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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ice fishing season is in full swing up north!

 Jim Price fools a Lake Winnipeg fish on a spoon
At the start of every ice fishing season anglers are looking for information that will help them be more successful. The funny thing about all of this, is that in my years in the business, there are many things that have been tried and forgotten only to be reinvented. I can remember fishing for stocked trout on a small gravel pit with a light flutter spoon some 25 years ago.
 Here is that rainbow from the archives!
The slow flutter and drop of this light spoon was a great trigger for these aggressive rainbow trout. Tipped with just a small power egg for scent, these rainbows could not get enough. While this type of presentation doesn’t work at all times, it really comes into its own when fish are on the hunt over large areas, including sand bars and extensive mud flats. It can also be deadly along weed lines. The flash and drop of a light spoon will call fish in from a long distance and even if the fish that come to it don’t commit, they will stay in the area for a little bit. This allows you to catch them on something more subtle, like a stationary bait. That is the beauty of the two rod system allowed during the hard water season which has officially arrived.
 Ruby Eye Wiggler doesn't only catch pike!
This system is also especially effective on Lake Winnipeg. Walleye on the lake tend to be in shallow water early and late in the day, moving to deeper water during the middle daylight hours. Friend Jim Price has been using a light pike spoon for years on Lake Winnipeg with excellent results. You must remember that most of the time on the big lake in the south basin, you are fishing two to five metres of water. A heavy flutter spoon would sink to the bottom too fast, not allowing the fish as much time to track it down. Shape of the flutter spoon can also be a factor as can colour. Silver is always great on Lake Winnipeg and on clear water lakes with high protein forage like ciscoes and tullibees. More and more lure manufactures though are using glow and UV finishes. This can really shine in thick ice conditions or low light conditions early and late in the day.
Put some light flutter spoons in your tackle pack this year and you won’t be disappointed! By the way, they work for all species of fish including lake trout, rainbow, walleye and pike.

 "Bro" and Gussy tell it like it is at the St. Paul Show!
Ice fishing has experienced the biggest growth of any part of the sport fishing industry over the last ten years. I had an opportunity last week to experience just how much as I headed down to the St Paul Ice Fishing Show. That’s right, a fully dedicated show with hundreds of booths just for the ice angler. Given that here in Manitoba, we have some of the best ice fishing on the planet, we might do a little bit more to promote and service this incredible opportunity. I recently had an opportunity to talk to Jason Hamilton, who is a full time ice fishing guide on Lake Winnipeg.  A member of the CLAM Pro Staff team, this American company has been sending clients his way for years. He is one of a growing group of ambitious anglers that are exploring the opportunities year round. During the summer Jason manages Scott Lake Lodge in northern Saskatchewan. You can find out more about Jason Hamilton on his website at www.jasonhamiltonoutdoors.com

 Jason Hamilton having some fun!
Hamilton was one of the guest speakers at the St. Paul show, a testament to his knowledge about Lake Winnipeg and the growth of the ice fishing industry in this part of the world.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Angling heaven- late season green!

 Pete with a nice one!
When I saw the weather forecast for Thursday this week, I knew I had to get out to Traverse Bay for some greenback walleye. Word on the street had anglers heading up from as far away as South Dakota to get in on a late season bite. Friend Pete Hiebert and I arrived at the boat launch just after 8:30 in the morning and there were already a number of boats launched. As we had driven up that morning the wind was gusting from the northwest, the worst possible direction for Traverse Bay. Once on the river though, the wind had already diminished, the forecast were for light winds until evening. So away we went, arriving ten minutes later at the mouth of the river as it enters Lake Winnipeg. This was my first trip to Pine Falls and area this year but I have been fishing the system for close to 40 years. A friend of mine had indicated that the majority of the walleye were being caught in about 12-14 feet of water along the main river channel as it heads out in the bay. Slowly driving the boat out through the mouth we started to notice a marked difference in water clarity the further out in the bay we went. I told Pete we needed to head back to clearer water to check out if we could mark some fish. Sure enough has we headed a bit back south, we started to mark large schools of baitfish in 15 feet of water. There was only one other boat in this year area and while they were catching fish nonstop, they were all small, less than eighteen inches from what we could tell.  We had anchored about 400 yards from them on a little extended point on the side flat of the channel. In no time we started to catch fish after fish, the largest a chunky 28 incher
that Pete brought to the boat. I had caught two red zone fish early and that continued on for the next couple of hours. Pete also lost two really good fish, stubborn headshaking walleye that managed to shake the hook. We were both vertical jigging with nice salted shiners from Nate’s Baits.
It sure made a difference in our size of fish caught. We were using large to extra large salted shiners and these big fish were just hammering them.
 Now this is fun!

