Whiteout!

Five o’clock in the morning couldn’t come soon enough this past weekend. Steven Wintemute, the editor of Hooked Magazine was on the way over to pick me up for a day of ice fishing for whitefish on Shoal Lake, Ontario. As usual Steven was right on time, a trait that I appreciate. Five minutes later we were headed to south Winnipeg to pick up friend Darrin Bohonis and then on the road The sun was burning down from a cloudless sky as we pulled up next to a large island. In this particular area, two other groups of ice anglers had arrived before us, so we headed to area between the two groups. Bohonis quickly drilled a hole to find a depth with Steven (www.hookedmagazine.ca ) right behind with the Humminbird Ice 55 to check depth. “We need forty five feet of water Darren!” stated Steven. Lo and behold as the depthfinder powered up, 46.5 registered on the digital readout. “Bingo!” yelled Steven and Darrin then proceeded to drill holes in a line to keep the same depth. After the third hole, something snapped in the power auger and it was done for the day. Fortunately we had one hole each, just enough to allow us to spread out to enjoy a spectacular day of ice fishing for a great sport fish. As is usually the case, Steven was fishing before the rest of us had finished drilling and setting up our gear, which meant, of course, that he had the first two whitefish on the ice before we even dropped a line!!!! On the second fish, his rod was bent right to the hole. “Oh, its huge guys, you got to see this fish!” he screamed. Naturally, we had to drop everything, grab our cameras and rush over to help with getting the fish landed. Out of the hole came a whitefish so fat, it filled the eight inch ice hole on the way up. As we started to snap photos of this monster, I noticed that my Canon 40D was telling me that I had no flash card inserted. Ouch! I had committed the cardinal mistake of not checking before I left on the trip. Not only that, I didn't have a backup card in my Pelican case, two rookie mistakes. Luckily all three of us had virtually the same cameras so we got lots of great shots on this day. After some photos, I ran over to my pail to get a measuring tape. It registered 26 inches in length with a whopping 15 ½ inch girth. Now that’s what I call a whitefish! As the sun rose in the sky, the fish continued to bite, some on the bottom, some just under the ice but most at around 36 feet on this particular day. Darrin ended up catching the most, with Steven right behind ( I disqualified his first two because we weren’t fishing yet.) I was a close third, not bad considering my flasher had pretty much packed it in at the start of the day. LURE SELECTION: Darren had his most success using a Berkley white power tube jig in the one inch size on a Northlands 1/8 ounce silver eyeball jig. (www.northlandtackle.com) Steven, meantime was using a more aggressive presentation, a Little Cleo green and silver ¼ ounce spoon fished plain. I caught my first eight fish on a 3/16 ounce Blue Fox Lil Foxee Jiggin Minnow(www.rapala.ca/products/bluefox/lfjm.php) in white and sliver tipped with a Berkley one inch white power grub. After that I caught a few more on small Berkley Realistix chartreuse minnow and jig. At the end of the day I scratched out two more fish on a ¼ Rattlin Snakie Jigging spoon tipped with a small Berkley Power Natural earthworm.(www.berkley-fishing.com) When I dropped this presentation down the first time, a whitefish streaked off the bottom fifteen feet to inhale the bait. This particular fish, though not the biggest of the day, gave me an incredible fight, peeling 10 pound test Berkley Crystal Fireline three times. Each of us that day was also using fluorocarbon lead of two feet with a small swivel to attach to the main line. You also want to use a medium action ice rod with a soft tip for the small baits that we are using. You need decent backbone on the rod though to get good hook sets in deeper water. Anglers Notes: We all forgot sunscreen on this particular day, not a great idea at this time of year. Luckily we each had top of the line, sunglasses. My Maui Jim dark blue pair saved my eyes from the intense refraction. To see some great photos from the trip, check out Darrin online at http://web.me.com/dbohonis/www.bohonisenterprisesinc.ca. Darrin is a tremendous photographer and can provide some incredible shots for a wide variety of use. Steven also has a blog from the trip at www.hookedmagazine.ca. Ontario does not allow non-residents to order their Outdoor Card online any more. You have to go to a dealer in Ontario to pick one up, a major inconvenience considering you are also only allowed to buy a one year license. In the past you could purchase your card for three years at a time. Not sure why any of this happened but it sure seems like they are going in the wrong direction.