I love to ice fish! I know a lot of people find it hard to fathom why I would want to venture out on a frozen lake or river, but the challenge and the beauty of the experience is pretty special.
For me, that experience gets better every year, propelled by the expanding knowledge that surrounds this sport. The equipment we use keeps getting better -- including the clothing and portable shelters that allow us to fish comfortably in even the toughest conditions.
With snow falling and ice anglers just now starting to venture out, I made my way to a local bookstore to pick up the 2014 edition of the In-Fisherman Ice Fishing Guide.
As I wrote in my column last year at this time, I was taken with the idea of single action ice fishing reels and their role in eliminating line twist. While last year there were a couple of different reels available, there are multiple choices available now. These units allow an angler to spool line straight on, thus preventing line twist. With no line twist, the jig will not spin in the water column, a real bonus when trying to trigger fish to bite.
Last year I tried to use some of my fly reels, but line pickup and handle size were not user friendly in the cold. These new ice reels eliminate those problems with big handles and big inner spools that pick up line at a rapid rate. The good models also come with an expert drag system. The model that caught my eye is the new Expedition Paddle Reel Combo. This company has some leading-edge products and you can check it out at expedition-outdoors.com
One of the articles in the magazine focused on new walleye presentations. Author Matt Straw got guide Jason Mitchell to spill the beans on a technique that should be a huge success on Lake Winnipeg this winter. Mitchell uses a technique he learned from bass anglers (called the umbrella rig), but he adapted it for ice fishing. He uses six, that's right, six Salmo Chubby Darters fished in a row to imitate a school of bait fish. Mitchell says to make it legal and effective, all the hooks come off the first five baits. He ties them together with a four inch leader from the bottom hook hanger on the bellow to the top eyelet of the next lure and so on. He then slowly drops them to the bottom on a medium-action rod and lifts them up and down. He uses the same size lure in the pattern and is not too aggressive with the jigging motion. Mitchell says this technique triggers fish to bite in even the toughest conditions and calls them in from a long way out. I can hardly wait to give it a try.
At this time of year, up until the middle of January, jigging spoons and lipless crankbaits are really good choices for walleye, trout, perch and most anything that swims. A friend recently introduced me to the PK line of lures. Friends from Saskatchewan, whom I fish with on a regular basis, rave about the PK Spoon and the PK Flutterfish for walleye. I decided to check out their website this week at www.pklures.com and saw some amazing video on the product. One of the videos was of Saskatchewan angler Tim Geni catching a 84-centimetre walleye on a 3/8 ounce PK spoon in the Red Dot Glow pattern. I can hardly wait to give them a shot on Lake Winnipeg this year. That's why I love ice fishing, so many things to try and so little time.