Late Ice Report
I apologize for the lack of updates here lately. The truth is, I didn't do a lot of ice fishing this winter, and when I did I didn't take many pictures.
I did get out last week with my buddy (and fellow Moosehorn Lodge guide) Colin Gosse for a combo day of walleye and lake trout. Colin did the guiding and put us on solid action. Walleye limits by noon, then 14 lakers to cap off a great day on the ice.
One bait that I always have tied on a rod all winter that caught both walleye and lakers is the Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon. You can see it in the lake trout picture above, and that blue/silver is my favorite color.
I also had the pleasure of introducing my oldest son to ice fishing this winter. As expected, he loved the entire experience.
For anyone interested in ice out predictions, here's what going on around here... We had a huge melt last week and lost a lot of our snow. There is a lot less ice than usual for this time of year, too. I measured 18 inches of solid ice the other day. Although we are back in another cold snap, it's not cold enough to make ice, but it's currently not melting either. Once the ice starts to go it should go pretty fast. I have no doubt ice will be gone before May 1 this year.
It's shaping up to be a really busy season this year. If you're thinking about booking a trip get in touch with me ASAP as I have a limited number of days left in May-Aug. September -November muskie hunt dates are filling up too.
Rollin' The Ice
The 2014 ice season is well under way now and I've been slow to get a report and pictures up. Better late than never, eh!
It's been a cold and snowy winter here in NW Ontario so far. Conditions on the lake are great though, with a solid base of ice and plenty of snow on top for the snow machines. The slush is minimal, too, which is a major bonus.
Fishing has been pretty good so far with a steady pick of walleye and pike. Haven't had the chance to chase lakers and whitefish yet, but that should change soon.
Every year I catch big active walleye on Lindy Darters. This Lac Seul 'eye is a perfect example.
Last winter I did an article for Ontario OUT OF DOORS about catching big pike with gear and tactics normally used for walleye fishing. It never fails that some of the years biggest pike come while jigging for winter walleye in 30-feet of water. This big girl was a treat to pull through the hole the other day.
My buddy Joe traveled up from southern Ontario for a visit earlier in January. Of course we went fishing…. here's Joe with a nice walleye.
Back in December I had the chance to fish with longtime guide buddy Brandon Ouelette on the legendary Bay of Quinte in SE Ontario. Brandon operates Quinte Hard Water Specialists guide service, based in Belleville Ontario. Quinte is well regarded as the premiere destination for monster walleye. Every time you drop your jig down you've got a realistic shot at a 10 + pounder. These guys don't even bat an eyelash at 5-pounders.
True to form, Quinte produced a monster for Brandon's good buddy Justin. This is - by far - the biggest walleye I've ever laid eyes on. Anywhere. Ever.
14- pounds, 4-oz and 32-inches
If you're anywhere near southern Ontario this winter give Brandon a call and book a trip to chase one of these giants for yourself.
Ice Fishing Video
It's that time of year again… this is the third ice fishing video that I've put together. All the footage was shot last winter here in NW Ontario. If this doesn't get you pumped up to hit the ice, nothing will!
Check out this unit - the Humminbird ICE 597 HD - I'm more than a little excited to run this machine this winter. Graph mode, flasher mode and a fully functioning GPS. I can run the same map chip and waypoints from my Humminbird units in my boat. Very cool!
The weather this week couldn't be any more different from a year ago. Last march break we were in T-shirts on the ice while this year it's been 20 below. As I type this the snow continues to fall outside, adding to the foot we've already got in the last 24-hours.
It sure doesn't seem like spring is just around the corner. If it wasn't for the longer days, the fish would think it's still mid-winter.
Big fish continue to find their way onto the ice. With dedication, patience and effort come rewards.
My wife Kelly joined me recently, and of course she caught the big one. Kelly can jig walleye with the best of them, whether it's through the ice or in the boat. Check out this big, beautiful, dark walleye.
Another one that couldn't resist the Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon
My pursuit of big winter lake trout continues. For me, these fish are the best substitute for muskie fishing. The drag peeling, rod bending runs of a wintertime laker fill the adrenaline void created by the closed muskie season. In other words, they're the biggest bang for your buck on the ice.