As is usually the case activity level changed during the day. By eleven o’clock we were still catching fish but I landed eight in a row using the rod holder. All the bites in this time frame were non existant. You knew you had a fish on when the rod tip didn’t come back up after as dip with the wave action. Around one o’clock that bite changed again and Pete started catching them on a bit heavier jig with an aggressive lift and drop. I don’t know about you but I love catching walleye this way and it turned out to be a great day on the water!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Huge goldeye caught in Saskatchewan River!

Manitoba has a new record goldeye!

 Jim Tarsiuk with his monster goldeye!

Jim Tarasiuk has been fishing with friend Terry Tooley on the Saskatchewan River for the last seven years. Terry held the Manitoba goldeye record for five years, from 2007 to 2012.  So, it was only fitting that the two were fishing together at the time when this fish was caught. Jim wasn’t sure what kind of fish he had on the line when he set the hook given the variety of species that exist in that stretch of river near The Pas. In fact, given the pull on the end of the line Jim figured it might be a big walleye. As he fought the fish in the current, it swung over to the back of the big Lund Alaskan near the motor. Tarasiuk was really worried he might lose the fish but when Terry saw the fish he yelled to his partner that it was “ a goldeye, a really big goldeye!” After getting the fish in the net, Terry carefully measured this monster and knew right away that is was the new Manitoba record, a quarter of an inch longer the previous record held by Robert Lake, caught on the same stretch of river.

Tooley says the key to catching those big fish is having your bait near the bottom. He likes to use a standup jig rigged with a small floater up the line. This floats the nightcrawler a short distance up off the bottom, allowing the fish a better chance to see the bait.
Terry Tooley is no stranger to catching master angler sized fish. In fact if you look him up on the website at  https://anglers.travelmanitoba.com/ you will find that he has caught an awful lot of big fish. He still has the Manitoba record brook trout out of Barbe Lake at 30 inches.

 Terry with a nice lake trout from Clearwater

Tooley also recently opened up a furniture store in The Pas plus he just started his own guide service called Mr. Tees.
He can be contacted at

Master Angler Program
Manitoba is home to the oldest master angler program in North America, 50 years and going strong. Last year alone, more than 10,000 trophy fish from 30 qualifying species were caught and recorded - and almost 90% of those were released!
Every qualifying Master Angler fish is honoured with a certificate recording the anglers success. A unique certificate is given to those anglers who catch-and-release a trophy fish.  
The Manitoba Master Angler Catch-and-Release release pin is given to those individuals who release their first qualifying fish.  Approximately 90% of the entries registered in the program are released by anglers, up from 65% in 1991, when the program first began tracking the percentage of fish released.  

From its modest beginning when the first badges and certificates were issued to 480 anglers catching trophy fish of seven different species, to today with 30 species and over 200,000 registered trophy fish, the Master Angler program provides an awards system that recognizes anglers’ abilities and achievements. From its inception the program was an instant success, and in 1986 the Master Angler program was computerized due to its continued popularity and growth.  Presently, over 10,000 entries are registered in the program each year, including entries to the Li’l Angler Program, introduced in 2002.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Jig Bite!

