2021 COVID stops play!

Lockdown in the UK prevented us from travelling this winter, so here's something a little different to look at. Before we started ice fishing we fished the Red River in summer, targeting its Channel Cats and Carp.

In summer the Red River is a very different beast, no -30c now, it can be very warm with temperatures climbing into the high 80s.

A look at the unfrozen Red River

30ft down inside the lock Lock Port dam opened 1909

Summer trips are usually spent targeting channel cats and carp. Although not as big as its European cousin, the channel cat fights much harder pound for pound in the fast current. The Red is also full of wild common carp, referred to locally as 'Torpedoes' as the bites are super fast.

Note: shape of tail Big tail and fins
Steve with a cat from the dam Di with a cat from the dam

The best day's fishing we had was, sadly, on 9-11, a day none of us will ever forget. That day 3 of us boated 103 cats for a total weight of 1 ton, 290 pounds.

Steve with a cat on Di with a cat on
On another day Di had 2 cats within 2 minutes of casting out.

Hopefully 2022 will see life back to normal and we will return in the winter for more ice fishing.

February 2020

This was our 20th year fishing in Canada and our 15th ice fishing. Each year we go back its never the same. After last years temperatures of -20 to -30c, this year was not too bad with temperatures around 0c to some days when it dropped to -15 to -30c. However, we had one day when it was too cold to go fishing. The air temperature was -30c but the wind chill dropped that to -52c. This was a perfect day to go for a drive and see the beautiful countryside.

Sunrise over St Andrews airport

AMG Mercedes driving academy

This was the day the temperature was -30c with a wind chill to -52c

Ice ridges at Breezy Point

The Red River was flowing very fast because of the high water levels from the USA. When the temperature drops, aided by the wind chill of strong winds, waves form and are instantly frozen, then they melt and refreeze. This forms spikes in the ice known as Ice Ridges or Frazel Ice which look like small ice bergs. It is hard to believe that this is a river and not the sea.

So in some places this year we were unable to drive on the river. We had to pull our fishing gear on and off the ice on sleds, very heavy and hard work.

By the end of our holiday we had caught 6 pike and 1 walleye. We lost lost a lot of fish, mainly through pike dropping the bait at the hole and the fact that only barbless hooks may be used. I lost 7 in one day, but when you land your fish it makes it all worthwhile.

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February 2019

Our annual ice fishing trip to Canada this year turned out to be the coldest we have ever experienced in 19 years. The average temperature was around -20 to -30c. This year really was extreme, some days it dropped as low as -40c, with the wind chill lowering it further to -54c.

Lockport Dam

Frozen dam at Lockport

At this temperature it is dangerous to expose your skin, frostbite can occur in just 2 minutes. Even worse your eyes can freeze! Its not fair on the fish either as they will freeze and gasp for air as soon as you lift them out of the water. We only managed to fish for 5 days in the three weeks that we were over there and only 2 pike and a trout were caught.

We did go on a trip up north to Clearwater Lake which is well known for its big Lake trout. To get there is a six to seven hour journey, driving 394 miles on the winter roads. Driving in the dark can also be dangerous on winter roads as you cannot see the snow drifts or the deep ditches. Its so dark that you literally cannot see you hand in front of your face. Thankfully we arrived just as it got dark.

Driving on the winter roads

The two days that we fished up north saw temperatures of around -40c with mist, fog, sun and heavy snow showers. The weather can change so quickly that you can get lost if you don't have a GPS. We drove on snowmobiles for about an hour across the lake in deep snow using the GPS to pinpoint various fishing spots.

Clearwater Lake

8 miles on snowmobiles

On one of the days that it was to cold to go fishing we had a drive into town. As we walked around the shops the Global News film crew were asking people if they were Ice Hockey fans. When they asked us we replied no, we were 'soccer' fans. Recognizing our English accents they asked why we were here at this time of year. We told them that we were on our 19th year of ice fishing trips. They were amazed and asked if they could film an interview with us as it would make for an interesting feature. We gave them our contact details and two days later we received a phone call to arrange a time and place.

Interview with Di

Interview with Steve

The young man who interviewed us was a great, friendly guy named Merek. The filming took place at Neetley Creek on the Red River. The temperature that day was -35c with the wind chill. Merek filmed us setting up our tip-ups and drilling the holes. By the time he had finished filming the wind increased and it started to snow. Sadly no fish made an appearance for the camera.

Preparing for the interview

We would like to say a big thank you to Global News Winnipeg for the feature - English couple in love with ice fishing

A video of a big lake trout ignoring a jigged lure - One that got away

We will be back on the ice next year, hopefully the weather will be in our favour.

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February 2018

We returned to Canada for our annual ice fishing trip on the 19th January. On our first day of fishing it was only -6c with just a light breeze. We were due to fish at Maria Creek. This was our first trip there as for the past 5 years the road to the creek was impassable because of very deep snow drifts.

The ice was about 4ft thick but with deep cracks. Normally they are covered by snow so you are unaware of the dangers that lurk beneath your wheels.

Always check the thickness of the ice

A crack in the ice road

We drove onto the river at Breezy Point and set off for the 30 minute drive to Maria. Unfortunately all of the turnings on such a large, frozen river look the same and we missed the turn off to Maria Creek. We turned around and after about 45 minutes arrived just as the sun rose. You can see beautiful sights like this sun dog or parhelion (an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to the left and/or right of the Sun within a 22° halo).

