Bait your hook, drop your line, and jig em’ up…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

A time of the year so many Manitoban anglers anticipate… The opening day of the 2015/2016 fishing season. This Saturday, May 9 marks the first day of open water fishing in the Whiteshell. Whether it’s walleye, black crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike, or lake trout that you fancy, be sure head out to the Whiteshell Provincial Park this weekend to catch those first fish of the season in one of the beautiful lakes in the park.

IMG_3029IMG_3154For the more competitive anglers, be sure to come out and fine tune your jigging skills for the 2015 Walleye Masters Cup on Falcon Lake, scheduled for Saturday, June 6 this year. The tournament is in support of the Central Walleye Trail, Fish Futures, and the Never Alone Foundation. Continue reading

A Frozen Obsession

Many people don’t understand the sport of ice fishing. Many people wonder why anyone would want to sit out in the cold, staring at a hole in the ice, waiting and hoping for some legendary fish will come out of it. However, as the anglers in this documentary will show you, it’s so much more than that. Many Manitobans prefer to embrace winter with their love of chasing an adventure in the great outdoors, and there’s no better place to do so than in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Here is a brief documentary about why people love to do this crazy Canadian pastime known as ice fishing. Filmed in the Whiteshell at the 2014 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off and on West Hawk Lake with Shield Outfitters.

Filmed/edited by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor.

 

Through the Ice Crappie Fishing

Written by Ian Young, Shield Outfitters owner/guide.

The Whiteshell is home to some of the best black crappie fishing in Manitoba. Crappie are good eating and fun to catch, but as an introduced species to our area not many people know much about them. Here are some tips to make your next outing a successful one.

First off, know your lake. Does it have crappie in it? Do a little research. Locals will usually give you a little information and guide you in the right direction, even if they don’t tell you their honey holes. Where to start? I like to fish the deepest hole in the lake during the winter, particularly during first ice. The deeper holes contain the warmest water and highest oxygen concentrations at certain times of the year. Both of these factors lead to more active fish.  Because crappie are a schooling fish, they can be concentrated in small area of a large lake basin, making them very tough to locate. Try and find a point of land that reaches out into a deep hole. A sunken tree or other midlake structure can also provide something for fish to relate to and is a good place to start.

The author and owner/guide of Shield Outfitters with a nice 16" crappie.

The author and owner/guide of Shield Outfitters with a nice 15.5″ crappie from the Whiteshell.

Locating crappie requires a flasher. Usually feeding crappie will be suspended halfway up the water column. I start by drilling several holes and move around from hole to hole with my flasher, moving my bait up and down through the water column to try and find a fish. If crappie are nearby they will often come over and investigate your bait and you will see them on your flasher. I would never stay at a hole that doesn’t have a fish under it for more than about five minutes without moving.

Locating fish is half the battle, and getting them to bite is the other half. Crappie can the easiest fish to catch if they are in the mood. Catching one will often trigger the competitor within them and start a feeding frenzy among the school. However more often then not, and especially in the winter, it can be very difficult to trigger that bite. Crappie can be very sluggish in the winter and may hang out and look at your bait for hours without biting. If you’re fishing on a lake that allows live bait, they will usually out-fish artificial bait. However in the Whiteshell our regulations require us to use artificial baits. So I like to use a very light, 1/16th or 1/32nd  ounce jig with a minnow shaped bait to match. To fish such light baits you need a light action rod and very light line, my preference is a 2 – 4lb fluorocarbon line. Light lines provide the best fishability with light baits, but you must be careful when setting the hook and bringing fish through the hole as it does break easily. My favorite colour to use by far is Glow. Glow baits have phosphorous in them and store the energy of light they’re exposed to and emit it slowly in the dark. This gives the bait a light green glow and makes it highly visible. Glow baits work well in the Whiteshell because many of the lakes have stained water, and there is very little light under snow-covered ice. (Try supercharging your glow baits to make them extra visible by shining a bright light on them for a few seconds before they go down the hole, I keep my headlamp in my pocket for this reason).
IMG_0470While fishing through the ice, always be open to trying something new. Sometimes even being in the right spot with the right bait doesn’t mean catching fish, especially in the winter. Cold water and short light cycles cause fish to be very finicky and not eating much, and as a result can be difficult to coax to bite. Trying new baits and techniques will never hurt… especially if you can see fish on the flasher.

