Getting away on the ice 

Last week was one of the busiest I have ever experienced. After the good fortune I had, winning the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament, it was a crazy week doing interviews of all kinds for media all over North America. We were invited onto radio shows in cities across Canada and the U.S., did interviews with a number of fishing publications and websites, and we were guests on several podcasts. It was all good stuff but it was busy. Over the weekend I got together with a few friends for a getaway on the ice, a few hours north of home, in Red Lake, Ontario.  

My friend Ian Cooke owns Five Lakes Lodge, just a few kilometers south of Red Lake. It’s a nice place that I’ve stayed at many times over the years. We had planned this ice fishing trip earlier in the winter so I was excited for it last week – it was coming at a good time. They have some of the best fishing opportunities in the world in the Red Lake area, especially for walleye, pike and lake trout. It’s near the end of the road and there is so much water to explore, I love getting to go up there for a few days every year.

After a busy couple of weeks south of the border, this trip into the northern wilderness, where I would have no cell service was welcomed. We had a great trip last year around the same time and caught more big pike in three days than I had ever seen before. This year, we did catch some pike but we decided to go on an adventure in a remote, fly-in only lake to look for lake trout. This particular lake was also known to have a good walleye population as well so we would try to fish for them later in the day.

We had a beautiful 20 kilometre ride into the lake on our snowmobiles and while we didn’t see any moose, we did see a bunch of tracks. The trail was through a dense spruce forest, which made for a very relaxing ride. We started the trout hunt, fishing a number of points on main lake islands, covering depths between 50 and 100 feet of water. I like to try and get near the sharp drop-offs, where I feel like trout will patrol these edges and pick off bait when they get the chance. We fished hard for several hours but the trout got the better of us. We caught a few but definitely did not figure out where they all were in this lake.

I really enjoy getting to fish new water whenever I can. I love the adventure aspect of it and when you figure out the fish, it’s very satisfying. On this day, the lake trout outsmarted us so late in the afternoon we made a move to the mouth of a shallow bay where we figured the walleye might be staging in advance of spawning after the ice goes out.

We were on a large flat in 15-20 feet of water and while I was drilling holes, the guys started lifting walleyes onto the ice. We had amazing fishing for a couple of hours, catching enough for a nice dinner as well as a few bigger ones that were released. They were beautiful, golden walleyes and they were active. It was a lot of fun.  

Jeff Gustafson with a nice walleye from his ice fishing adventure this past weekend. 

Getting away for a fishing adventure is good for the soul and it was welcomed for me this past weekend. Seven of us stayed in a cabin at Five Lakes Lodge, we ate really well, stayed up late and just told stories for hours. While fishing trips like this to a fishing resort are common in the summer, there are places across Northwest Ontario that remain open through the winter as well. If you need a getaway from the hustle and bustle of life, go and visit a fishing resort with some friends for a couple of days, it will make you feel good!