The fishing at Maria was good, we landed 7 pike with one weighing over 20lbs (see End Results page). Before we left England we had purchased a Petch trough, a long rectangular protective bag, specially designed for unhooking pike. Designed by Ian Petch they are made by Cotswold Aquarius in England. This turned out to be a superb decision as it insulates the pike from the ice and wind especially in temperatures ranging from -7c down to -40c. We heartily recommend them to other anglers who, like us, practise catch and release fishing (see End Results page).

Our trip to George Lake in the Whiteshell, however, was a disaster. We took a quad bike and a snowmobile with us as we have to travel across tundra to reach the lake. Sadly as we arrived the temperatures plummeted to -40c and the quad refused to start! We will try again next year.

We caught a total of 23 pike during the trip with the best day's fishing being at Maria Creek. The ice this year was very thick, 3-4 ft, and we were told that this was one of Manitoba's coldest winters for a number of years. Taking this into consideration we were very pleased with our catch numbers and are now already planning next year's trip.

Hydro plant on the Winnipeg River

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January 2017

After last year's trip in February with temperatures warmer than normal we decided to revert back to January for this year's trip. We arrived on the 6th to find plenty of ice and snow and temps between -22c and -30c, so it all looked promising for some good ice-fishing.

The plan soon fell apart as one of our suitcases had never left London, one that contained our winter clothing and some of our tackle. So our planned first weekend was put on hold as we had to wait for delivery of our suitcase from Air Canada. All was not lost, however, as on the Sunday there was a fishing 'Derby' (match) held at the float plane base in Selkirk. The Kid Fish event was a charity derby for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.

Two of our fishing friends were taking part so we went along to make a donation and support the event. Over 1200 people took part and over $39,000 was raised. A great was enjoyed by all, even by those who weren't fishing. Well done to all of the organisers!

Eventually our suitcase arrived and our fishing got under way. The first few days were very cold, with lots of hits and a few fish landed although nothing huge. The largest being about 14lb. The large falls of snow also stopped us from driving the truck to our favourite hot spots, so we had to pull two sledges with all of our gear, carp anglers please note that this is the true meaning of 'pulling on and off'.

As the trip moved on the temperatures began to rise causing the snow to start melting. This allowed us to drive further onto the the river and reach our favourite spots. A first for us this trip was a day on Lake Winnipeg. This lake is the 12th largest in the world, it covers an area of 9.450 sq miles, so rather on the large size. We had a bash at fishing for Walleye and not being experts, two of our friends came along with us. Thick fog, melting snow and lots of surface water made driving on the lake very interesting, it was like something out of Ice-Road Truckers. Jigging was the preferred method for the walleye (dropshotting is nothing new). An interesting day was had with our Canadian friends thrashing us 20 to 3!

On driving off of the lake we saw what are known as 'Ice Ridges', which are caused by the pressure of the water when it freezes, an incredible site to see.

To sum up this year's trip, no large pike were caught but we had lots of smaller fish up to about 14lbs. All were in tiptop condition and all were previously uncaught. It sounds daft but the colder it was the more runs we got. Every year so far has been different and we have had to learn to adapt to all sorts of different situations but this provides us with the experience for the future. Just one more thing to mention, at the beginning of the trip the wind chill on one day reached -51c, the coldest we have experienced.

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February 2016

This year we returned in February, not January. It turned out not to be a good idea as the weather was mild in Manitoba. We had temperatures as high as +2 Celsius and as low as -39 with the wind chill. Good on our fingers but not good for the fishing.

We had just 10 pike with no big doubles, the largest was around 12-13 lbs. Last year, the colder the weather the better the fishing, this years was just too warm and too variable. It was not just the pike but all species were hard to catch. We think that the fish may have been spawning early. Next year we will try January again.

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January 2015

This was our 9th ice fishing trip to Canada and the weather this year was an improvement on last year's trip when Canada experienced its worst weather for 20 years. Temperatures this year ranged from 0c to -27c, although the wind chill on some days made it feel like -39c. Frost bite is likely during these conditions so great care has to be taken, unhooking and photographing fish has to be done very quickly and out of the wind.

George Lake was visited again but this time we travelled on quad bikes, not the best thing for your back when driving across the tundra. Strong winds and heavy snow en route made for an interesting trip but in the end it was well worth it with 5 lake trout to 7lbs being caught.

Driving on the river was a lot easier this trip as not much snow had fallen prior to our arrival. A first for us was our visit to Wavey Creek where the ice was crystal clear. You could see all of the cracks and how deep the ice was. The colour was black which means that it is strong ice and safe to be on. Care must be taken when driving. Speed is critical because if you go too fast the pressure of the water moving underneath can cause the cracks to open!

All in all it was a good trip, reasonable conditions and a total of 21 pike and 5 trout were caught. The biggest pike weighed just over 23 lbs.

Next year we are planning to return in February.

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January 2014

We returned to Canada for our annual ice fishing trip. This year the weather was extremely bad, temperatures fell as low as -52c on the Friday before we arrived. On one of the days that we fished the Red River the temperature was -28 but with the wind chill it was -41c. There was a very high risk of frost bite if we weren't careful.

The snow was also severe this year, it was too deep for us to drive onto the frozen rivers and lakes as we generally do. We landed a number of fish, with the best one over 20lbs, all fish were returned alive and well. On one day we drove snowmobiles to get to our destination but on most days we walked to our swims, pulling our gear along on sledges.

One day whilst sitting in the middle of the river in our pop-up shelters, the wind got up to 70kph. We just had to sit it out as the white-out conditions were so bad that there was a good chance of getting lost trying to find our trucks which were only a 10 minutes walk away.

By the end of our holiday we had caught fourteen pike, three in the high 20s plus 2 lake trout.

We hope to return in 2015

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