This past February I embarked on another epic tour, this time to the Eastern Region of Manitoba. Home to endless lakes in the Whiteshell and Nopiming Provincial Parks as well as the western most section of Lake of the Woods, this part of the province has some of the best ice fishing around. Joining me was Ian Young of Shield Outfitters. The life-long Whiteshell resident and guide knows most of these waters well, and states that even so, he still has plenty of back country lakes left to explore and fish.
In the midst of an extreme cold spell, the plan on this trip was to drill holes in as many Eastern Region lakes that we could fit into two days. Admittedly not the best plan for icing a ton of fish, but there is something to be said about experiencing the picturesque landscape of the area as a result of blitzing from one unique fishery to another.
One of the largest lakes in the Whiteshell, Falcon Lake is a popular destination for ice anglers. While this lake is full of walleye, perch, bass, and whitefish, the main target species here in the winter is northern pike. Huge fish well surpassing the Master Angler benchmark of 41 inches are caught every year.
We spent a few hours first thing in the morning dropping medium sized herring on quick strike rigs at the well known west end weed line. Our spread of tip-ups ranged from 6 feet under the ice to a bit further out at 11 feet. Watching from the warmth of our truck, we jumped out to run after a set off flag. A very girthy mid-thirtyish pike came up through the hole after a spirited fight.
After a quick stop at the always friendly Falcon Trails Resort, we made our way down the trail by snow machine to the nearby yet isolated High Lake. This lake which straddles the Manitoba/Ontario border is home to big northerns and solid lake trout.
We set up our portable shack over the edge of a mid-lake reef targeting cruising lakers. Watching on the Aqua-Vu, we could see cisco, whitefish, and the odd lake trout swim by with nothing so much as a sniff of our lures. As is often the case with fishing, once our focus turned to conversation and eating, that’s when a trout decided to pounce on one of our gold spoons.
A small lake accessible only by sled or walk-in trail, this body of water lies a stone’s throw north of the east end of Falcon Lake. Stocked with rainbow trout and splake, there a few monsters swimming under the ice owing partly to its proximity to the nearby Whiteshell Hatchery.
We didn’t actually end up drilling any holes here, preferring instead to cruise around the scenic shoreline and inspect the remains of an old dock. Ian talked about ideas of developing a small shoreline path and placing a new dock at the Falcon Lake path access.
West Hawk Lake
Known as the deepest lake in the province, this crater lake is another popular ice fishing destination. The on-ice traffic here actually increases after the Southern Division general closure as it is an easily accessible place to target medium sized lake trout in April.
After a fantastic supper at the Keystone Resort restaurant, we made our way by truck onto West Hawk Lake via the main beach. After dark, the target quarry on West Hawk turns to burbot. We dropped glow jigs tipped with salted minnows right to the bottom in 50 feet of water. The burbot bite was steady with fish after fish taking the bait.
This very large bay is the western most section of Lake of the Woods and the only part of it that lies in Manitoba. Home to fat walleyes, tank perch, and gigantic northern pike, this area is an ice fishing hotspot especially during the month of March.
Turning down Provincial Rd 308 from the Trans-Canada Hwy, we drove two hours south from Falcon Lake to get to the fabulous Buffalo Point Resort. They offer great ‘stay and play’ ice fishing packages at their cabins including guided fishing out of their ice shacks. Located just before the Canada/U.S. border, we were actually able to see American ice shack villages in the distance from the fishing spot we drove to 10km onto the lake.
For more information on fishing for the species we targeted on this adventure, visit our What You’ll Catch page.