March Madness has started, and finally so has the warm weather! We have a super large snow pack, some lakes have some unreal pressure ridges, and the S word is extreme on some lakes (SLUSH).
Extreme…yes…but if you want a chance at some big fish mixed in with an awesome experience, then come to Northern Manitoba.
Slush is a huge factor on small lakes, currents areas, and shorelines on the big lakes. When a large snow pack starts to get heavy with warm temperatures, it sinks the ice causing any crack or drilled holes to start spewing water into the snow. Give this a little time, and you have giant areas of wet cement or quick sand just waiting to bury you. Don’t think its serious? You can get stuck overnight and have quite the chore if you are not prepared. Bring extra rope, come alongs, block and tackle, bars and shovels. Also throw in an emergency kit because unexpected overnighters happen. Just check out this local from Flin Flon and the chore they had the next couple days getting snowmobiles out.
Walleye and Perch
12-18′ bays and mid water reefs around 26′ both are holding fish. Small spoons 1/4oz are working great with orange and chartreuse the best colors. Tip these with a minnow head or tail, jig aggressively and then quiver above the marked fish gets a lot of fish top side. Perch are really mixed in with walleye right now, especially on Wekusko Lake, and we are consistently getting 10-12″ with the odd master angler at 13″. And don’t forget the dead stick! A vertical flat jig like Bite Me Jigs out of Regina Saskatchewan, or the puppet minnow work awesome tipped with the back half of the minnow. Suspend this bait 6″ from the bottom, and I personally run The Dangler Rod Holder which allows easy bite detection and forgiving enough that fish don’t figure it out until it’s too late!
45′ was the magic depth before this warm up, but we are recently finding fish are now sliding to feed into bays. 28-35′ was the money this last week as we iced many lakers including a 37″ on Reed Lake. We caught on both dead sticking small ciscoes as well as jigging tube jigs, kamooki hard baits, and flutter spoons. Big rippin raps and jigging raps would have worked as well I am sure. Every fish seemed to be in a different mood, and it took everyone fishing something different for us to be so successful. Do not give up on the afternoon bite either. I was ready to call it done by 11am but 11am-3pm was magic! Be willing to stick it out for the late light bite, as big fish love to feed then! But most importantly, don’t forget the chum!!
2-10′ water beside weedbeds and bays – you will find fish. They are screaming in right now with this warm up as bait is really pushing in shallower. Tip ups with 6-8″ baits has been working great. Big baits haven’t been producing as well, but their time will come as this warm up continues. Herring, Scad, material, ciscoes are all great choices.
With this warm up and being March, our burbot are starting to slide out of those deep dark holes and feed by mid evening. I am sure they are also doing a small pre spawn check out and cruising the reefs for food that they will do their “business” on in April. Again, put odds in your favour using chum, or use bait cloud away from your hole. Burbot have a very strong smeller and further help your odds with glow in the dark lures. This allows total focus on your bait and success will happen. Remember to have your holes punched and ready by that last 1/2 hour of light, as you don’t want to miss that first big pod of fish. An angler can expect a lot of fast action for a short period of time with the first wave of fish.
As Nick Linder mentioned in a recent video “The TRUTH About Fishing“, don’t just expect to go in and hammer the fish. Even though we are remote, you still have to fish. My classic line here is “on TV we make it look easy”. You don’t see me carrying an auger on my shoulder with a full extension, trudging through knee high snow and slush, drilling 10″ holes every 10 yards, refueling the auger, and drilling some more until we find them. Somedays it literally takes a lot of effort, and it makes you really appreciate the easy days where magic happens in just a few holes. I always believe we can crush them every day, but the amount of effort and time is the deciding factor on many days on the ice. Believe the best can happen, and don’t give up. One thing is for sure, the fish are always under the ice and never in the air. Time and effort = success.
Wekusko Falls Lodge