Lake Winnipeg is well-known as a place where ice fishing dreams come true. Anglers routinely ice world-class walleye throughout the hardwater season here every winter. Gimli Harbour on the lake’s west shore is a convenient place to access the lake and the immediate area is quickly becoming a popular south basin hot spot.
We went on a recent trip, staying at the beautiful Lakeview Gimli Resort adjacent to the harbour, in search of a few dream fish of our own. Joining me were HuntFishMB staffer Keevin Erickson along with avid Master Anglers Nolan Plew and Petro Hrynka.
Located an hour’s drive north of downtown Winnipeg, Gimli is a picturesque beach town in the heart of the Interlake Region. Operated by the Gimli Harbour Authority, the ‘Class A’ breakwall and marina in town is the largest of its kind between Thunder Bay and the west coast of British Columbia. A natural magnet for recreational angling throughout the year, it is especially attractive as an ice fishing hub of activity.
Maintained ice road onto Lake Winnipeg
Gimli does an incredible job maintaining an ice road network from the harbour that makes driving onto the lake very accessible. Well-groomed roads weave their way around a vibrant village of hard-sided ice shacks spread around the area. Amongst these are a handful of warm permanent shelters that can be rented for the day (inquire at the resort for more info). Wheeled vehicles of all sizes are welcome to explore the grid with anglers able to set-up fishing spots next to their vehicles just off the road.
The immediate area out front from the harbour has a variety of depths, drop-offs, and structure to target. Many of the lake’s famous migrating hordes of greenback of walleye frequent the area as it is on the edge of a natural route from the north waters to the southern toenail of the south basin. Also, unlike many other areas of the relatively shallow southern arm of Lake Winnipeg, Gimli Harbour has deep water (18 feet +) within a casting length of the breakwall.
Gimli Harbour hotspot
During our stay at Lakeview Gimli Resort, we focused all of our efforts at thoroughly fishing the harbour area. Studying the detailed contours of the Humminbird Chart Select map, we decided on a plan of attack. We were fully prepared to drill holes over various depths and move often to find active walleye, but Day 1 started and ended without ever having to leave spot number one. We caught a good number of aggressive greenbacks ranging from 16 to 24 inches in length. The spot was so good, come noon we simply left our pop-up shelters intact and went for lunch at the hotel’s Seagulls Restaurant with our spot within view out the window.
Snowstorm? Snow problem
We awoke the next morning to find a storm had blanketed the town with a thick layer of fresh snow. To our surprise, the snowplows were already out and about cleaning the ice roads before the sun was even peeking over the horizon. We decided it was a great time to watch the work being done from the warmth of the resort, and also gave us a chance to try out the delicious sounding breakfast specials.
We decided to explore some different spots on the grid starting first in the midst of some shacks in 11′ by the breakwall. With the milder temperatures, we were able to fish outside leapfrogging each other, eventually ending up at 20′ catching walleye here and there all the way out. We happened upon an incredible mid-day bite of feisty 17-19 inchers that couldn’t resist smashing our lipless crankbaits as well as deadstick jig/minnow offerings.
Biggest fish of the trip
On Day 3, the frigid cold was back so we decided to set-up camp near our stellar spot from the first day. Almost immediately we iced some smaller walleye and also perch. When we heard the tell-tale hollering next door, we knew someone had hooked into a good fish. Running over we witnessed Petro pull out a fat 26 inch greenback walleye through the hole with a rattle bait completely devoured in its toothy mouth.
Many of the fish on the trip we marked suspended halfway down the water column, which made sense as we regularly were seeing bait at those depths on our sonar. It was also interesting to note that any fish that showed up would either strike without hesitation with little coaxing or were only there to look and never end up biting. By far the most effective presentation for us was aggressively ripping a rattlebait several feet off bottom.
Stay here on your next Lake Winnipeg trip
The fantastic accommodations and amenities at the Lakeview Gimli Resort make it a great place to headquarter your Lake Winnipeg trip from. The highlight for Nolan and Petro was soaking in the hot tub at the end of each long day of ice fishing. Inquire about their Winter Room Rate ice fishing deal for a stay you won’t regret. It is only 24km north of the popular access point at Warner Road and, as we discovered for ourselves on this trip, the fishing within sight of the hotel can be just as phenomenal as any other place on the lake as well.
HuntFishMB – Eric Labaupa
For more information about booking a trip visit Lakeview Gimli Resort
For more information about ice fishing in Manitoba visit our Ice Fishing page.
*Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by Lakeview Gimli Resort, who did not review or approve this story.
*Protect Manitoba’s water and resources. Stop aquatic invasive species. For more information on how to do your part visit the Sustainable Development AIS page.