The ice is full and thick on most lakes in Northern Manitoba. Wekusko Lake has 16″ average, Reed has 12″ average, and small and back country lakes also have plenty of ice. Clearwater has had anglers on it, and Athapap has angers in the bays, but the main body is still less than 4″ in many spots.
One thing to be sure to take is an axe or spud bar. Our water levels are extremely high, and have almost zero snow on the lakes. This is making pressure ridges like I have never seen before up here. They are big, not freezing, and constantly active. Check EVERY ridge before crossing. One I checked last week that looked harmless, but found there wans’t even 1/2″ ice for 18″ wide. Could have been scary. With our warm temperatures again, the pressure ridge situation is not going to get any better.
The eyes are moving around the lakes. We are finding a very good bite all throughout the day. It has been a glorious spoon bite lately, especially with spoons with a slower fall rate. Gold or pink have been great go to colors. Be sure to tip with a piece of minnow, and try to get the fish to rise to your bait. A lot of fish will hit the spoon even if you missed on the first strike, even though it may be baitless.
Majority of the fish we have found we adjacent to deep water. We really drilled out areas that are 20-32′. It seems a lot of fish are holding to small pieces on the structure. There is definitely a spot on a spot right now.
These toothy critters are found all throughout the lakes right now, in both weeds and deep structure. Either go with rattle baits, spoons, swimbaits, OR go dead bait style with tip ups. It seems like once you found 2 or 3 pike, you are in for a day of action. The pike are still stabilizing into their regular winter areas, so once you find a population of them, it seems like you have hit the jackpot. Also remember to fish the twilight hours if you are searching for a giant pike. At this time of year, it seems like the bigger fish use low light to go on their hunt.
These crazy fish can be anywhere right now. On a recent trip to reed we found lakers in 16-20′, as well as 45′. Remember on first ice that they are post spawn for 4-6 weeks now. As the apex predator, they will be following their forage getting their energy back. Find the forage, you find the fish. I prefer breaks around spawn areas, or structure adjacent to deep water.
Remember in Manitoba you can chum, so take advantage of it. Right now a lot of big girls will prefer an easy meal. Chum brings them in, and a big dead bait laying on the bottom can yield those fish of lifetime.
It’s all about night right now. Eel pout are sliding up into shallower water late evening right now. Glow is critical, do not forget to reel up and recharge consistently. For a change of pace, run a rattle bait as they are acting ferocious lately. Chum is a great tool to help draw these fish in towards you. Breaks adjacent to deep water, and shallow bays adjacent to deeper water are your best bet right now. Anywhere from 10-30′ of water is where you are looking.
Rainbow and Brook Trout
Our local trout fishery has been fantastic this year for big fish. Early ice saw high number of catches with big fish in the mix, however there is less quantity but everything seems to be very large. Fishing in the weeds with flies, minnows, or trout bait has been the most productive. Remember to be quiet, and use a camera when you can. Many fish are picking up bait and spitting it out, all while being undetected. But once you get one of the bruisers on, hold on!
Northern Manitoba has fishing opportunities for everyone. No matter the species or your transportation, you can always get to ice and get hooked up. What can be better than lots of water and lots of fish? How about little fishing pressure and giant fish.
Wekusko Falls Lodge