With warm temperatures in the forecast this past week-end, there was no doubt that I’d be drilling ice somewhere.
A buddy from work and I decided to stay close to home and the allure of the Lake Winnipeg greenback walleye was too much to resist. Last season was my first experience on Lake Winnipeg and the memories of those brilliant walleyes are very fresh.
We fished the East side of the lake Thursday to Saturday and found the fishing overall to be somewhat challenging.
Thursday, we accessed the lake at Balsam Bay where we parked the truck on the ice and travelled via snowmobile. Several anglers were using trucks on the ice with no problem, we just opted to travel by snowmobile for ease of mobility. There was just enough snow cover to lubricate the sliders with lots of bare ice patches; I’d be installing ice scratchers if I were to fish that area again by snowmobile.
I didn’t measure the ice, but one more cold snap and an extension for the auger will become a necessity as my knuckles were nearly touching the ice on a few holes drilled.
We employed a run and gun strategy on Thursday, however only marked a handful of fish and only had success when we stayed put later in the evening.
We had a larger group of anglers on Friday and decided to move further to the North to Belair, which proved to be a good decision. Several more fish appeared on the Vexilar and as the day wore on, the bite improved and several fish came topside courtesy of lipless rattle baits.
I tried running around the basin drilling holes, but my efforts only produced one bite, so I returned to the group where we decided to set up the Clam Outdoors X400 and settle in for the evening bite. I joked with the group that a building permit may be required to set up this behemoth of a shelter which garnered a few laughs.
The highlight of the day for me came at 3:30 in the afternoon when my buddy hooked into a nice 18-incher. As he was fighting the fish, a large mark appeared on the Vexilar 2 feet off bottom. I reeled about a foot above the fish and gave the rattle bait one aggressive rip and it was game on. When the head of the fish came through the hole, I hollered for my buddy to get the camera as I was sure it was a 10 pounder. The fish turned out to be a thick 26-inch greenback and was released after a couple quick photos.
Saturday, I returned to the same area as Friday with my family in hopes of taking advantage of the hot afternoon bite experienced the previous day.
As goes with basin fishing, the fish can be there one day and gone the next which was the case for us. Very few fish were marked, but my 7-year-old son Aidan had the hot hand. Most kids are all about catching the most and the biggest and Aidan got to check both those boxes.
Aidan caught all his fish on a ¼ OZ Northland Fishing RZ jig in shrimp color. As much as I like catching fish myself, there’s nothing sweeter than hearing my son holler “dad, I’ve got one!!”
The night was capped off with a prime rib buffet at South Beach Casino, which is something everyone should try if ever in the area on a Friday or Saturday night; delicious.
All in all, it was a fantastic 3 days making memories and I’m counting the hours until I get to do it all over again.