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.”
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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!