Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Come visit us at the Boat Show!

Latest issue of Hooked Magazine is now out!
Visit our booth on the second floor for your copy.

Make sure you come to the 1st Annual Fish Fry Friday at the Mid-Canada Boat Show, Friday March 6th, presented by Hooked Magazine!

Friday March 6, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Loading Dock at the Mid-Canada Boat Show

Only $20.00 per ticket! Plus the first 75 people to pre-purchase online get free entry into the Boat Show! 

Includes, one drink, food (including pan-fried pickerel cheeks), and a chance to win some great prizes.

Pre-purchase your tickets here and pick them up Friday at the show. See you there!

A portion of the proceeds of this event will go to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.

Find more info on the boat show here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nestor Falls Crappies!

 Mike shows how it's done!
It was 1991 when I last visited Nestor Falls Ontario! Now that is a long stretch in anyone’s books but when I heard the crappies were back on the bite, I knew it was time to return. Friend Brent Kruger had lined up a two day trip with the owner of Sunset Cove Resort, Mike Gate. Mike and his wife Erin had purchased the resort three years ago, and have worked tirelessly to build up the business and update the resort and building. Located right on the shores of Sabaskong Bay, Mike has plowed a road down off his boat launch on the lake. He is out every day plowing the myriad of ice roads that lead to some of the best crappies fishing on Lake of the Woods. Back in 1991, the crappie fishing was tremendous, and Mike says the fishing has returned to that level.  Mike also rents out a number of heated ice shacks, making it real easy for anyone to enjoy the fishing, even if they don’t have the equipment required.

 On our first day there we explored large sections of the bay, first in two of his ice shacks, and then using our portables. While there was a fair bit of snow on the lake, Mike had a big blade on the front of his ¾ ton truck so access was not an issue. 
While the fishing was not hot and heavy, it was steady action and we had great fish fry that evening at Dave Walton’s, a friend of Mike’s who has made Nestor Falls his second home. I fished with Dave many years ago on Booster Lake before he sold his cabin there.  Dave said he was looking for something a little different and he and his wife Marnie love the new location. Brent and I really enjoyed our short time there and if you are interested in giving crappies a try visit Mike and Erin on their website at

They has also have a number of cabins open year round.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wow,some nice fish!

 The Magician is a happy camper!
It was still dark when we pulled out onto the frozen surface of Lake Winnipeg off the end of Warner Road off the west side. There were two vehicles in front of us lighting the way, the wet surface gleaming in the reflection of their headlights. I was out this day with The Fishin’ Magician as Brent Kruger likes to call himself. A long time guide out of Kenora, Ontario, Brent now resides in Winnipeg. Our plans were to head by snowmobile along the south shore of the big lake towards the mouth of the mighty Red River. There was one problem, and it was not a small one…massive pressure ridges that jutted out everywhere from the surface of this huge body of water. As we unloaded the machine onto the lake, we could see numerous vehicles heading east trying to find a way across these treacherous ridges. It didn’t help that extremely mild temperatures had widened the cracks with open water along these mounds of ice.
It was plus three Celsius as we wended our way along a ridge, trying to find some way across. Finally after about four kilometres of searching we found a ridge that was solid on both sides. Fifteen minutes later we were drilling holes, breathing a huge sigh of relief that we had made it unscathed. Well, we did tip the machine once, but who was counting! I drilled a number of holes over a decent area so we could cover a bit of ground, the auger still able to just make it through without an extension. Meantime behind us, out in deeper water a steady stream of vehicles and snow machines crawled out near our location. Still we pretty much had this location all to ourselves, a small ridge on a sandbar that varied in depth from 10 to 11 and half feet… a bit depth change in this lake that tends to be pretty flat.
Brent had the first two fish caught on a Rattlin Rapla, then five minutes later we had a double header. While Brent landed his fairly quickly, I knew I had on one of those sumos Lake Winnipeg is famous for. Head shaking and pounding down like only these massive fish can do, Brent scrambled to the side of my hole, ready to help. Finally the head of this beautiful fish poked up the hole. Out she came, dropping eggs as I held her up for some quick pictures. While we were fishing outside this day, we didn’t have to worry about freezing any eyes on these fish with a temperature of plus five Celsius.  That beauty was quickly put back down the hole, ready to lay a couple hundred thousand more eggs come spring.
 First fish of the day!
Now The Magician is a pretty competitive guy, and he didn’t like the fact that I had him beat on the size end of things. He worked hard all morning hoping to get a trophy of his own. After the bite ended at nine a.m., we got on the snow machine and started moving around, trying to re contact the school of fish we had been on early.  We would hop about 400 metres at a time, drilling four holes and watching our electronics for activity. If nothing showed up in fifteen minutes it was time to move on. This went on until about noon without one fish landed. We then decided to head back to our first locale to see if there was still some fish around. Sure enough, not ten minutes later while watching my Humminbird Ice 55 I saw a huge red mark below my lure. Now, I was using a perch coloured Lindy Darter fished about three feet off the bottom. This red mark on my flasher was so big, there was no gap now between the bottom and my bait…..truthfully one of the biggest marks I have ever seen on my flasher. Wham!!! This fish just slammed my bait, with line heading out in a steady pull. Man did this fish feel big, but unfortunately a short time later, she was gone. Man, talk about deflated!  Then fifteen minutes later Brent sees a small twitch on his jigging rod. Picking it up off the ice, the rod bends slightly. Seeing the weight on his jig, Brent slams the hook home. Now, we both knew this was a big fish, so he asked me to go find his Go Pro so he could record the moment. While I went to get it, he started to hyperventilate as the fish started up the hole, with me not back there yet. I started to laugh at him when I arrived back. You see, these were eight inch holes, and this walleye was so huge, it was stuck in the top of the hole with no room for movement. I have never seen a walleye fill a hole like that, so there was certainly no danger of losing this fish!

