Issue 04, Vol. 01 Fall 2008 | Tell a friend
|WELCOME FROM DAVE ABBOTT||LITTLE RIVER, BIG FUN|
|ICE FISHING BASICS||SUBMIT A STORY TO WIN - NOW WITH VIDEO|
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EMAIL DAVE ABBOTT
…and welcome to the fourth in a series of newsletters called “The Master Angler”. It’s your up-to-the-minute report on great fishing getaways, tournament news, special deals from fishing suppliers, plus real stories of the chase for Manitoba trophies, tips from the pro’s, and lots more.
I’m Dave Abbott, your Fishing Ambassador, and President of Angling Masters International Inc. (AMI) www.anglingmasters.com . When it comes to World Class trophy fishing for the whole family, Manitoba has no equal; that holds especially true for Manitoba’s abundant river waterways. Absolutely fantastic river Walleye fishing, in drive-to locales no less, annually yield numerous fish to 34 inches and beyond. And when it comes to family fun on the water, Ice Fishing is really hard to beat…again Manitoba is the place! In this issue of “The Master Angler” I share some tips for the beginner Ice Angler, plus my call for some great angling destinations on ice.
P.S. Check out the article and tips…then if there are questions you might have, email me at email@example.com. I’d be glad to help out! Manitoba is here for you to enjoy, come and catch the fun this fall!
Ice Fishing Basics
Tips for the beginner Ice Angler
Ever thought about trying a little ice fishing but didn’t know where to start? Well let me share some basics with you to set you in the right direction. Interestingly, ice fishing as a recreational activity has been growing dramatically over the last decade. Entry into fishing as a sport is an increasingly expensive proposition with the cost of boats and associated equipment soaring. Ice fishing can allow access to great fishing right through the car window and not break the bank.
Another attractive component of ice angling is the social nature of the sport. Unlike open water angling where you are limited to the number of people in a boat, frozen water means your group can include your extended family and friends out for the day. Add in a bonfire, hotdogs, and some marshmallows, and you have a family activity where fishing is just one component of the good times.
Start with picking up a couple of spinning reels (the least expensive Shimano is great for this) and a couple of light action ice fishing poles. These lighter action poles can handle walleyes while at the same time be flexible enough to show nibbles from my favorite ice quarry…panfish. I love catching crappie and perch through the ice. Lots of action and they taste great…and with your mobility greatly reduced in winter I like to target species that are greater in number and provide the type of steady action that keeps the kids into it as well.
Planning a winter excursion around rural festivals such as Beaver Days at Falcon Lake works great. There is a full slate of winter activities to enjoy in addition to angling. In that regard we took the “little ones” into Camp Lake to fish for Rainbow Trout last year and included a fun time at the festival as well. They caught fish and had great fun back at the Falcon festivities to boot.
Back to equipment for a minute… an ice sonar is a real help and there are a number of good units on the market. You don’t need one, but they really do help you catch. You can see the depth the fish are holding at and drop your bait right to them, or if there is nothing there you can move on down the line. If you don’t have one, it just underscores the need to research as to where the fish are biting. Call the local tackle store and ask where the bite is strong. When you arrive, join the crowd or look for signs of previous ice fishing activity and away you go.
Hand augurs would be the place to start, but remember that with each increment in blade circumference there is an exponential amount of “Armstrong horsepower” you will need to put out to drill your hole. I recommend a 6 “ augur if you just target pan fish. Up it to 8“ if you are chasing Lakers and Pike as well. If you are going to purchase a gas powered augur then make it 10” for sure.
Let’s talk about safety for a minute. Be sure to check with the local natural resource folks who will alert you to any trouble areas. Just because all the other lakes in the Whiteshell have angling activity, doesn’t mean you can skidoo across West Hawk, for example. Be sure and be safe…make the call to those who know the ice conditions. For rule of thumb it is said that 2” will support a person, 4” a skidoo. 6” a car, and 8 “ for a truck. For me, I want to double those figures before I’m on the ice.
I’ll share with you with a couple of fishing tips for some of the more popular species that will help you enjoy a good catch. Walleyes: two great spots that come to mind are Lake Winnipeg and even closer to Winnipeg – the Red River. Perch: hotspots vary from year to year but consistent areas include Lake Manitoba and a number of smaller shallower environments like Pelican Lake and the Angling Lakes of Duck Mountain. Perch fishing is very cyclical and a lake that was red hot last year can be less than stellar this year, so do your research.
Crappies are a great early season target (December) at Lake Minnewasta and Caddy Lake, with Pike really going strong in March throughout the Whiteshell. Lake Trout fishing doesn’t get underway until after January 1st but these fish are undoubtedly the most exciting winter catches. If you really get into it and want some phenomenal action, plan a trip up North to Snow Lake for Trout and Walleye. Wekusko Falls Lodge is a great destination there.
As far as lures go, whatever you target you can’t go wrong with a basic jig and minnow. Tube jigs and twister tails are popular right now with color preferences dependant upon location and species…so again, a couple of phone calls goes a long way to ensuring success. After a few outings in a favorite lake you will get a feel for other methods that locals are using with results.
For those that capture the vision of the sport a portable ice hut is pretty much standard equipment. There are numerous models on the market but most provide welcome relief from a cold mid winter’s day. Add a small heater into the mix and you are good to go. For those without a sonar, covering the windows of these little ice tents with a jacket or towel will allow you to see down the hole in clearer water lakes and watch the fish. This is a lot of fun, especially for kids.
