It’s mid-December and that generally means all systems go ice fishing-wise in Manitoba. The Northern Region hardwater season gets underway first while the rest of the province freezes up not too long after. Anglers have already been hitting the ice at various lakes and rivers for over a month now with hundreds making their first excursions each day. We spoke with die-hard anglers from different regions in Manitoba to get up-to-date reports on the ice thickness and conditions on their home waters.
‘The north’ has had walkable ice since mid-November with smaller lakes in the region the first to freeze over every year. Snow cover on top has kept the ice on these bodies from developing overly thick up to this point however. Hard-core ice fishing guide Bryan Bogdan relayed to us that Wekusko Lake where he is based out of is at 20 inches. Nearby Reed Lake is at 18 inches as are other popular lake trout waters Clearwater and Athapapuskow but there are still areas on these lakes with much less ice.
Barry Ruiter out of Paint Lake Lodge near Thompson reports that there are plenty of ice anglers fishing out from his lodge as we speak. The ice is at 18-20 inches on most parts of the lake. Current areas only have 10 inches of ice though so be mindful when travelling on Paint Lake.
The east side of the province has been on fire for black crappies and stillwater trout during the early part of this young season. Avid angler Hayden Martin reports that most small lakes and the Caddy Lake chain have over 15 inches of ice now. Big northern pike hot spot Falcon Lake has 8-12 inches on most of the lake. West Hawk Lake, the deepest lake in Manitoba, has only 5-7 inches at most so be very cautious if you plan to fish there.
Big Windy has already produced some tank greenbacks the past few weeks. Well known Lake Winnipeg expert Lee Nolden shared his recent ice report with us. 15-16 inches of ice and growing on most areas accessed around the southern edge. Wheeled vehicles have been travelling on the lake but Lee warns that there are places that he will not venture just yet as it is not as thick. Please check ice conditions and thickness as you go. The ice has frozen over relatively smooth this year but there are large ice ridges that have developed at various spots.
The walleye action on our other great lake has been steady out of Delta at the south end and out of the east side beaches. HuntFishMB contributor Chris Chorney made a trek onto Lake Manitoba recently and reports that the ice is at or around 20 inches at most places within a mile out from shore.
Lake of the Prairies
Mike Twardoski shared a report on the ice conditions out of the Parkland Region reservoir at the western end of the province. Very little snow cover with anywhere from 12-18 inches of ice. Trucks are driving on but use caution as the lake has varying ice thicknesses. Angling ace Ryan Ginter caught this beauty prairie walleye the other day out here.
As always, please exercise extreme caution and utilize proper safety measures whenever venturing onto frozen bodies of water. Any ice reports should be taken as only general guidelines as nothing can replace checking the thickness and conditions for yourself as you venture on. These are recent physical observations by anglers but ice thickness can and often will vary on the same water and can also change day-to-day.
Related Article: Early Ice Fishing Safety Tips
For more information on ice fishing in Manitoba, visit our Ice Fishing page.