Finally ice-fishing

After our first good cold snap of the winter a couple weeks ago, lakes across Northwestern Ontario finally are frozen after an unseasonably warm fall.
For those of us who enjoy ice-fishing, a new season is now upon us.
Ice conditions early in the season can be tougher to predict because the ice simply hasn’t had a lot of time to form. But it is typically good, strong ice since it has not been through any melting stages yet.
It is recommended there should be at least four inches of ice for walking, eight inches for a snowmobile, and 14 inches for a truck.
At this point in the season, most of our lakes are safe for snowmobile travel, although some of the large, deep lake trout lakes may not be quite there yet because they froze last.
The big dump of snow we got earlier in the week will slow the ice-building down a little, as well. The best thing to do is drill holes to test the ice before venturing out on it.
There are some ice roads starting to show up on Lake of the Woods so if you venture out with a truck, I would recommend sticking to the plowed roads for now.
I got out on Lake of the Woods late last week for some walleye fishing and there was around 10 inches of ice where we were fishing. We took our snowmobiles out and had a great afternoon of fishing.
I never freeze fish so after going for about two months without eating any fresh walleye, it was really nice to have a few for dinner.
My bait of choice was one of the new UV-coloured Northland Buck-Shot Spoons. These rattling spoons have put thousands of walleyes on the ice for me over the years and, in my opinion, are one of the best ice-fishing baits of all time.
The new UV colours are brighter and more visible to fish in the deep water. They work, trust me!
I usually use a quarter-ounce Buck-Shot Spoon, and choose brighter colours in darker water or low-light conditions and more natural colours in clear water. I always tip the spoon with a minnow head, as well, for a little bit of scent that helps to trigger strikes.
Just the head is better because if you use an entire minnow, then the whole package becomes too big and the spoon loses its ability to flutter.
The popular jig and minnow is a proven walleye bait, as well, but sometimes the spoons has the ability to call fish in from a wider area, which is what I like about them.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what all of this snow is going to do to our ice conditions across the region. It’s likely that a lot of the smaller lakes are going to have some slush issues, which can make travel difficult.
Hopefully, we don’t get another big dump of snow anytime soon and things should freeze up okay.
All the best in 2017. I hope everybody catches the biggest fish of their life!
And be safe out there on the ice!

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