Ice-fishing provides fun

Late fall always is an interesting time of year.
The changing of the season is very noticeable as temperatures start dipping below freezing quite frequently. Yet we still get those nice days, with light winds mixed in, that allow us to get outdoors, in the woods, or in the boat and be comfortable.
There always is some disappointment with the end of the open-water fishing season, which is upon us very soon, because we know that for the next five months, we don’t have the option to fish out of a boat.
That being said, ice-fishing provides fun for many of us throughout the winter.
I can say that I’ve caught my biggest pike, crappie, lake trout, and walleye all through the ice. There’s just something about cold water brings out those biggest fish of each species.
For hunters, we are in the homestretch of our annual season. Once we get some snow to stick to the ground, grouse hunting gets to be pretty tough.
Despite the prediction that ruffed grouse were in the low end of their population cycle this year, my friends and I had pretty good luck this fall hunting grouse.
They probably are my favourite thing on Earth to eat, so that is the motivation to get on foot on the old logging roads around our area to find these birds.
Grouse hunting is something that my Dad took me to do when I was really young, and is definitely where I was introduced to hunting, so it’s something that remains special to me.
For deer hunters, the next week will be the peak of the hunting season as the annual rut cycle happens. Mature whitetail bucks that seldom are seen throughout the rest of the year drop their guard as they get on foot looking for girlfriends—making it a great time to be in the woods.
Meanwhile, moose hunters who did not get to use their tag earlier in the season probably still are looking for the king of the woods in Northwestern Ontario.
The early season is a popular time to hunt for many area hunters because the moose rut occurs during that period. But moose hunting also is popular late in the season, as well, because there are fewer hunters in the woods.
As well, from late November until the season closes in mid-December, moose hunting can be really good because the cold temperatures keep moose on the move to stay warm and look for food.
My friends and I always plan a late-season trip north to the Red Lake area for an annual moose hunt, which is what we have plans to do again this year. I always look forward to it.
For anglers, this weekend likely will be the last time to get on the water in a boat—if you can find an access point that is still open. And if you still happen to have a boat in the water, you better get it out!
I had to break ice when I launched my boat on Lake of the Woods earlier this week to run out and pick up a couple of my tree stands and trail cameras. I also noticed that there was a new Lund boat frozen in the ice next to the dock at the boat ramp.
Hopefully the owner got it out of the water!
This past weekend, I did talk to a couple of friends who still managed to catch a few muskies—trolling big cisco-imitating crankbaits—while a couple of my regular fishing partners, Jamie Bruce and Scott Dingwall, caught some walleyes and crappies on the Winnipeg River.
Start getting that ice-fishing gear ready because it won’t be long before we’ll be drilling holes to wet a line.

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