Saskatchewan Fishing Report (January 2011)

The good news for Saskatchewan ice anglers these days is steadily improving conditions.  While ice safety remains paramount, with anglers needing to be vigilant, several strong blows from the west have cleared a lot of the snow off the surface of area lakes, like Last Mountain, and allowed the frost to penetrate more deeply.As a result, the dangerously thin ice of only a few weeks ago has steadily thickened.  To the point, in fact, where anglers are now travelling on the ice by light trucks.You still need to treat current areas and large points, like Pelican Point, with caution, but as a general rule there is a solid base of 10 to 18 inches of ice across the entire lake surface.  Several main trails have also been established and access is good at all the major landings.(Jason Matity with a nice 27-inch Last Mountain Walleye)Buddy, Jeff Matity, who is one of the top pro anglers in Saskatchewan, tells me the first-ice-bite is still going strongly throughout the Qu'Appelle Lakes as well as areas further north in the province.All patterns of fishing, from site-fishing in the shallows for perch and pike to deep water jigging for walleye, perch and ciscoes, are in full swing.  Lure types from jigs and spoons to tip-ups and deadbaits are effective on these still-active fish.As a matter of fact, Jeff and his brother Jason, were recently ice fishing on Round Lake, the last lake in the Qu'Appelle River system and enjoyed a superb day icing big jumbo perch and eater-sized walleyes fishing in 40 feet of water.The Matity boys caught their fish using Bite Me Jigs' Tee-Tot Minnows and 1/4-ounce ReelBait Walleye Flasher jigs.  Salted minnow heads and fresh perch eyes were the baits of choice.While Jeff and I have fished together several times in the past, it wasn't until last summer that I had a chance to fish with Jason, when he was vacationing here on Lake of the Woods, Ontario, with his family.  I met up with him again in the fall when I was researching an upcoming walleye feature with Jeff, on Last Mountain Lake, for the May/June edition of Outdoor Canada Magazine.  Jason's a great guy, and a superb angler, but he is also one of those annoying anglers who seems to have a horseshoe stuck up his butt.  Every time we wind up fishing together, he smokes Jeff and me by landing the biggest fish.Speaking of Jason, keep an eye out for "REEL 'EM IN" which airs on CTV via Shaw Direct TV, Channel 315 and Bell Express Vu, Channel 235.   Jason has produced six, 3-minute fishing segments you can watch during the 12:00 noon and 6:00 PM CTV News editions every Thursday.The series showcases fishing techniques for all of the major fish species in Saskatchewan including walleye, perch, pike, ciscoe and burbot.  There is also some outstanding underwater footage you won't want to miss.Getting back to the great walleye fishing on Last Mountain Lake for a minute, Jeff and Jason tell me the normally strong morning and evening bites are extending throughout the day.Their traditional pattern of hitting the main-lake points and fishing in 22- to 40-feet of water is paying off big time, with most of the fish coming from 30 feet down.  The other day they caught and released 33 fish, with most of the walleyes ranging from 15- to 22-inches in length.  The biggest was a husky near double digit 'eye pushing 27-inches in length.  Besides the walleyes, the boys also iced several 13-inch plus jumbo perch.Just like on Round Lake, they relied on white and glow coloured Tee-Tot Minnows and ReelBait Walleye Flasher jigs to catch the fish.For more information about ice fishing on Last Mountain Lake, or for an opportunity to ice fish with Jeff Matity through G&S Marina Outfitters, contact owner/operator Robert Schulz at (306) 725-4977, by email at fish@gsmarina.com or check online at www.gsmarina.com.

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