Lake Winnipeg is on many ice anglers’ bucket lists, but it should be on everyone’s short list – it’s a big, intimidating body of water, but it’s more accessible than you’d think.

Most years, it’s vehicles with tracks only until things start thawing in the spring, but this winter’s relatively low snow fall mixed with unseasonably warm temperatures have made for easy travel on Big Windy. Our group of 7 was out on snowmobiles, ATVs and a side by side, but there were hundreds of pickups and SUVs out on the lake (don’t get me wrong, it would be an ungodly bumpy ride in a pickup, but it’s doable).

We found success in the usual Winnipeg ways – popping lots of holes, covering lots of ground, using rattle baits and spoons, and focusing our efforts near pressure ridges and exploring the expansive flats beyond the ice heaves. You don’t read Buzz Reports to hear the same advice regurgitated over and over again though, so here are some specifics of what we made work for us:

Greenback Walleyes

🔹 When the fish want a certain presentation, go all in. We fished Friday through Sunday and each day it was something different: Friday was all about the rattle baits, Saturday was a vertical presentation and Sunday it didn’t matter what we threw at them, they weren’t interested. 90% of the fish we caught came from that day’s preferred presentation – when you figure out what works, stick with it.

🔸 Spread out until you find fish, but move close once you do. Our mobile group of 7 made it easy to make swiss cheese of big areas, but once we found the schools we’d move close. I’m guilty of drilling holes 3-4 feet from buddies who had hot holes – we both plucked fish at the same time even at arm’s length away.

🔹 Give them the meat. When spoons were hot (Slender Spoons were the #1 producer for our group, in gold with perch stripes or neon colors – bigger spoons worked, but not as well as the trusty Slender Spoons) tipping them with a minnow head or a full saltie induced a ton of strikes. To keep bait from slipping off the barbless hooks, we’d stick a little soft plastic bait on top which worked very well.

🔸 When the bite was hot, we didn’t always get a chance to re-bait – we found tipping treble hooks on rattle baits with TriggerX Mustache Worms or other small plastics increased our odds of putting fish topside.

Lipless Crankbait with Mustache Worms

Our group ended with six fish over 26″ with 60+ eater fish on the weekend and a few from 20″-24.5″, the biggest being a 28″ Master Angler. We had a few other contacts in the area over the same time and the reports all sounded the same: eaters for days with big girls being a bit tougher to come by. The fishing is only going to get better as we get closer to spawning. If you’ve been wanting to get to Lake Winnipeg, February and March 2017 is the time to do it!

Alec Winmill

Twitter: @al_winmill
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