Jim and Dale with another Red Zone fish
Our captain had to head to Saskatoon for a wedding so we jumped in with Dale and Russ in the big 21 foot Ranger. Since there were four of us fishing today we decided to jig. With a water temperature at 46 Fahrenheit, the use of a jig at this of the year is always a great option. As it turned out, we had a tremendous day on the water with 16 Red Zone walleye caught. I have done a lot of jig fishing over the years and I have actually improved on this technique a lot with age.
Friend Jim Price is one of the best jig fisherman I have ever fished with and I have learned a ton from him on how to consistently out fish those around you. The most important part of the equation when you jig fish is to actually feel the jig and the motion you give to it. It might be a slow sweep and drop like Jim likes to use, or small quick hops or just a subtle lift and drop. Whatever the stroke, you have to feel the jig you are using at the end of your line. That’s because when something changes and you don’t feel that jig anymore then a fish has probably got it in its mouth. It’s then you set the hook and even if you miss the fish, chances are you will catch more than you miss.

 Pink and Blue Bite Me Jig in action
EQUIPMENT: When the bite is light like it was on this trip, I choose a medium light action 6 foot Series One rod from Berkley. I have had this particular rod for an awful long time and it’s extremely sensitive. It’s spooled with 8 pound Berkley Nanofil on which is tied a 5 foot tipped of 8 pound flurocarbon using an Albright  Knot. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of matching the equipment to the size of the lure that you were using. On the slow drift I could use a 1/4 ounce jig tipped with medium sized shiner minnow and feel the lure no problem. When Dale put the I Pilot Terrova on anchor mode we had to switch over to a 3/8 ounce because of current speed. That was a critical change so I could feel my jig. And in this case, the walleye were coming up from behind the jig and swimming ahead with it. There was essentially no bite, just a change of rhythm.  With Nanofil line, there is no memory or water retention so it’s great in cold weather and for ice fishing.
It’s also excellent on the hook set and with the Bite Me jig I was using, made by Wayne Tumack of Regina, very few fish were lost. I was using the walleye model in pink/blue and the hook on this was real solid. With a pinched down barb, I made sure to take my diamond hook sharpener to the point. While these jigs are hard to get a hold of, they are really good quality and the shape of this jig reduces drag in current. I had purchased some from Wayne himself years ago at the Last Mountain Walleye Tournament but only got them out of storage after Captain Boyd laid a licking on me and Jim on last year’s fall trip. I wasn't going to let that happen two years in row.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crankin Up the Heat

 Don and the Captain!
The sun broke out on day two of our trip and so did our spirits. Funny how a little sun can cheer things up and erase some of the disappointment of the day before.
Jim and I were in Boyd’s boat again as we headed back down to the river from Tobin Lake Resort where we were staying. A strong west wind made heading out to the big lake an impossibility.
 Jim taking a bit of a break
Given the success we had trolling yesterday (Jim!), we decided to put some time in today, fine tuning our baits and speed as well as depth. Both Jim and I had brought leadcore line along and I decided to switch to it from my Crystal Fireline. I wanted to get a smaller lure down to the fish and leadcore would enable me to do that. It’s one trend that both Jim and I have noticed over the last three years fishing at this time of year, that the smaller lures seem to be more effective overall.
 Flicker Shad on left and Flicker Minnow on the right
That was evident the previous day when Jim lost that monster of a fish at the end of the day on the #7 Flicker Shad, a fairly small lure that will dive down to about 21 feet on thin diameter Fireline. So I put on a #6 Flicker Minnow, the new bait from Berkley that has anglers raving. Since over the last few years, we have pretty good luck with pink jigs, I went for the Flicker Minnow that had a pink nose and chartreuse body. Boyd also found a lure that was catching fish, a perch coloured Live Target in a deep diver.
 Perch Live Target(stock photo-barbless on Tobin)
He had no trouble getting this lure to 21 feet on 100 feet of line. So we all had our baits down in the fish zone with three different profiles and all were catching fish. I ended the day with the largest walleye though, a beautiful fish that absolutely slammed my Flicker Minnow.

As in the previous day, we stayed until dark but the bite slowed down considerably later in the day.

One of the bonus features of the day was being able to witness an extremely rare event, the moon eclipsing the sun.  Check this photo out taken by friend Russ Heatherington.