Sudden end to ice-fishing

Over the past week, I’ve witnessed something I didn’t think was possible during the middle of March: the ice on lakes across Sunset Country has been absolutely devastated since the 20-degree temperatures arrived last week.
The ice on our lakes went from having a foot of snow on it early last week to not being safe to travel on at all—in literally eight days.
I’ve been fishing hard over the past week doing some guide trips and fishing with friends, and we quickly had our options of where we wanted to fish cut drastically by the weekend.
As much as I can’t wait to get my Lund in the water, it’s a little disappointing because it’s such a fun time of year to be on the ice. Fishing is good and it’s a relaxing time of year.
What happened to the ice over the past week usually takes about three weeks to pan out in a normal year. But not a whole lot we can do about it.
It was a fun week of fishing in the nice weather. My buddies and I chased most of the major species across the region, and had good days for pike, lake trout, and walleye.
We actually didn’t get a lot of crappie fishing in, which usually is my favourite thing to do at this time of year because their activity level usually ratchets up a notch.
Our plan was to make a big run south on Lake of the Woods for crappies early in the week but the ice conditions deteriorated just enough that we decided not to go.
We did score a few big pike. Late-season is prime time to chase pike because the big fish all are making a run for the shallow weedy bays where they will spawn shortly after the ice goes out.
We caught some nice fish jigging aggressive rattle baits like a Northland Rippin Shad or a Rapala Rippin Rap. Both baits make a lot of noise and will call fish in from long distances.
We got the biggest ones, however, on tip-ups with dead ciscos rigged up beneath them. The biggest fish was a 42-incher that would have weighed more than 20 pounds.
Walleye fishing usually is really hot late in the winter, but it was mediocre this past week as the fish didn’t turn up in some of the usual places, most likely because the spring has arrived so fast and they just haven’t been moving at quite the same pace.
We did catch some numbers of fish, but not as many big ones as other years. Hot baits remained my usual favourite, including the Northland BuckShot Rattle Spoon as well as a new one Northland has coming down the pipe for next year called the Whistler Spoon.
The president of Northland Fishing Tackle, my friend, John Peterson, was up fishing with us for a few days and had a few samples of the new bait for us to try.
It worked really well.
Now that the open-water season is just about upon us, it’s time to get the boat ready to hit the water.
Lakes will start to open up next week while I expect the Rainy River probably will be ready to fish this weekend.

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