Typified by warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, ice fishing during the month of March in Manitoba is eagerly anticipated by thousands of hardwater anglers.
Many sport fish species can be readily targeted during the latter part of the ice season as they become more and more active leading into the spring melt. We spoke with a few anglers from around the province to get their current Manitoba ice fishing report and also what to look forward to in April.
Reed Lake - Wekusko Lake
Owner and guide Bryan Bogdan at Wekusko Falls Lodge shared that as of the last few weeks the snow cover is mostly gone, “It’s basically quad season now. Also, there is still plenty of ice so a 12” extension is a must for most of the lakes in the area.” Plenty of trophy fish have been getting caught in recent days with some huge northern pike in particular. “They are just starting to move into the bays and the lakers are starting to go shallow as well. Fishing has been hit or miss this March. Anglers have to be mobile and willing to drill a ton of holes.”
Going into April the fishing is looking very promising for walleye, pike, burbot, and lake trout in the region. Late-ice is always a prime window and with most of the snow cover gone Bryan anticipates the fish to be on the move to predictable areas.
Cedar Lake - Cross Bay
Cross Bay is a very popular late-season hotspot for walleye, burbot, and northern pike. Chris McCudden, owner of Moak Lodge, shared that many anglers have had incredible outings the last few weeks, “Everyone is catching fish. The water clarity is really good this year too so visibility for underwater cameras is excellent.” For those targeting pike, jigging lures or setting tip-up rigs have been equally productive with the bigger fish starting to congregate the mouths of rivers and bays in the area. “The walleye bite was slow in March but we expect it to pick up bigtime in the next few weeks. Tullibee have been biting very well at ‘the Wall’ spot.”
A good number of anglers head to this lake to target the trophy burbot that inhabit the waters. “The bots are biting very well right now but you just have to stay on top of them as they have been moving around," Chris shared, "The gigantic balls of bots are expected to start around the first week of April this year. The lake can be accessed with quads and even trucks so far as the snow cover is minimal after some warm weather.”
Lake Winnipeg - South Basin
The highly awaited March Madness has been very good for anglers searching for trophy greenback walleyes. The Southern Division general season is drawing to a close this weekend with the last day to fish Lake Winnipeg on Sunday March 31st but there still a few days left to get in on the action. Avid angler Garther Cheung has hit the ice hard several times this last week in search of Master Anglers, “If you want to hook into a giant walleye then now is the time to go. I’ve only, I feel bad for saying only, caught a 27-inch green as my biggest the last few trips but others out there have caught multiple over 28’s and even 30’s.”
Snow cover has been melting away steadily but there are still plenty of drifts and slush areas scattered all over the southern basin. “The truly huge number days are possible with most groups hitting the jackpot maybe one out of three days on the ice,” Garther shared, “but the big girls are everywhere this year and can hit your lure anytime anyplace.”