What a way to end the day…and the Magician was happy since his fish was bigger than mine, and the biggest walleye he has ever caught ice fishing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dealing with the Deep freeze!

A nice eater (Gene Collins photo)

Dealing with the Deep freeze!

Conditions at this time of year can be extremely tough to deal with when temperatures plummet to the -30 Celsius and below range. This year so far, anglers have been able to drive out on Lake Winnipeg with their vehicles. A lack of snow has allowed a pretty free range of access up until one hits an ice ridge. This is where it gets tricky. One angler on Saturday decided to test a soft spot with his foot. When it gave way he lost his balance and plunged into open water up to his armpits. He was able to quickly get out but if he was on his own on a snow machine, there could have been all kinds of complications. That is why you always carry ice picks around your neck, even in mid-winter. And don’t poke at soft ice with your feet!
For those wanting to travel a little farther afield, snowmobile becomes your best option. With a sleigh behind you can cover a lot of ice. Jason Hamilton, who guides on the lake, has a snowmobile plus a Ranger ATV with tracks that is enclosed. When looking after clients this allows mobility within a heated space.
Not a SnoBear but a pretty good option.
Hamilton wrote about how he attacks Lake Winnipeg in the latest edition of Hooked Magazine. Here is an excerpt on how to protect your equipment from the hard knocks that this kind of travel produces:

If it’s inconvenient to move frequently, you created an anchor. The best fishing is usually the last hole you drilled in a given day, since you put the puzzle together.

The auger, especially with an extension is the toughest item to find a home for, but try to keep it all in one piece and in the open. Mounts by Digger, Clam and Koplin offer options for ATV/UTVs and snowmobiles, as do custom fabricated wood and metal units. Ensure the power head is supported to prevent bending the bit.

As I see it the goal is to keep as much of your gear on the vehicle and protected by its suspension. Most icefishing electronics are designed to fit in 2.5 and 5 gallon buckets, which with some padding, make a great way to keep them from rolling around. Action Packers and ATV cargo boxes similarly lined are great options too.

Pulling sleighs and flip over shacks on Lake Winnipeg is a true test of their durability. They bounce, careen and occasionally catch some air on the drifts and ridges. Cheap blue sleeping pads can cushion gear and make a nice mat to keep your feet off the ice. I’ve found that a Big Buddy Heater (with bag) and 20 pound propane tank in a milk crate will wedge between the seats of most two man shacks.”
Check out Jasons blog at

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Recent success on the big lake has been a bit hit or miss. 
 Moving pays off big time with this Lake Winnipeg giant (Gene Collins Photo)
I had two sets of friends out this past Saturday. One group managed to get on a roving school of walleye while the other group never found any large numbers schooled together. That’s why Hamilton and others like him like to drill a bunch of holes until they start marking a lot of baitfish and those big walleye that follow them around!
 Jason and guests in the Ranger!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Great action on the big lake!

