Winter always comes quick here in NW Ontario. It seems like yesterday I was cranking in muskies on Lac Seul, and now it's -20C and the lakes are frozen over. It's a welcomed change though. One thing I really love about NW Ontario is having 4 distinct seasons - each bringing with it exciting opportunities out of doors.
My frist ice fishing trip was November 26th, chasing brook trout. We fished on 4" of solid ice and 2 of us managed limits of 13-to-18 inch brookies. Such pretty fish... and delicious too!
There's a lot I'm looking forward to this winter on the ice. My number one favourite species to target is lake trout. There's nothing like watching a thick red band on your flasher as it closes in on your bait... the anticipation and the unmistakable thump of a solid hit followed by some serious reel-peel!! January 1st can't come soon enough. In the meantime, there's brook trout, splake, walleye and pike to keep us busy. The auger is gassed up and the snowmobile is ready to go.
Check out this video I made highlighting some of the amazing ice fishing we have here. All of the footage and photos were from last season and all within 30-minutes of Sioux Lookout.
If that doesn't get you pumped up to hit the ice, I don't know what will!!
Also be sure to check out the Novmeber/December issue of Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine. It's loaded with great content, including a feature article I wrote called 'Size Small' - A downsized approach for icing winter walleye. To view the article, download the .pdf here.
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 early ice action here in NW Ontario.
Cheers and good fishing!
All good things must come to an end, and that's the case with my hardwater season. I've had the best ice fishing season I can remember but it's time to pack away the short rods and the auger.
The last outing of the season was a great day on Minnitaki chasing walleye. The action wasn't as fast as the last trip out there but overall we landed bigger fish.
My friend Colin shows off a nice walleye that inhaled a Lindy Darter
Even this big Ling / Burbot / Eelpout fell for the darter!
Around late morning we decided to try a couple brand new spots that we'd been talking about all winter. The first was a bust (this time) but our friend Greg sniffed out a spot not far away that proved to be a winner. We had good action and many nice walleye over 21" came off that new spot.
My last 'iced' fish of the year - what a beauty!
Walleye remains open until April 15th and the ice will be safe for a while yet to chase trout after walleye closes. However, it's time for me to shift gears and tackle some other pursuits. Stay tuned for reports on ice-out lake trout, catfish and wild turkey hunting! Spring and softwater are just around the corner.
Fishing has been hot the last few days in Sioux Lookout! Great multi-species action and some big fish in the mix. Things are softening up with the sun and warm temps but the conditions are still excellent out on the lakes.
Went chasing trout and whitefish the other day and did pretty well. We found our fish in 40-60 FOW. I was expecting some action shallower ~ 20' but never found any. I also got some really neat underwater footage of my buddy Colin's lakers under the ice and coming up the hole. Keep an eye out for that video, and more, later on!
One of Colin's fat, smelt eating, trout. Small head, big body!
Also got into some crazy walleye action on Minnitaki! Big rewards for getting out of bed at 5am - we had hydrolic fishing for the first 2 hours of daylight! Once again the Lindy Darter dominated everything else, not even live bait could keep up. We fished from 24-32 feet of water on a nice gradual sand flat. It's a big funnel from the main lake basin towards a spawning river. Classic stuff and it didn't disappoint!
The great thing about Minnitaki is that you always have a chance at trout when you're walleye fishing in the winter. And wouldn't you know it... Colin and I drilled double header lakers - both on Darters! Both released after a photo.
A nice limit for the table
Surprise chunk smallie - they like Darters too!
Check back again soon, lots of ice fishing still to be had here in NW Ontario!!
Conditions continue to be great for late season ice fishing in Sioux Lookout and the bite has been hot. It's a certainty that we'll finish out the walleye season (April 15th) on the ice. Quite a contrast to 2010 when we were already finished on the big lakes by now.
A pattern we found this week was great action for walleye in deeper water(24-32'). It wasn't difficult to collect limits of under 18" fish. One morning I put on a clinic fishing a Lindy Darter. Hands down it out-fished live bait that day. When walleye want the darter they don't just hit it... they crush it!
The walleye season in Rice River closes on March 31st to protect spawning fish. We snuck in there on the last evening for a few hours and weren't disappointed. The best part was the average size of the walleye, with most fish in the 3-6lb range.
Jeff Schellenberg with a Rice River beauty.
I spent a few hours one afternoon doing some running-and-gunning for trout. The strategy paid off on the 3rd spot when I pretty much landed on top of this guy. Great tussle with a Minnitaki blackie!
What a beautiful day in Sunset Country. Felt great to feel the sun on my face and some fish on the line. Good action for 'eater' walleye so there's going to be a 'fish-house' happening in the kitchen shortly!
Conditions on Minnitaki were great. There's 30" of ice and enough snow on top to keep the snowmachines happy.
We caught fish from 23-33 feet-of-water off of sand flats and rocky points.
Minnitaki also has lake trout in it so I jigged a tube for a while and caught fish.... not lake trout - walleye! Four of them, one after the other. A first for me through the ice. The interesting thing was that these walleye absolutely chased, and hammered the tube. They wanted it bad. One even darted up from bottom to inhale the tube when it was on a downward free-fall. Fun stuff!
Ben Beattie is a fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Sioux Lookout, in northwestern Ontario.