I've been fortunate to catch some really nice lakers lately.
I also wanted to share a product that has made a huge improvement to my ice fishing program.
The Digger Auger Carrier by Digger Anchor makes carrying your auger so easy and convenient. It makes me so much more portable and efficient on the ice now that I don't have to load and unload my auger from the sleigh every time I move.
Even though we've still got a few weeks of ice fishing left here in Northwestern Ontario, spring really is just around the corner. Check out the current issue (April 2013) of Ontario OUT OF DOORS for an article I wrote about using strutter decoys as a part of your spring turkey hunting strategy.
Also, click HERE for an on-line article I did for Ontario OUT OF DOORS called 'The ABC's of Backtrolling'.
Before open water and turkey hunting, however, the year's best ice fishing is still to come. Stay tuned for one more ice report.
It's hard to believe that we're mid way through the winter season already. With February half over that means the warmer spring fishing in March is just around the corner.
Mid-winter means cold, and we've had our share of 40 below already. We also have a ton of snow. From the fishes perspective, it's a dark and cold world under the ice. They move pretty slow at this time of year so downsizing and slowing down presentations definitely helps.
We've been getting our share of nice walleye. Lindy jigging spoons like the Frostee and Rattlin' Flyer Spoon have been producing, and so has a jig and minnow.
Jigging Raps are always a staple through the ice.
Lake trout get a lot of my attention during the winter and I've landed some really nice ones.
Using a tip-up with deadbait on a quick strike has proven to be a big fish magnet. Along with the previous lake trout, this monster pike was caught on a quick strike rig by my good buddy Mike.
There is still a lot of ice fishing season left here in northwestern Ontario. I've got some dates available in March for ice trips so get in touch with me if you're interested in booking a trip.
'Tis The Season
'Tis the season for ice fishing!! With hunting season behind us, that means it's time for hardcore ice fishing action until spring. Winter is one of the seasons I look forward to the most. Big walleye, lake trout, pike and more are going to be hitting the ice this winter.
I got my snowmachine running in time for some early ice action. The maiden voyage was a trip to Lac Seul on a solid 8-10 inches of ice. It wasn't long before walleye started biting.
This nice walleye couldn't resist a Lindy Darter in 31 feet of water.
The Darter is one of my go-to baits for all species through the ice
My good buddy Colin was sitting a little deeper and landed a handful of walleye between 18- to- 23 inches, including this chunky fish.
It's shaping up to be another great year on the ice here in Northwestern Ontario.
In case you missed it, check out my new ice fishing video. This action packed highlight reel was put together with footage from last winter on the ice.
Some people can't wait for winter to be over.... I say bring on the snow and ice!
Video, Article and a Buck!
I'm really happy with how my 2013 Ice Fishing video turned out. I put it together using footage I shot last winter. It's pretty action packed and if this doesn't get you pumped up to hit the ice, nothing will! Check it out!
Remember my Ontario OUT OF DOORS cover shot with the muskie from this past fall?
For those of you who didn't get to read the article that I wrote, here's your chance. It's about fall muskie fishing on Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake and Lac Seul.
Just click the link below to view a .pdf version.
And last but not least, I filled my buck tag with a nice 6-point buck. It's not the biggest deer I've ever shot but it was - by far - the most adrenalin filled hunt I've been a part of.
I was walking through a clearing and as I neared the back, I jumped 2 bucks. They ran up a ridge at the back of the clearing and I quickly hit my doe bleat. One buck kept running but the other stopped on the ridge and looked back at me, and I took him at about 125 yards. It happened so fast, what a rush! I'd only been hunting for 10 minutes.
I got some awesome pictures thanks to my friend Suzie who is a great photographer.
Hunting deer, or anything for that matter, really reminds me of muskie fishing... the thrill of the chase, the rush you get, and memories that will last a lifetime. I'm already looking forward to next fall.
Currently, the ice is building on the lakes here in Northwestern Ontario and it won't be long until we're out in full force drilling holes and catching big fish. Stay tuned for some ice fishing reports because it's going to be another great winter on the lakes!
