With the arrival of cold weather, ice conditions across the province have improved dramatically. Many anglers are taking advantage of good, solid ice to get onto the Red River north of Selkirk.
Some fish are being caught closer to Lockport, but many anglers target deeper stretches of the river all the way to the end of Main Street.
Most ice anglers are reporting ice thickness of 20 centimetres. Of course caution is required because there are always thin spots when current is involved.
At this time of year, I love fishing the deeper water in order to trigger bites from the suspended walleye. It seems now more than any other time they will suspend a long way off the bottom. This means it is critical to have a portal depthfinder along to spot these fish.
On my Hummingbird Ice 55, I always adjust my transducer so my lure is in the cone. This allows you to watch baits and to react to any fish that might appear below it.
When ice fishing, you are allowed two lines, so on my still line I put on a 3/8-ounce blue jig tipped with a big salted shiner. On my other rod I had tied on an in-line swivel to prevent line twist, then a small cross-lock snap so I could change baits. I like to use something big and aggressive, such as a gold Hawger spoon with a rattle and a long single hook.
With bigger jigging spoons, if you use a single hook, your hooking percentage becomes a lot higher. A large number of walleye suspend on Lake Winnipeg as well, especially when they move out to the main basin during the middle of the winter. Fishing out of a portable shelter with a heater allows you to focus on your electronics, the key to catching suspended walleye.
STOCKED TROUT: This is my favourite time of year to fish for stocked trout. Many of the small lakes we have in this province are stocked on a regular basis and this provides some great action in all sections of Manitoba. Lakes in the Parkland regions -- such as Tokaruk and Patterson -- are really good.
The two lakes are just north of Oakburn. At this time of year, shallow water is the key. These lakes are full of minnows, which like to hide in the weeds.
Don't expect action right away when drilling holes in shallow water. The noise of the auger and activity on top of the ice will move fish out of the area. On my last trip to Tokaruk, it took 20 minutes for the fish to arrive, but when they did, all heck broke loose.
My first indication that something was below my hole was when my flasher lit up bright orange. Quietly getting off my pail, I peered down the series of four holes I had drilled side by side. Sure enough, there was an extremely large rainbow cruising the bottom, checking out my baits. On the end of one line, I had a Northlands Bro Bug jig rigged with a dead salted shiner minnow in the middle and on the other, a Northland Mud Bug tipped with a yellow power honey worm to which I had added a Berkley orange sparkle power egg. Lo and behold after a bump, the big rainbow engulfed the honey worm and the battle was on. Expect this kind of action at this time of year as the fish cruise the shallows all day looking for food.
ANGLERS NOTES: Walleye fishing has been good on Lake Dauphin near the mouth of the Ochre River as well as Stony Point. Twin Lakes has also been good for some nice tiger trout.