It has been a busy week on Lake Winnipeg as anglers take advantage of the warm weather. A couple different groups of friends were out this week, with both reporting excellent action for walleye. Jim Price found a way to get around the pressure ride on the west side near Warner Road to get out to deeper water and away from all the angling pressure. It paid off in spades with a number of nice walleye caught in 13 feet of water. This pattern was repeated yesterday with Gene Collins and friends headed out on snow machine. They landed 30 walleye, the largest 26 inches. Collins says the walleye were jammed full of one inch emerald shiners. Blade baits caught all the bigger fish.


Christmas came a bit early for me last week when I visited with Walter Saganski from Klass Tackle. Walter supplied me with his latest blade baits and given the success Gene Collins had with his….I can hardly wait to start getting into some big fish!
Check out his wild line of blade baits at

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ice reports are rolling in and most are positive!  For those wanting to fish big walleye on Lake Winnipeg, fish are being caught on the west side. Reports seem to indicate things a bit slower on the east side of the lake.
 Sun up on the big lake- Gene Collins Photo!
Ice anglers are driving on at Warner Road, which is just a half mile north of Chalet Beach Road. Conditions are smooth until you get out to the first ice ridge. There are a number of permanent ice shelters out there along the ridge. I was out on Sunday and we had okay success on numbers but no big fish were caught. A week earlier friend Jim Price had caught three master angler walleye.
Those fish didn’t seem to be around a week later. In the morning I caught all my fish except one up high in the water column. I was fishing next to the pressure ride and all the bait fish were high. These walleye would appear on my Humminbird 55 Ice Flasher at about 5 feet over 11 feet of water.  When I saw a little thicker red mark below them, I would reel up my small Rattlin Rapala to their level and give it a couple of subtle twitches. This seemed to do the trick earlier in the morning. When the activity level dropped off, I switched over to a small PK Spoon. Not using any bait, I would trigger bites the same way, just a subtle twitch just above their nose.
 Friend Gene Collins with some big green!

Just a note, from all reports, the action seems to be better in the afternoon. Friends Jim and Jan Collins managed to get over the ice ridge on snow machines a week ago and landed some nice fish, especially later in the day. They were using lipless crankbaits as well, including the Clackin Rap.

I have also been getting good reports from my friends from Carrot River about Tobin
 Boyd Holmen with Tobin Lake eye!
Lake. The walleye fishing has been real good on the big lake in 14 to 22 feet of water. Ice conditions are also good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


 STRYKR Jacket and a big Tobin Lake walleye!

For years I have been searching for raingear that would actually keep me dry. As editor of Hooked Magazine, I have to research new product that I can tell our readership about. I also like to test things out so when I checked the ICAST Awards for this year, I saw that a company I had never heard about won the award for the Best Technical Apparel: Stormr Fusion Bib
 Stormr has experienced exponential growth in the fishing markets over the past two years, owing to its comfort level, impenetrability and feature-rich design. While the original jackets and bibs have quickly found a devoted following among thousands of anglers, the company been inundated with requests for products which harness that same quality, but for use in warmer weather. In response to those requests, STORMR announced the introduction of the Fusion Series Rain-gear. Since I fish in a lot of cold weather conditions I also ordered the original, most weather resistant gear they have.
The STRYKR Jacket is designed to withstand the harshest weather and working environments. It utilizes abrasion-resistant material in high contact areas, along with a fleece lining and PU welded splash proof pockets. The wrists, waist and hood are all adjustable, and internal neoprene cuffs and the form-fitting design make this jacket provide maximum comfort without inhibiting mobility at all. A water-repellent exterior shell, 3M reflective graphics and nearly five pounds of positive buoyancy make this jacket the first choice in foul weather gear for all hard core outdoorsmen who don’t sit by the fire when the nastiest elements prevail.
I had an opportunity to see just how good this gear on my trip to Tobin Lake this fall. I wore it as a base layer under my floater jacket and it proved very comfortable. It kept the warmth in but there was no sweat build up. This product does breathe and with the fleece lining it is warm.
I must warn you though, it takes a little getting used to because of the Neoprene outside shell but this is what makes the product so good. While not inexpensive, this would make any hard core angler or hunter a great Christmas gift.
 Fusion rain gear jacket



STORMR® products use Neoprene Core Technology™ and Fusion VAPR Technology to adapt the benefits generations of divers and surfers have used to defy the elements to land-based and amphibious activities. If you hunt, fish in freshwater or salt, or participate in any outdoor activity that requires superior mobility in harsh environments, no other gear will allow you to remain as flexible in tough conditions as STORMR’s outerwear. Each element of this complete lineup of foul-weather gear provides maximum comfort and maneuverability, as well as huge thermal benefits in a thin, soft, flexible, windproof and waterproof shell. There’s nothing else like them on the market today.