Good Friends, Good Fishing
One of the great things about living in NW Ontario is that friends like to come up for a visit and get out fishing. Winter is no exception, and this year I've had some awesome trips with friends of mine.
A couple weeks back Trent and his GF Jessica made the long trip from southern Ontario to Sioux Lookout for some ice fishing. We had a great time and the weather cooperated too. We put in some quality time on the ice and came up with some really nice fish for our efforts.
Jessica got us started with a really nice lake trout. Having grown up on Lake Simcoe, she's no stranger to pulling fish up through the ice.
In fact, she landed the biggest fish of the trip - check out this awesome pike!
Lucky for Trent and I she let us get a few that were worthy of the camera.
Trent lives on the Bay of Quinte in SE Ontario so he's used to pulling big walleye through the ice. He showed us how to get it done in NW Ontario with the big jigging spoon.
Trent's big lake trout was the first fish we caught on one of the days. Great way to start a day!
I used my home field advantage to land a few nice fish myself.
Next up, my friend Dave was driving out west from southern Ontario and made a pit-stop in Sioux Lookout for some hard water action. We landed some nice fish, but the highlight of the trip was this big pike Dave caught.
Dave really wanted to catch a big lake trout as well - so first I had to show him how it's done.
Then Dave got his lake trout too - his first one in 15 years.
It's a great feeling to be able to take friends out fishing and share memories that will last a lifetime.
In other news, the long range forecast is showing unseasonably warm weather here in NW Ontario. Looks like ice fishing season will be cut short this year. We've still got a couple weeks at least to fish so stay tuned for my late ice wrap-up report.
Looking ahead - spring means two things: ice-out lake trout fishing and turkey hunting.
Until next time, good fishing.
It's hard to believe, but we're already at the mid-way point of the 2012 ice fishing season. Normally mid-winter is the toughest bite of the ice season but we're still going strong with a lot of great days on the ice and big fish being caught. We've been having a relatively mild winter so maybe that has something to do with it. I wouldn't mind another deep-freeze though... we need to build more ice so we can fish into early April.
I'm going to start off this report on a bit of a sidetrack with some news and housekeeping from benbeattieoutdoors.com. First, you'll notice a new page on bbo.com - Videos. I really enjoy putting together videos of my adventures, so look for the Videos page to grow with content. In fact, I just made a new video of an exciting musky catch from 2 seasons ago while fishing with some good friends. Here it is!
Some other exciting news to share - I'm presenting a seminar on musky fishing at the Central Canada Outdoor Show in Thunder Bay. The show is at the Sports Dome and my talk is on Saturday Feb. 25th at 12pm. If you are in the area come on out to the show and lets talk muskies!
Alright, back to ice fishing. It's hard to beat the multi-species action we have at our doorstep here in northwestern Ontario. Who could argue with catching walleye, lake trout, whitefish and pike from the same hole?
Lake trout are my favourite fish to chase in the winter. They get big and fight hard, giving the best chance for some serious reel-peel on the ice. I have the same philosophy with lake trout that I have with muskie - target big fish! It often means catching less fish, but when you do get one it's well worth the effort. I'll start off with a few pictures of some really beautiful lakers.
Here's my buddy Mike with a beauty that hammered a jigging spoon and gave him an awesome fight.
This next fish crushed a Lindy Darter, 5-minutes after I dropped it down the hole.
Another philosophy from muskie fishing that I share with lake trout is the importance of catch-and-release. I let all my big lake trout go. There's nothing wrong with keeping a trout for the table, but I much prefer smaller fish for eating. Three-to-four pounders make great table fare.
Walleye fishing has also been excellent this winter with lots of action and some big fish in the mix as well. Here's a couple nice walleye from recent trips. Both fish hit a Lindy Rattlin' Flyer Spoon tipped with a minnow. That spoon has been my hottest bait this winter, catching every species under the ice.
While I don't often target pike during the winter until last ice, it's common to catch them while fishing for other species. Here's a trophy I landed while jigging for walleye.
