March Madness in Manitoba: Your Guide to Epic Ice Fishing
In a province that’s known as an exceptional hard water playground, which offers a lengthy and productive ice fishing season, one might ask… why all the hype about March?
Hey, it’s a valid question, so here’s an attempt at answering the “why”.
Like first ice in December, March generously extends a more predictable alternative. Apart from its promising weather patterns, this favorable period unveils a significant change in feeding habits of a wide variety of sought after species. Longer periods of daylight and increasing levels of oxygen in various water columns contributes to a seasonal precedent that increases metabolisms and triggers an active bite.
Simply put, fish need to beef-up after a long winter to recover lost energy, and in many cases, to prepare for an upcoming spawn. Big fish, big numbers, predictable patterns, and flattering temperatures. This is “March Madness” in a nutshell and a pinnacle opportunity for any aspiring ice angler looking for that next epic bite.
Did someone say epic bite?
March, undoubtedly, is one of the most opportune times to experience the “unimaginable” of ice fishing. Better yet, this can be the best time to consistently target big fish or pursue a bucket list species that may have been ultra-elusive during the midwinter months. Whether it be northern pike, lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, perch, crappie or burbot, March can provide options and solutions for every need, comfort level, ability and angling objective.
Options for Epic Ice Fishing
Looking to experience “March Madness” in Manitoba?
With hundreds of miles of provincial highways and secondary roads leading to productive fisheries within every region, a hard water road trip is easy to plan in Manitoba. It could take a lifetime to experience all of our popular hard waters, so here’s a few signature ice fishing options to get you started.
Northern Pike & Lake Trout
The southern portion of our Northern Region is an open door to exceptional drive-to or sled-to ice fishing options for giant northern pike and lake trout. Lakes like Clearwater, Kississing, Second Cranberry, Athapapuskow and Reed for lakers or Cedar, Kississing, Reed and Wekusko for pike, are great examples of exceptional fisheries, all of which can produce an ice fishing dream trip on any given day.
Home to the “Greenback Walleye”, the Interlake Region is undoubtedly the most well-known ice fishing destination within Manitoba, with Lake Winnipeg and the Red River offering world class opportunities for massive greenback walleye. While the Red River presents easy drive-to opportunities, Lake Winnipeg, or commonly known as “Big Windy”, is an inland ocean that requires necessary equipment and transportation, thorough preparation and proper planning to enjoy safely and successfully. Success is usually met with the ability and means to follow active fish, but the rewards are often colossal.
Manitoba jumbos! Various regions throughout the province hold exceptional opportunities for giant perch. Oak Lake in the Western Region, Rock Lake in the Central Plains/Pembina Region, West and East Shoal in the Interlake Region, and Big Whiteshell in the Eastern Region, are a few examples of jumbo perch factories that offer drive-to or sled-to access.
Slab crappie is a popular ice fishing option in Manitoba’s Eastern Region. Home to various drive-to and sled-to lakes, the east offers phenomenal opportunities for hard water pie plates. Lakes like Caddy, Big Whiteshell, North Cross and Sailing are exceptional black crappie fisheries that can produce fish over 15 inches.
If the thought of hooking into a tiger, splake, Arctic char, rainbow, brown or brook trout fuel your hard water fire, the Parkland is an easy choice. Lakes like Snail, Twin, Laurie, West Blue, Black Beaver and Patterson offer ice anglers a drive-to or sled-to trout experience that will literally blow your mind. The Parkland offers big fish and big variety.
Like any other hard water destination, ice conditions and weather can change without notice. Please put safety first and, always check with local resources for current ice and weather conditions before travelling on lakes, rivers or snow trails.