Crappie luck, indeed!

Tough slog to ice-fishing spot was well worth the hassle


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Despite the extreme cold, there has been some spectacular ice fishing in this part of the world. With the technological advances in portable shelters, clothing and heaters, you can fish comfortably in almost any weather.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/01/2022 (321 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Despite the extreme cold, there has been some spectacular ice fishing in this part of the world. With the technological advances in portable shelters, clothing and heaters, you can fish comfortably in almost any weather.

Where it does get tricky is getting to where you want to go without the danger of getting stranded, or even worse, breaking through the ice. Every year vehicles go on down and this year is no exception. Lake Winnipeg claimed two vehicles and a Bombardier before Christmas according to the Lake Winnipeg Ice Time report. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

Kayla Jorgenson loves to fish the back-country lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park. She recently set out before first light to one of her favourite rainbow lakes on her quad with sleigh trailing behind.

Supplied Kayla Jorgenson shows off the crappie she caught recently in a back-country Whiteshell lake. At the time, she had no idea her catch set a new Manitoba length record.

Things did not go according to plan as the access trail had drifted in and her quad got stuck. It took an hour of shovelling and the use of a winch to get out of the drift. As she was by herself, she didn’t want to risk going any further. Kayla knew the other side of the trail was an open, swampy area and there would be no trees to attach her winch to if she did get stuck again.

Frustrated by missing the sunrise bite, she turned the quad around and headed to a different lake. After a quick ride, she pulled up to a spot where she had caught early-ice black crappies the year before.

Setting up a portable tent, Jorgenson hunkered down for the day. She fired up her electronics and lowered the Aqua Vu down to see if anything was around. For the first hour, pike and perch filled the screen, but around 10 a.m. she finally had a crappie on the screen. Twitching the small jig she had on the end of her line triggered the bite.

“I had the record on the Aqua Vu on, and I just figured the fish must have been close to the camera because it looked large on screen,” Jorgenson said. “When I got it up to the hole, it was squished in the eight-inch opening. Once I got it out, it was just a monster, and I was flapping my arms in excitement!”

Kayla quickly took some pictures and a measurement. On the bump board it measured 44.27 centimetres (17.43 inches).

At the time, she had no idea it set a new Manitoba length record for crappie. She only found out later from posting the picture on Instagram that it did! Her day turned right around from then on.

Jorgenson grew up seasonal camping at White Lake until becoming a cabin owner on the lake. Here she spent the summers fishing with her dad and grandpa. They both helped ignite her passion for the outdoors. She caught her first fish at four years of age while fishing Rainbow Falls. She continued fishing every chance she got throughout the years. She loves to take family and friends out fishing whenever she can, and especially enjoys the smiles on their faces when they catch fish.

“I mostly stick to fishing the Whiteshell, and I prefer ice fishing over open water,” Jorgenson said. “I love waking up in the cold, being able to load up and go by myself to wherever I want in the back country.”

Congratulations, Kayla, on the fish of a lifetime!

Anglers’ notes

As the crappie population expands in the province, more and more anglers are starting to target these tasty gamefish. Unfortunately, southern Manitoba is the northern limit to their range in North America. This means Kayla’s huge crappie is probably the same age as its length — 17 years of age. Crappies don’t get much older than that, so it is vitally important to release all crappies over 14 inches. Most anglers lower that down to 13 inches to make sure to keep populations healthy.

The lake trout bite has been good in northwestern Ontario with decent ice now on many of the back-country Canadian Shield lakes that hold good populations. Lake trout are a fun fish, and a five-pound laker is excellent table fare. Much like salmon, they have some small pin bones down the middle. I like to just score those out with a small cut down the middle. I then add Worcestershire sauce into that little trough, along with some brown sugar on top. You can add a little spice rub if you like then wrap them in foil. You can cook them on the barbecue or in the oven and slow cook them to perfection.

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