One of the most underrated species we have here in northwestern Ontario is the whitefish. They are super fun to catch and when you land on a school of them the action can be non-stop. We do get incidental catches while chasing walleye and lake trout, but we also target whitefish too. Here's a few big hump-back monsters from recent trips. Notice the difference in colours between the first two that were caught on different lakes.
Believe it or not, but these big whitefish are smelt eating machines!
I also had the opportunity to fish at Brown's Clearwater West Lodge near Attikokan, Ontario with Ontario OUT OF DOORS travel editor, James Smedley. We had a great trip, exploring new water on Clearwater Lake, White Otter Lake and Grey Trout Lake. These waters are known for producing BIG lake trout, including the current ice fishing world record. James and I landed some really nice trout - no giants - but that's reason enough to go back again.
Here's a shot that James snapped of me with a nice Clearwater Lake trout.
James is an award winning photographer and outdoor writer from Wawa, Ontario. For more information check out his website www.jamessmedleyoutdoors.com
Here's James with a nice trout that he caught on the first day of our trip.
Another cool thing we got to check out on this trip was White Otter Castle. Hand crafted by Jimmy McQuat on White Otter Lake in the early 1900's, the Castle tells a story of one man's triumph and tragedy in the rugged Ontario wilderness. Read more about it here.
This is a picture of the Castle today, after restoration.
Coming up, there's still a lot more winter to enjoy here in northwestern Ontario. Believe it or not, the best ice fishing is yet to come! March offers the best action of the year and usually the nicest conditions too. Get in touch with me to book an ice fishing trip you'll never forget.
Until next time, good fishing.
The 2012 ice fishing season is off to an amazing start here in northwestern Ontario. Unlike our friends in more southerly areas, there is lots of ice and snow to play on up here. We’ve had some great days on the lakes with some really big fish caught already.
Walleye and Lake Trout get most of my attention during the winter but we get other great species like pike, whitefish, bass, specks and other trout as well.
One of the coolest fish I’ve seen hit the ice so far this winter is this Rainbow Trout that my buddy Greg caught.
The MNR stocked these fish a few years ago and needless to say, they’ve grown to an impressive size!
We’ve been getting good numbers and sizes of walleye from Lac Seul and Minnitaki Lake. The morning and evening primetimes have had noticeably better action than mid-day. We’re getting fish in classic wintertime spots like prominent points, humps and bottleneck areas in and around the main lake basins. Depths of 25-to-30 feet have been best. Hot baits are Lindy Darters, jigs/minnows, Jigging Rapalas and Rattlin’ Flyer Spoons.
Lake trout are one of my favourite fish and there’s no better time than during ice fishing season to catch big lakers. I have the same philosophy with lakers as I do with muskie – I’d rather catch fewer big fish than a bunch of small ones. Luckily a couple of my buddies feel the same way, so we set off on a hunt for big lakers last week. We landed multiple fish over 30-inches, including 4 over 35-inches. I'll let a few of the pictures do the rest of the talking!
This is my good buddy Mike with one of the biggest lakers I’ve ever seen hit the ice. A beautiful 38-incher.
Here’s Mike releasing another big lake trout. Congrats buddy!
Another nice lake trout for Greg.
Turns out Mike was on a big fish hunt… check out this FAT 41-inch pike!!
Rounding off the great multi species action from the past couple weeks are small mouth bass, splake and whitefish.
Big hump-back whitie that slurped down a Lindy Slick Jig.
In other news, be sure to check out the new Ontario OUT OF DOORS. I’ve got an article in there about a fly-in trip I went on back in September to Richter Lake, north of Nakina, Ontario.
Check out this video I made from the trip too.
Keep up-to-date with all my ice fishing reports by visiting the Lindy National Audio Fishing Reports page. Click on the National Audio Fishing Reports logo on the top of the Lindy page, then click on Ontario on the map, and then click my name/picture. An up-to-date audio report that I recorded will play, giving you the details on what's happening on the ice.
Be sure to check back soon for more ice fishing action here in NW Ontario.
Cheers and good fishing!
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.