Fish the Conditions This Winter

Gord Pyzer explains why this year you should be looking at the weather report, not the calendar to pick your mid-winter fishing spots!

Provided By: Gord Pyzer on


Bizarre or what?  


It is the only thing you can say about the weather and ice fishing conditions across North America this winter.

While the east coast has been brought to a standstill, pummelled by a massive winter storm that has dumped more snow than ever before recorded, we've generally been basking in much warmer than normal temperatures across Northern Ontario.  Conditions that have delayed by a month or more the formation of good ice.

As a matter of fact, just the other day I hosted Winnipeg-based buddy and Cabela's Pro Staffer, Cameron Tait, and good friend, Jeff Simpson from the In-Fisherman Television Show on a backcountry snowmachine adventure into the stunningly scenic Northwestern Ontario wilderness where we ice fished much of the time without wearing mittens or gloves.

The lake trout action was so spectacular - we caught and released several dozen fish - that I took my daughter, Jennifer, and grandson, Liam back to the same locations on Sunday for a much hoped-for encore performance.  


The trout didn't disappoint.



How good was the fishing?  


Well, Jenny caught and released a gorgeous lake trout in the 12- to 14-pound range and then hooked another similar size, head throbbing, drag screaming fish before I even had time to clear out the slush from my hole and drop down my lure to start the day's fishing.

When the action begins like that, you know it is going to be another great day ice fishing in Northern Ontario

Still, there was a secret of sorts to our stellar success.  We were ice fishing "the conditions", paying no attention whatsoever to the date on the calendar.  


And it made all the difference in the world.


Indeed, if we had let ourselves be guided by the calendar, we would have been lead straight down the garden path.  We would have assumed that the trout bite was quieting down, as it usually does leading into the February doldrums.   And we would have fished late January and early February locations. 

But, with the delayed ice conditions this winter, it wasn't the case because we enjoyed the same great "first ice bite" that we normally would relish when the season opens on New Year's Day.  And because we fished the conditions, and not the date on the calendar, we set up and drilled our holes over the same early winter structures that we normally would have fished a month ago.  In other words, we shunned the trouty locations that the calendar suggested that we should have been fishing.


Understand what I am saying?  



Because the formation of good ice was so much later this winter, delayed by at least a month, the lake trout are acting as though it is the first day of January, rather than the first day of February, as it will be next week.   And the walleyes, yellow perch, black crappies, northern pike and whitefish are behaving in the very same fashion.  

As a matter of fact, before we set out on our two-day lake trout extravaganza, we shook off the cobwebs by catching a whack of walleyes and jumbo yellow perch.  And once again, we found the feeding frenzy focussed, not on our traditional late January / early February locations that the calendar suggested, but on the spots that we normally would have fished at first ice in mid-December.

It is really intriguing when you think about it because it also begs the question, whether or not we'll experience a February lull in the action.  Normally, in the middle of winter, just like the middle of summer, the fish settle in to seasonal haunts and laid back routines.  



But, I suspect it is not going to happen this winter because, by the time we're half-way through the shortest month of the year, the weather and ice conditions are likely going to be symptomatic of early spring.  

So, just like now, we'll fish the conditions - matching our locations and presentations - to the much warmer than normal weather conditions and disregard the date that appears on the calendar.

Indeed, if the rest of the winter unfolds the way I suspect it is going to, it means that the ice fishing is only going to get better and better, right across Northern Ontario, as the season progresses.


For that, I can hardly wait.




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