Northern Manitoba is currently in a cold arctic “freeze everything in your sight” pressure system. It is brutal cold out there with windchills reaching -40 f or C at times. This is a good thing as our lake ice was very inconsistent. With decent snow pack and warm temperatures, we found ice variances of over 12″ in spots. With some prior warm weather and wind, most of the lake snow has disappeared. This cold and the wind can now make ice fast and make it hard and consistent. Most lakes now have 24″, with bigger deep lakes like Reed and Clearwater have 16″ or more. I personally wait until christmas before I drive my trucks on, but many are already doing so. No snow is forecasted in our near future, so I might be able to guide out of a warm cab in January on vehicle accessible lakes. My hands are excited.
Since it is still earlier in the winter, walleye can be found all over the lakes. Right now I break it down to basin fish and bay fish. As weeds are still green in the bays, if you drill holes and cover water, you can find pods of walleye cruising these weedy areas in 6-14′ of water. Basin fish right now are moving onto structure to feed, but mostly in twilight hours. Basin fish seem to be larger classed fish right now, but the amount of time of the dinner bell ringing is shorter. Rattle baits, jigging spoons, and dead sticks are all working right now. Tipping with a minnow or perch eye has been ideal to make fast commitments from the fish. We just finished up filming with Anderson Brothers Outdoors, and really laid a smack down on the walleye on Weksuko Lake. Dead sticking horizontal jigs with a minnow, or using gold clam leech flutter spoon was the ticket everyday. Here is link to one of the 4 semi live fishing episodes showcasing this walleye fishery from just last week!
Lakers right now can be almost anywhere in that water column. The first depth to try is 45′, and then work deeper or shallower from there. Try getting on a reef adjacent to deep water where those ciscoe roam, chum, and wait it out. White tube jigs with bait or dead sticking ciscoe are getting the job done. Big swim baits are also worth a try, and so are jigging spoons. And flashers are a MUST. You gotta know whats happening down there with lake trout. Lake trout can be anywhere in the water column and also like to chase. You need to make sure you put the odds in your favour with hook ups simply by keeping your eyes fixed to the screen. This cannot be stressed enough, as well as making sure you have a dead stick or tip up set up for your second line. My buddy Matt took advantage of a tip up and landing a 43″ laker from clearwater. That’s a big fish.
Pike are still getting settled into areas that are typical pike areas. Long bays with cabbage and weeds adjacent to deep water are still the number one place to try. Many pike are still sitting in deep water, but they are starting to push into these bays as the ice deepens. Quick strike rigs with tip ups are a great way to set up right now, as can cover water with little effort. Sardines, mackeral, ciscoe are just a few choices to present to hook into these toothy critters. And remember mouth openers. Dead baits sometimes go deeper than planned, so make sure you are ready to help get the fish unhooked with little stress.
The night bite for eelpout is starting up right now. 20′ – 45′ reefs at night are the best way to target them right now. Chum chum chum and then chum some more. Try to pull as many fish in the area to you, and then hit them with glowing baits. The new VMC tingler spoon with ultra glow worked very well for me, as they charge very fast. They lose their charge faster as well, but literally only took seconds to charge bright. Pretty incredible how technology is changing to even help target burbot!
Wekusko Falls Lodge