ICE FISHING MAGIC IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO
Having been out on the ice nine of the past 13 days, either filming or preparing to film In-Fisherman Ice Guide television shows, I can tell you from first hand experience that the ice fishing action in Northwestern Ontario has shifted into high gear.
I can also tell you from first hand experience that it has been downright cold the last few days with morning temperatures dipping into the frigid - 30C range, with day time highs struggling to reach the -18C mark.
The cold and snow seem to have pushed the fish past the peak, fast, first ice bite and it now looks like we're starting to slide toward the February doldrums. But we're not there yet.
Last week, In-Fisherman Editor-in-Chief, Doug Stange and I shot a fantastic backwoods lake trout adventure. We snowmachined way back into the wilderness one snowy day and caught a bunch of beautiful lake trout. In fact, we landed five lakers at the very first spot that we stopped and I was lucky enough to catch and release a beautiful mid-teen-pound fish to end the show. But it was so beautiful snowmachining across the lakes and over the portages in the moonlight as we were heading back to the trucks.
We also stopped at noon and filmed Doug cooking his famous lake trout shorelunch. He uses Mexican chorizo sausage, canned diced tomatoes and lake trout chunks and you can't believe how good it tastes cooked over a open wood fire.
By the way, I'll pop Doug's recipe up on the blog shortly so you can try it.
Speaking about lake trout how many folks know that the current National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame (Ice Fishing) lake trout- a 40-pound goliath - was caught in Clearwater West Lake in the Atikokan area of Northwestern Ontario.
Buddy Barry Brown runs Browns' Clearwater West Lodge and he and his guests ice fish all the famous lakes in the area, including Clearwater West Lake itself and White Otter Lake. Barry's "trapline" of fantastic trout waters border Ontario's world famous Quetico Provincial Park. (He even has permanent ice huts set up on some of the better spots for his guests to use.)
Barry tells me that the snowmachine trails are in to all the lakes he fishes and the running conditions this year, thanks to the deep snow and thick ice, are perfect. Indeed, you couldn't get it any better.
In addition to the great trout action, Barry's folks are enjoying super catches of splake, brook trout and walleye. Somewhat surprisingly, the morning walleye bite has been better than the traditional afternoon bite. I've been seeing the same thing! Barry's two top lures have been a 3/8-ounce Northland 'whistler' jig tipped with a minnow and a dressed Panther Martin.
By the way, if you want to get into this hot winter action - and trust me you do - check out Barry and Carolle's website at www.brownsclearwaterlodge.com and then give them a call.
A couple of hundred miles north of Barry's operation lies another fishing paradise - Lac Seul. Colin Gosse is one of the hottest sticks and top guides in the area, and Colin tells me that ice conditions, after all the early snow, are finally ideal.
Colin's been catching the dickens out of splake in Boot lake using spoons and jigs tipped with minnows.
On Lac Seul itself, he has been walloping 16- and 17-inch walleyes - perfect for the pan - and releasing scores of 21-inch plus 'eyes. Interestingly, dead sticking has been just that - dead - with all the action coming on Jigging Rapalas and Lindy Darters.
While walleyes and muskies get all the attention around Lac Seul, the lake trout fishing