So this winter think about adding ice fishing to your list of winter activities in Manitoba’s winter playground. You may be surprised at how much fun it can be, so round up some friends and family and give it a try. Maybe I’ll see you out there!
Little River, Big Fun
When it comes to Trophy fishing in Manitoba, I think it is safe to say that Walleye still holds down the top spot as our most sought after sport fish. If that is the case, then the "Fall Ball" on the Red and Winnipeg Rivers must be the most anticipated event of the open water angling season.
I recall with fondness the fall walleye run over the years, one can expect to catch numerous fish, with an excellent chance at a "master angler" walleye in a day boating in the prolific trophy rivers of Manitoba. Shore fishing at Lockport is in full swing, anglers shoulder to shoulder, minds riveted on an unseen jig bouncing its way to the next cast, interrupted only by the tap of a sauger, or the occasional nice walleye. What an addiction, I just could never get enough.
I caught double pneumonia one year fishing with a bad cold in driving rain during a miserable October front. I was the only mucker out that day, heck even the walleyes were subdued by the weather (another lesson I had yet to learn). As I left for Lockport, my wife called out that I was crazy to fish in cold driving rain, as sick as I was. She warned I would catch pneumonia, but after years of hearing such comments from my Mother, I gave similar heed to this one. Six rough weeks later I was feeling myself again and ready for Ice Fishing to begin.
Well here we go again. This year let me share a compelling alternative to the classic autumn fish fest of the Red and Winnipeg Rivers. I am talking about some of Manitoba’s smaller river environments like the Wanipigow, Dauphin and Whitemud Rivers…just to name a few. We know that smaller stained lakes warm faster than deep clear lakes (and cool faster too), but many anglers do not consider a similar pattern is also true for river environments. This means that the smaller rivers are usually the first that signal to the walleye that its time for the annual trip upstream.
This is good news for the anglers who are tapping their feet waiting for the show to begin on the big rivers, and some years it’s a long wait. On a river like the Whitemud this usually means an early September start. When combined with a family event like Sportsman’s Corner’s annual Whitemud Walleye Derby on the September Long Weekend, this makes for exciting times on the water. The other side of the coin to keep in mind is that an early start on the “run” leads to an earlier finish. By Thanksgiving things slow considerably, but that’s OK because the bigger rivers are usually just hitting their stride by then. This is a great extension of an already fun season.
Another bit of good news is that the angling itself is very simple. Stable weather…troll, heavy frontal conditions…vertical jig or drop shot rig. Hey, all trolling should be this easy. The small channel funnels you along and the presentation calls the walleyes in. Rig up a bottom bouncer with a relatively large spinner trailing a few feet behind with a worm gobbed on a hook (see photo), sit back; enjoy a soft drink and good conversation until a walleye interrupts your storytelling.
Use a bottom bouncer heavy enough to maintain contact with the bottom. This will be determined by your trolling speed, which is in turn is determined by fish activity. The larger spinner creates sufficient vibration in a clay based aquatic environment like the Whitemud allowing the fish to easily target your offering. (NB: a general rule is the clearer the water the smaller the spinner required). Now don’t expect a 33/34 incher in these smaller rivers, but many years one has a much better chance of scoring a 28 -30 inch walleye here during the fall run than on the Red, just because it is such a simpler process, with “location” issues solved in advance through research to determine the best stretch of river to work. Then just casually run up or down the stream at your leisure.
For frontal conditions it’s all about current breaks. Pay attention to washout holes on inside turns in the stream; they are natural food delivery systems. Both the descent into main channel holes and the ascent have “soft water” holding areas with potential, but so do minor drops in the river bed. Anchor up and dangle a jig on light line with a saltie or worm and let the fish have it for a second or two after the tap. Under these conditions the tap is often not a strike but rather the fish is simply flaring its gills to suck in the bait, so be patient. Pickerel rigs work great under severe frontal conditions as you do not feel the “nibble” until the walleye already has the bait in its mouth.
As fishing enthusiasts discover scientific angling one of the first things that go out the window is their red devils and pickerel rigs. Don’t throw them out! There are situations where the pickerel rig will out fish anything in your tackle box, this scenario as an example. Same goes for the Red Devil! You really can’t beat it for late summer giant Pike in the creek systems off Lake Winnipeg…but that is an article for another day.
Last September I spent a wonderful day on the Whitemud River with a good friend, Larry Parker owner of Sportsman’s Corner Campground (204) 274 -2015. The river was calm and fall was just putting on its colors. There is something very personal about the character of the Whitemud that draws you in, and with a beautiful campground located at the beginning of the trolling run, it's fisherman’s heaven. Larry’s buddy Keith Jaeger joined in on the fun and what a wonderful evening fishing it was. Keith landed a 30 inch personal best, and I was crowned “Butterhooks” losing a couple of real nice fish. One, as it approached the boat had me thinking it was my biggest of the year. Small river big river, some things never change.
It's My Moment - Your Story Could Win!
A chance to kayak with Beluga whales? Wow! Share your best Manitoba travel moment for a chance to win. Here's a recently submitted video moment from an enthusiastic Catfish Guide:
GREAT CAT FISHING!