When I think back to my days in high school and my March break activities, fun fishing trips come to mind. Heading south on Lake of the Woods via the ice road to catch walleyes, lake trout fishing north of Kenora or the annual trip to Nestor Falls to catch crappies. I can remember some years with cold weather, but usually we had plenty of sun and great weather for ice fishing.
In the early years, my Dad would take my brother, sister and I out on the ice. We would catch a few fish but usually we’d have more fun cooking hot dogs over a fire, simply enjoying being outside. As I got older, fishing got more serious. I started to get out there with friends who also had an interest in catching fish and exploring new bodies of water.
In my later years of high school I had a few friends who had access to vehicles, which allowed us to fish more places. We never had a snowmobile so usually we’d just drive as close as we could to a fishing spot and then we’d walk. There are so many places I’ve walked out to fish over the years, we didn’t care, we just wanted to catch fish. Every once in a while, we came across access to a snowmobile and if we got one to use for the day we would try to go somewhere that was an adventure and hope for great fishing.
March is a great time for ice fishing because the ice is still safe in most areas as long as you stay away from any moving water. Eventually as the ice starts to melt, it deteriorates quickly so you have to keep an eye on that. The sun starts to kick out the heat and the weather is much more enjoyable than earlier in the winter. For most species, the fishing is as good as any time during the ice season.
If you spend quite a bit of time on the ice you probably have a roster of places to catch fish but if you’re new to the activity, you gain experience by getting out there. If you simply just want to get out of the house and catching a few fish is a bonus, there are plenty of good spots out there with easy access. You might consider finding a reef or point to fish near an ice road.
If you are interested in adventure and want an opportunity to catch more and bigger fish, you could consider trying to get into more remote waterbodies to fish. Asking around the local fishing shops can be a good place to find information on lakes to try. I’ll sometimes use aerial mapping to look for possible trails or access points on more remote waters. I love exploring new places to fish. Sometimes these new spots work out and you find some hidden gems. Other times, they’ll be a bust. There are some apps out there that allow you to find mapping for some of the bigger waters in the region right on your phone, so you can get an idea of where to drill holes.
For the parents out there, if your kids show some interest in ice fishing, try to get them out there. If nobody takes them, they will never go. Pick a nice day so everybody doesn’t freeze and remember to keep the focus on having fun; catching fish is a bonus. Bringing plenty of snacks is always a good idea.
If you are new to ice fishing you could consider hiring a guide to show you the ropes. There are several guides around the region who can provide all of the gear and teach you what you need to know to stay safe and catch a few fish. Some even rent shelters to fish out of, so you can go in any kind of weather.
Ice fishing is fun and March break is a great time to get out on the ice and enjoy Sunset Country.