Will winter ever come to an end this year?

As I lifted a walleye out of my hole in the ice over the weekend, I decided that would be it for me for the day.
It was my fourth “keeper” fish of the morning, making my limit, so I had accomplished what I had set out to do–catch a few fish for dinner.
A couple of friends had called earlier in the morning about going out fishing, so I said I would go (although to be honest, the four feet of ice we still have and the freezing temperatures kind of had me feeling like staying in the house might be a better idea).
Even though it is not January cold, the unseasonably cold weather over the past week has been pretty depressing. There has not been a lot of melting yet and the way things are going, we’ll be lucky if our lakes are free of ice by May long weekend.
Hopefully we’ll set some heat records later in April!
I’ve done quite a bit of ice-fishing over the past few weeks, most of it planned earlier in the winter because the fishing during the late-March time frame is typically so good.
As the ice starts to melt and water starts flowing again, it seems to set off a trigger for fish like walleye and pike to move to predictable locations and all species seem to bite pretty well.
Later this week, I’m headed back down south for my next FLW Tour bass tournament next week at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, so this week is going to be it for me for ice-fishing this year. I have two bass tournaments in April so I’ll be away for much of the month.
Hopefully when I get home, some melting will have happened!
As I always state at this time of year, safety always should be the number-one consideration when you head out ice-fishing. Conditions can change and deteriorate quickly this time of year but thanks to our wonderful weather over the past couple of weeks, there still is plenty of ice and some good fishing to be had.
Walleye fishing is open until April 15 before closing until the third Saturday in May. As much as I know a lot of their movement this time of year is driven by melting snow and ice, I think that the longer days we are experiencing now will have some influence on getting them to move to predictable locations, as well.
Since we are so late in the winter, if I was headed out walleye fishing this weekend, I would start thinking about fishing out from some of the obvious spawning areas–a safe distance out from incoming creeks or in front of shallow bays.
This also is the best time of the winter to ice-fish many of the smaller, inland lakes we have for walleyes across Sunset Country. As a kid, my dad used to take me north of Kenora to fish a few different lakes up towards Minaki and the fishing always was best on these lakes late in the season.
One thing we may miss out on somewhat this year, compared to most years, is the phenomenal walleye fishing on the Rainy River over the first couple of weeks of April before the season closes.
A huge number of Lake of the Woods fish migrate up the river every year to spawn and it can offer some amazing fishing if the conditions are right.
I have been hearing reports of some anglers getting out on the river over the past few days, but there still is some ice out there and the big run of fish has not arrived quite yet.
The lake trout lakes always are the last for the ice to go out of, so they are a good bet to fish late in the season. It seems like once the snow melts off the ice and more light penetrates the deep water that lake trout like, the better the fishing, probably because they can see your lures from farther away.
I seldom use anything but a soft plastic tube or fluke anymore when I fish for lake trout but last week, one of my friends kicked my butt using a spoon tipped with a piece of sucker belly meat–an old-school trout-catcher in Northwestern Ontario.
Give it a try if you get out here over the last couple of weeks of the season.