophy, pike, burbot and whitefish. When we arrived we were greeted with more than enough snow, at least four feet of ice on the lake and a pretty good first day of fishing. However the weather took a turn in the days to come, bringing in 30 - 70 kmh winds for most of the duration of our trip.

With the conditions for prospecting and fishing outside basically nil, we decided to rent Chris's tricked out ice shack. With the wood stove raging and quiet gas generator charging the batteries, we had everything we needed. Not to mention a 32 inch flat screen T.V. to hook the camera up to. My wife definitely approved of this set up and was more than willing to put in some time while we all tried our luck. While the weather had seemed to make the fish finicky we still managed to hook into a few good ones, with a couple large pike giving us a run for our money, but none made it ice side.

From the comfort and shelter of the ice shack we saw groups struggle to set up and more than a few pop up shelters were collapsing in on themselves. We even had a group use the ice shack we were in as a wind break. They were even so "kind" as to lift my snowmobile out of their way and set up ten feet from us.

While the weather and fishing left something to be desired, there were a few notable fish caught including my wife's first burbot at 29 inches. (pictured on the right) There was also a nice 23.5 inch whitefish that comes with quite a story .....

This reservoir is known for trophy whitefish and many were seen on the camera throughout our trip, getting them to bite was a different story. Often the whitefish swim by a foot or two off the bottom with minimal interest in lures or bait and they are BIG! These fish don't attain this size by being dumb and many the presentation gets snubbed. Occasionally a feeder cruises by and cleans up the minnow pieces that have fallen off lures, it's then that the best chance to hook into a beastly Cedar Lake whitefish is had. But one needs to be prepared and have a bit of luck on their side ....

Our group had decided to set up a rig for whitefish while fishing in the ice shack and take turns keeping an eye on the rod and camera screen. A small hook was stuffed inside a minnow chunk and dropped to the bottom among a few other pieces. The idea is when a feeding whitefish comes along, the piece with the hook hidden inside gets sucked up and the fight is on. When it was my 15 minute shift at the whitefish rod, no more than five minutes had passed when one showed up. This one was hugging the bottom and eagerly sucked up three pieces of minnow but not the one with the hook. This fish continued to swim around beneath us inspecting lures and sucking up other minnow chunks while completely avoiding the one with the buried hook...

When my time was up at the whitefish rod, I quickly dropped down a minnow piece with a hook buried in it tied on to my ultra light rod with two pound test line. I had the rod along in case we were going for tulibee, which Cedar is also known to crank out trophies of. I wouldn't recommend using such a light set up for these giant whitefish but I had landed a few upper 30's incidental pike while perch fishing in the past so I had the confidence needed if I was to hook up. My minnow piece slowly sunk down through the water column, each second of descent feeling like an eternity. Luckily the whitefish was still around and right as my minnow piece hit the bottom, the fish zoomed over and sucked it up. The fight was on and the battle that followed was one I won't soon forget. The fish had weight and tenacity, pulling drag at will and after a few minutes I was able to get the upper hand. After some tense moments right under the ice, I was able to guide it up the hole and Frodo landed it with care.

With a cabin booked up that way for the end of June, it looks like the next crack at Cedar Lake will be in the open water season. There are still a few weeks left of ice fishing up north but it looks like schedules and life might not allow me one more chance on the ice this season.