Discovering Manitoba

Ice Fishing: Wonderful way to enjoy Manitoba Winters

What is there about fishing that fascinates us so much? Perhaps it’s the tranquillity of waiting, silently, for the big one to bite. Or it could be the way fishing brings you so close to nature; that silly sense you get that you and the fish are communicating, playing an exciting game of hide and seek with you in the air, the fish in the water.

It doesn’t matter. Fishing is a compelling occupation that lures its passionate fans out even on the coldest days to huddle over a hole in the ice in the intimacy of a private hut in search of the big one.

Ice fishing in Manitoba comes with special benefits. One of them is the quality of the prairie winter: the icy cold that makes you feel alive in a way nothing else can. Inside your layers of warm clothing, you don’t care about the temperature out there, but the clearness of the air, the way the frost rimes the trees, the brilliance of the lemon yellow sun all make your heart sing.

Ice fishing is a different sport from open water fishing. It is one thing to hook the fish but it’s quite another to bring it safely through the hole in the ice. This takes a bit of skill and many great catches are left behind in the final stages of the game! It’s worth the challenge, though. Trophy hunters have lots of opportunity to land walleye, pike, whitefish, lake trout, silver bass, and perch and more causal fishers will just enjoy the thrill of fishing in the winter season.

For those who want their ice fishing to come with all the luxuries, there are many fishing lodges in Manitoba on Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg and Dauphin Lake in the Whiteshell and places north that offer ice fishing. Lodges near Flin Flon and The Pas can point you to the best places to get lake trout. Further north, at place such as Grand Rapids, you can go for the monster northern pike. Some of them will rent you fishing huts and other fishing accessories. Others will transport you to your fishing hole in the wilderness by snowmobile. You can bring your catch back to have it cooked for you by the chef at the lodge or, as one of the more enterprising fishermen, you can cook and eat it in your own ice-fishing hut out on the lake.

An annual ice fishing contest is held on Lake Dauphin, where the grand prize is $20,000 and there are prizes for the first 100 fish caught. Holes are predrilled and fishing is in the open, although portable tents and windbreaks are available for rent on shore. For information got to or call (204) 638-3658.

The derby is managed by the Intermountain Sport Fishing Enhancement group. There is also the Winter Fish Off at Falcon Lake where the top prize is $10,000, with many secondary prizes. You can stay at the Flacon Lake Hotel and launch your day on the ice from the comfort of a fully equipped resort. Call (204) 255- 6022 for information about the ice fishing derby.

- by George Finnerton

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