|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.