February 2018

We returned to Canada for our annual ice fishing trip on the 19th January. On our first day of fishing it was only -6c with just a light breeze. We were due to fish at Maria Creek. This was our first trip there as for the past 5 years the road to the creek was impassable because of very deep snow drifts.

The ice was about 4ft thick but with deep cracks. Normally they are covered by snow so you are unaware of the dangers that lurk beneath your wheels.

Always check the thickness of the ice

A crack in the ice road

We drove onto the river at Breezy Point and set off for the 30 minute drive to Maria. Unfortunately all of the turnings on such a large, frozen river look the same and we missed the turn off to Maria Creek. We turned around and after about 45 minutes arrived just as the sun rose. You can see beautiful sights like this sun dog or parhelion (an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to the left and/or right of the Sun within a 22° halo).

The fishing at Maria was good, we landed 7 pike with one weighing over 20lbs (see End Results page). Before we left England we had purchased a Petch trough, a long rectangular protective bag, specially designed for unhooking pike. Designed by Ian Petch they are made by Cotswold Aquarius in England. This turned out to be a superb decision as it insulates the pike from the ice and wind especially in temperatures ranging from -7c down to -40c. We heartily recommend them to other anglers who, like us, practise catch and release fishing (see End Results page).

Our trip to George Lake in the Whiteshell, however, was a disaster. We took a quad bike and a snowmobile with us as we have to travel across tundra to reach the lake. Sadly as we arrived the temperatures plummeted to -40c and the quad refused to start! We will try again next year.

We caught a total of 23 pike during the trip with the best day's fishing being at Maria Creek. The ice this year was very thick, 3-4 ft, and we were told that this was one of Manitoba's coldest winters for a number of years. Taking this into consideration we were very pleased with our catch numbers and are now already planning next year's trip.

Hydro plant on the Winnipeg River

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January 2017

After last year's trip in February with temperatures warmer than normal we decided to revert back to January for this year's trip. We arrived on the 6th to find plenty of ice and snow and temps between -22c and -30c, so it all looked promising for some good ice-fishing.

The plan soon fell apart as one of our suitcases had never left London, one that contained our winter clothing and some of our tackle. So our planned first weekend was put on hold as we had to wait for delivery of our suitcase from Air Canada. All was not lost, however, as on the Sunday there was a fishing 'Derby' (match) held at the float plane base in Selkirk. The Kid Fish event was a charity derby for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.

Two of our fishing friends were taking part so we went along to make a donation and support the event. Over 1200 people took part and over $39,000 was raised. A great was enjoyed by all, even by those who weren't fishing. Well done to all of the organisers!

Eventually our suitcase arrived and our fishing got under way. The first few days were very cold, with lots of hits and a few fish landed although nothing huge. The largest being about 14lb. The large falls of snow also stopped us from driving the truck to our favourite hot spots, so we had to pull two sledges with all of our gear, carp anglers please note that this is the true meaning of 'pulling on and off'.

As the trip moved on the temperatures began to rise causing the snow to start melting. This allowed us to drive further onto the the river and reach our favourite spots. A first for us this trip was a day on Lake Winnipeg. This lake is the 12th largest in the world, it covers an area of 9.450 sq miles, so rather on the large size. We had a bash at fishing for Walleye and not being experts, two of our friends came along with us. Thick fog, melting snow and lots of surface water made driving on the lake very interesting, it was like something out of Ice-Road Truckers. Jigging was the preferred method for the walleye (dropshotting is nothing new). An interesting day was had with our Canadian friends thrashing us 20 to 3!

On driving off of the lake we saw what are known as 'Ice Ridges', which are caused by the pressure of the water when it freezes, an incredible site to see.

To sum up this year's trip, no large pike were caught but we had lots of smaller fish up to about 14lbs. All were in tiptop condition and all were previously uncaught. It sounds daft but the colder it was the more runs we got. Every year so far has been different and we have had to learn to adapt to all sorts of different situations but this provides us with the experience for the future. Just one more thing to mention, at the beginning of the trip the wind chill on one day reached -51c, the coldest we have experienced.


February 2016

This year we returned in February, not January. It turned out not to be a good idea as the weather was mild in Manitoba. We had temperatures as high as +2 Celsius and as low as -39 with the wind chill. Good on our fingers but not good for the fishing.

We had just 10 pike with no big doubles, the largest was around 12-13 lbs. Last year, the colder the weather the better the fishing, this years was just too warm and too variable. It was not just the pike but all species were hard to catch. We think that the fish may have been spawning early. Next year we will try January again.

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January 2015

This was our 9th ice fishing trip to Canada and the weather this year was an improvement on last year's trip when Canada experienced its worst weather for 20 years. Temperatures this year ranged from 0c to -27c, although the wind chill on some days made it feel like -39c. Frost bite is likely during these conditions so great care has to be taken, unhooking and photographing fish has to be done very quickly and out of the wind.

George Lake was visited again but this time we travelled on quad bikes, not the best thing for your back when driving across the tundra. Strong winds and heavy snow en route made for an interesting trip but in the end it was well worth it with 5 lake trout to 7lbs being caught.

Driving on the river was a lot easier this trip as not much snow had fallen prior to our arrival. A first for us was our visit to Wavey Creek where the ice was crystal clear. You could see all of the cracks and how deep the ice was. The colour was black which means that it is strong ice and safe to be on. Care must be taken when driving. Speed is critical because if you go too fast the pressure of the water moving underneath can cause the cracks to open!

All in all it was a good trip, reasonable conditions and a total of 21 pike and 5 trout were caught. The biggest pike weighed just over 23 lbs.

Next year we are planning to return in February.

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January 2014

We returned to Canada for our annual ice fishing trip. This year the weather was extremely bad, temperatures fell as low as -52c on the Friday before we arrived. On one of the days that we fished the Red River the temperature was -28 but with the wind chill it was -41c. There was a very high risk of frost bite if we weren't careful.

The snow was also severe this year, it was too deep for us to drive onto the frozen rivers and lakes as we generally do. We landed a number of fish, with the best one over 20lbs, all fish were returned alive and well. On one day we drove snowmobiles to get to our destination but on most days we walked to our swims, pulling our gear along on sledges.

One day whilst sitting in the middle of the river in our pop-up shelters, the wind got up to 70kph. We just had to sit it out as the white-out conditions were so bad that there was a good chance of getting lost trying to find our trucks which were only a 10 minutes walk away.

By the end of our holiday we had caught fourteen pike, three in the high 20s plus 2 lake trout.

We hope to return in 2015

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