ICE anglers in this part of the world have had a tough start to the season for the most part despite warm weather and pretty good ice conditions.
For those working the east side of Lake Winnipeg out of Balsam Harbor, the walleye fishing has been a lot slower to start than in previous seasons. I headed out a couple of weeks ago with six friends and only one of us caught more than one walleye.
Of course it was my regular fishing partner, Jim Price, who managed 12 walleye while the rest of us were struggling to catch even one.
Jim has a tried and true method of consistently catching fish on the big lake — something he is glad to share with everyone.
First of all, says Jim, you have to be mobile.
"Drill a series of holes and move around to different holes. If you mark fish on your electronics, stay longer than you would normally." He recommends trying to catch them two different ways.
First, use a still line with jig and minnow that has a flasher setup. Periodically go over and look at the flasher and jig. If you see a mark, move the jig to trigger a bite. Even if you don’t see a mark, give it a slow lift and drop."
The second method uses an aggressive rod.
Price doesn’t use a flasher on this rod. He just works the column with a longer rod and sweeps his jigging Rapala up slowly and then on a slow drop. He puts a full minnow on the bottom treble. Jim says if there is no action, move to another hole.
"It is also a good idea to start shallow at daylight and gradually move deeper as the day goes on," he says.
A lot of reports have fish being caught in 15 feet of water with fish suspended at five feet.
Water quality is good, so the walleye have no trouble seeing a bait. Small jigs and small jigging Rapalas have worked well. Tip them with a fresh salted shiner and you should catch some walleye.
I received this email recently from Doug Collicutt, a local biologist who is working on a Herps Atlas.
"Hi, Don. I would like to ask you a favour. I’m operating a project, the Manitoba Herps Atlas, that is collecting information on the location of Manitoba’s reptiles and amphibians. We began collecting location records in 2011.
"You can see how we’re doing at the website: http://www.naturenorth.com/Herps/Manitoba_ Herps_Atlas.html.
"The MHA is a citizen-science project that lets people enter records of herp locations and view the results online. It makes use of newly available, simple Internet technologies such as Google Fusion Tables to collect and present location data. "In its first year of operation, nearly 1,100 records have been submitted, including many for a number of species at risk in this province. The project is off to a good start, but needs to involve more people from the northern part of the province in data collection.
"Anglers often get into many of the more northerly and remote parts of Manitoba and most anglers, I believe, share interests in nature beyond just fish.
"And there is one species in particular that anglers could really help us with. The mudpuppy, a large aquatic salamander, is probably pretty common in southern Manitoba, but we just don’t have many formal records for this critter.
"Most of the anecdotal accounts of this species are from anglers catching them on baited hooks, especially while ice-fishing. We’d really like to hear about any mudpuppies that are being caught, and the MHA is set up to make it easy for folks to enter records for this and other species."