In the winter presentation plays a big role in triggering the bite.  I find when the bite is real slow and I can see fish on my flasher that refuse to bite, an ultra slow presentation sometimes works. I find when I hold the rod in my hand I cannot keep it still enough for this technique. The only way is to place the rod on the ice or in a rod holder (I prefer on the ice) and watch the rod tip closely for any movement.  I watch my flasher to show me where the fish is and I’ll place my hook just in front of the fish and leave it dead still. When I see the rod tip vibrate or dip down, I’ll grab the rod and set the hook in one motion.  If it sits still for thirty seconds or so without a strike I will jig a few times to remind the fish that my bait is down there and try to trigger strike, and then let it sit still for a while again. If that doesn’t work after five minutes, I will change my lure or move to another hole and find a fish that is more receptive.IMG_0468 copyCrappie are fun to catch and delicious, but it is important to practice good conservation strategies. Always use barbless hooks and release anything you’re not going to eat. Sometimes when you get into a school of fish it can be easy to think that there are tons of fish in the lake. Remember that you have found a concentrated school of fish, and removing too many fish from that school will seriously damage the population. Also it’s important to know that the biggest fish in the school are the most successful spawners. If you do get into a group of fish and plan on taking some home, set yourself some limits. Choose to keep only fish between 10 and 12 inches. That way you can bring home a good feed while still protecting the fishery.

Crappie fishing can provide constant action. If you don’t have the equipment or knowledge to do it yourself, consider hiring a guide. It’s a great way to get the kids into fishing and the outdoors.

Good luck out there.

Reeling In With Shield Outfitters

Fishing.

To some it’s a relaxing day in the outdoors, enjoying being on the water and experiencing nature. To others, it is a stringer of walleye and a shore lunch, or perhaps the family dinner that follows a successful day on the pond. Then again, to some it is the thrill of a rod bending, unseen giant stripping line off against a feebly resisting drag; the adrenaline spike from the first glimpse of a massive trophy fish. And finally, if the angler wins the battle, the high fives and loud enthusiasms of the victory that cannot be explained, only understood.

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Shield Outfitters caters to them all. And in royal fashion, for the Shield Outfitters guides have the great privilege to guide their clients to memorable catches on some of the most picturesque lakes found in North America – in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Whether it’s slab crappies, elusive trophy walleye, tackle-busting monster northern pike, or the acrobatic smallmouth bass, Shield Outfitters can provide the experience any angler is looking for.

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As the seasons roll by, each species takes its turn at center stage. First the walleye action lights up after ice out, only distracted by the huge lake trout available on a consistent basis in the spring. Then it’s the crappie, followed by the smallmouth bass and northern pike in June, leading us into the summer patterns that offer all species on an equal footing. Late summer means walleye action is about to explode again, and look out for those giant northerns – September is the time!
dianerelease copyShield Outfitters has made many a trophy hunter’s dream come true. They have even guided to a provincial record, the crappie fly fishing mark was set on a Shield Outfitters excursion. Ian Young, AJ Gill, and Dave Abbott are the Shield Outfitters angling team that has years of combined success guiding clients to unforgettable catches, memorialized by great photos of their angling experiences in the Whiteshell.
BeaverDaysTrout copyFor those trophy hunters with Lake of the Woods muskie on their mind, giant walleyes through the ice on Lake Winnipeg, Red River catfish, or even the massive freshwater drum of Lake Manitoba, Shield Outfitters will trailer up and guide you to the action.

Ian_LOTWeye copyIn addition to trophy angling, Shield Outfitters also guides to family fishing experiences, wilderness tripping, and back country angling (for lake trout), as well as winter adventures, igloo building, and ice fishing. If your idea of fishing is more of a day on the water with friends and family complete with catching your own shore lunch, Shield Outfitters has got you’ve covered.

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Shield Outfitters. Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Catch the excitement!

For more information on Shield Outfitters, visit http://www.shieldoutfitters.com. To book a guided fishing trip call the Falcon Lake Marina at 1(204)-349-8923 and ask for Ian or e-mail ian.flmarina@gmail.com