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.
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.
It seems like just yesterday everyone was getting ready for walleye opener. Now the leaves are changing and surface temperatures are dropping. It's official... summer is over and fall has begun.
Overall it was a great summer on Lac Seul. Lots of walleye, pike and some really great muskies hit the net. A few days were dedicated to jigging summertime lake trout on Big Vermilion Lake, which is always fun for a change.
Later in the summer the walleye fishing on Minnitaki Lake really heats up. Here's a beauty 'eye from Minnitaki. They have a hard time resisting Lindy X-Change jigs tipped with a lively minnow.
Here's another Minnitaki monster of the Essox variety. Check out this 41" pike my guest Steve caught last week!
I had a blast fishing with my buddies Dan, Kevin, Shannon and Paul on the Labour Day weekend. The boys made the trip here to celebrate Shannons 40th birthday.
Double-header lakers for Shannon and Dan.
Paul and I with a nice walleye. Paul was a fishing newbie when he arrived but an old pro by the time they left.
Kevin and a nice walleye.
And the icing on the cake... the birthday boy catches a muskie.
Also had a great time chasing muskie with my buddy Mike at the end of August. We had nice warm weather and found a bunch of muskie, and some big ones too, relating to shallow water and dying weeds. Here's a nice one that Mike got to go on a top-water.
Hunting season has also arrived here in NW Ontario. Black bear season is open so be sure to check out the article I wrote on building a bear bait in Ontario OUT OF DOORS here.
Stay tuned for a fall chalked full of muskie fishing on Lac Seul. I've got some great trips that I'm looking forward to and some really exciting news that you'll just have to wait to find out more about.
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!
That's A Wrap
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.
Fire on Ice!
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!
Warm weather, hot ice fishing!
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.