Your top five ice options for March

?The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and many fish under the ice are really starting to increase their activity levels.
March is prime time for ice anglers and usually treats us to the days we dream about in December and January—days when the sun shines bright and the sound of melting snow is music to our ears.
With the worst of winter behind us (hopefully), let’s take a look at the top five ice-fishing opportunities you need to chase down during this final month of the season.
Probably the most under-utilized fish by sport anglers, and the most targeted fish by commercial anglers, the lake whitefish is plentiful in many lakes around the region.
“Whities” are great eating and fight extremely tough—pound for pound as much as any other freshwater fish I know of.
Excellent smoked, whitefish are good baked and fried, as well. With practice, a ‘y’ bone similar to that of a lake trout can be removed with ease.
Look for whitefish in any of the larger waters in the region. Large semi-deep mud flats (30-50 feet) are great late-season locations as whitefish feed on the many invertebrates that emerge from these soft bottoms.
Small spoons tipped with a piece of minnow are all you need.
Just remember whitefish have a voracious appetite, but a small mouth so smallish lures hook fish the best.
Crappies have become more popular with Sunset Country anglers in recent years because they are great-eating, but also because of the tools available to ice anglers today that help them catch more fish.
There are plenty of good traditional fishing spots located between Fort Frances and Kenora, but the key to really dialing in these fish is to use a flasher to see where they are located in the water column.
Crappies typically suspend higher in the water column in the late ice season, most likely because the increasing light provokes more crappie forage to higher levels.
Without electronics like the Humminbird Ice 55 unit that I use, most anglers will drop their jigs past the fish and miss catching them.
When you head out, look for crappies to appear on your electronics five, 10, even 15 feet above the bottom.
A couple weeks from now, when all the snow has melted off the ice (again, hopefully), everybody should take a day and hit an area lake in search of pike.
The snow melting off the ice is a trigger for pike to make a move to shallow water, specifically those weedy bays off the main lake. Pike spawn shortly after the ice goes, which induces this movement.
Drill holes in six-15 feet of water and set up a tip-up with a large frozen cisco rigged on a quick-strike rig. Set the cisco about a foot off the bottom.
Use a white tube jig on your second line and jig while you wait for the tip-up to be set off.
It’s no secret the best lake trout waters are remote and snowmobile accessible only, and there is no better time to visit these lakes than when the days are long and temperatures are pleasant.
I can tell you one thing, it’s a lot easier on your gear. I don’t know how many times I’ve ventured into these remote lakes in the middle of winter when it’s minus-30 and seen parts break on snowmobiles or augers fall apart, among other things.
The added element of danger while travelling into these waters when its really cold is decreased, as well.
As for the fishing, March weather typically makes for increased fishing action on most lake trout waters. Venture into some remote waters with some buddies and you will have a dream day on the ice.
Finally, walleyes receive more pressure from ice anglers in Sunset Country than any other species in March and for good reason—fishing is usually as good as it is all season.
Increased light levels trigger a movement in walleyes, as well as pike, to bust a move towards spawning areas: creeks, shallow bays, and sandy shorelines.
Think about areas that walleyes might spawn in on the waters you fish and try to drill holes where you can intercept fish as they move towards these locations.
I seldom use anything other than spoons like a Buck-Shot or Macho Minnow tipped with minnow heads when I fish walleyes. But on some of the really good shallow walleye lakes, a jig tipped with a lively minnow can be tough to beat.
The walleye fisheries on most area lakes are second-to-none so get out there. And for the best action, stick it out until the prime time bite late in the day.
The weather is looking pretty good for this weekend so if you are planning to hit the ice, I don’t blame you.
If you’re looking for something else to do, make a trip to Winnipeg to attend the Mid-Canada Boat Show, which takes place Thursday through Sunday. I am doing seminars each day, showing off some of the hottest new lures on the market on the big demo tank that will be full of fish.
You will be able to see all the newest boats, motors, boating accessories, and fishing gear, as well.
Hope to see you there!

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