Lake Winnipeg ice fishing

There is something about big water that attracts me. Maybe it’s the challenge of trying to find fish over a large area. Certainly it’s common knowledge that large bodies of water like Lake of the Woods and Lake Winnipeg grow big fish, another part of the equation. Still when you are trying to find fish on these lakes, whether it’s in a boat or on a snowmobile when fishing these huge areas, mobility becomes key. Recently on Lake Winnipeg many anglers have been having a tough locating the fish in areas that they have been the last three years. The majority of the angling pressure has been from Matlock to the mouth of the Red River on the west side of the lake. Those anglers working this area are reporting some tough slugging while those who have been venturing up the east side finding considerable more success. Most have been accessing at Beaconia off of Highway 59. There are a couple of other access points, places to leave vehicles and venture out on snow machine. In talking to a couple Manitoba fisheries biologists that have been enjoying the great ice fishing for walleye the last couple of years, they say things have changed on the lake, with the 2001 year class of walleye still maintaining the incredible fishing. As these fish get older and both commercial and sport fishing pressure is maintained they both believe there will be a decline in the fishery to some degree in the next couple of years. With those 2001 walleye, they say there is a variation in sizes, all the way down from thirty two inches. Lake Winnipeg walleye are wonderful fish for a number of reasons. Foremost, when you do locate a school of fish you can usually get some to bite. When you do take some home they are wonderful to eat. And oh yes, they put a decent battle on light gear.
Many anglers are travelling light on the ice right now in order to stay mobile. A snowmobile with a sleigh behind loaded with a heater, portable tent and auger does the trick. The main rule of thumb when we go out is to fish and area for twenty minutes max and move if you aren’t marking fish. If you are marking some fish and they are not biting we might give them a little more time to see if we can find a presentation that will trigger some bites. Of course out on the big lake, both a compass and GPS are required in case of a malfunction in the GPS unit in the middle of snow squall or whiteout. On the big lake you should also travel with more than one machine or vehicle if at all possible. Right now the anglers who are having success have been fishing the thirteen foot mark with a variance in presentation. Some have been only catching on dead sticks (a lure fished stationary) while for some a combination of a jigging spoon, or rattlin rap style bait have produced some of those larger 2001 year class walleye.