Ice ice baby

Submitted David Obirek, The Fishing Journal

Sarah Fortier of Winnipeg shows off a chunky 29 inch walleye caught on the Red River near Netley Creek in mid-December. (Photo Submitted)

Sarah Fortier of Winnipeg shows off a chunky 29 inch walleye caught on the Red River near Netley Creek in mid-December. (Photo Submitted)

Happy New Year to all. I’d like to wish everyone a year filled with health, happiness and many exciting fishing memories. With six editions of The Fishing Journal under my belt, I hope you’ve enjoyed taking in this monthly feature in The Selkirk Journal.

A New Year resolution is a great starting point for anything but has traditionally been devoted to changes in health and fitness. As great as that is, so is setting your fishing goals for the upcoming year. Whether it be saving up for a new boat or upgrading an old boat, trying ice fishing for the first time or entering the world of tournament fishing, there is no better time than now to get the planning process started. Like most planning, researching the Internet is a great starting point for fulfilling these goals. There are countless sites on-line that can help you get started with setting your 2017 resolutions regardless of how big or small they may be. If you’re a social media person, several platforms such as Facebook can get you connected through various group fishing sites. If social media isn’t for you, stopping in at tackle shops, marine dealers, reading fishing publications and picking the brains of other anglers would also prove beneficial.

The long awaited ice season has finally arrived and is in full swing. As I was preparing for December’s column in late November, it didn’t appear that hard water would ever arrive. The extended warm fall weather allowed anglers especially the hard-core ones to stay on the water much longer into November compared to most years. However those who were ready for the ice were becoming increasingly impatient. Like every start to the winter ice season, social media was buzzing with countless discussions by anglers anxious to get out onto the ice.

If you’re like me, I will never be the first on the ice. I would rather take the extra time and wait things out until I feel comfortable with the developing ice conditions.
Early December ice, however can also be one of the best walleye bites especially on the Red River. By mid-December, ice thickness in most of the common fishing areas on the Red River were reported to be anywhere from eight to 12 inches.  As the month progressed, ice thickness was reaching 18” in some areas. There has also been no shortage of fish caught with good quantities of eater sized walleye(15” to 20”) landed. With some monster walleye added to the mix that pushed measurements of 28 inches and beyond have left an early ice experience without disappointment!

Anglers have also slowly started making their way onto Lake Winnipeg to test the bite and more importantly ice thickness. A reminder to be cautious on the lake as large areas of open water on the west side near Winnipeg Beach and Matlock were reported a few weeks back. Some good numbers of walleye in the Balsam Bay area have been caught with ice thickness reports being in the 18” range.

Coming up Jan. 8 is the ‘Kidfish” Ice Fishing Derby taking place just north of Selkirk on the Red River across from Selkirk Air (Float Plane base) on Breezy Point Road. This one-day event is in support of The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba and CancerCare Manitoba. This is just another example of a great event being held right here in our community by the kind hearts of the angling community.

Follow KidFish on Facebook @MBKFFAC. Tickets are available locally at Smoke n Fish and Sportsmans Stop Esso on Highway 44. The re-scheduled date if ice is not deemed safe enough will be Jan. 22.

Thanks for reading and remember, keep fishing.
David Obirek is a local fishing enthusiast, tournament angler and member of the Central Walleye Trail (CWT). You can follow David on twitter(@walleye_dave), Facebook
(@thefishingjournalselkirk) and Instagram(@thefishingjournal)

Tip of the Month

Keeping warm on the ice this winter is a must for your comfort, but doing so in a safe manner is the key. Both permanent and portable ice shelters rely on heat sources most commonly powered by propane for warmth during those cold winter days. Proper ventilation in your shelter is important to ensure oxygen levels won’t be depleted leaving you in harm’s way. Many heater manufacturers, such as Mr.Heater, have features built in their units to ensure your safety that include automatic low level oxygen shut-off and an accidental tip-over safety shut-off.  Using quality and safe heating products will help make for an enjoyable ice fishing experience.  

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