October 15, 2021
Planning a winter ice-fishing adventure to Manitoba’s scenic lake country might be easier and more affordable than you think. It will certainly offer the excuses needed to shut down electronics and plug into a family-friendly fishing trip to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Open borders are providing opportunities to hit the road for a winter-wonderland adventure you’ll love. The time is now! With hardwater right around the corner, we did some research for you to help get the dream kicked off.
A few years back, Paul Wiens and his wife, Anita, along with Paul’s brother, Matthew Wiens, and his wife, Sharnell teamed up to purchase Viking Lodge, a fishing and hunting lodge established in the 1950s located in the northwest division of Manitoba. It’s roughly a 7-hour drive from the city of Winnipeg to Viking Lodge, which is situated at the western end of First Cranberry Lake at the headwaters of the Grass River system and the start of the Grass River Provincial Park.
With access to seemingly endless amounts of prime ice fishing, guests at Viking Lodge have an opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime.
“There are a couple stocked trout lakes near us that have rainbows and brook trout,” Wiens added. “There’s quite a range of trophy species in this area, whether in our lakes or nearby.”
Viking Lodge offers 16 cabins during the open water season and one winterized cabin that can sleep eight guests. Wiens says Viking Lodge is more of a DIY lodge, especially in the winter, meaning guests bring their own ice fishing gear and tackle.
“It’s a more experienced crowd for sure,” he said.
Groomed snowmobile trails in and around Cranberry Portage makes for easy transportation between lakes in the winter and allows for access to some remote fishing spots.
Lake Athapapuskow, located a mile west of Viking Lodge, and Clearwater Lake to the south are known to hold lake trout that can exceed 45 inches in length with an average-sized laker on First Cranberry Lake coming pretty close.
The middle of the ice fishing season tends to produce better opportunities to catch trophy northern pike while walleye become the species of choice as springtime approaches.
Wiens says he still has openings for the upcoming winter.
Learn more at Viking Lodge
Bakers Narrows Lodge & Conference Center
Mac Mulligan and the guide staff at Bakers Narrows is very dedicated to helping guests connect with trophy-class lake trout, northern pike and burbot, which are species generally high on the bucket list of incoming ice anglers. The upcoming winter season will be Mulligan’s fourth as a guide at Bakers Narrows and he’s just as excited now as he was for his first ice fishing season.
Bakers Narrows offers an all-inclusive ice fishing outfitter option complete with pop-up shelters and gear or a DIY plan under which guests stay in one of the log cottages or micro cottages and bring their own equipment. Mulligan said a lot of guests come for a week during the winter as they are “specifically targeting big fish.”
“We can supply everything, but most people bring their own stuff,” Mulligan said.
With more experience comes a comfort level when fishing is such cold conditions, he added.
The beauty of connecting with the guides at Bakers Narrows is they will assist guests in finding the perfect scenarios to possibly land a trophy lake trout.
“It’s all about structure and food source and you have to be willing to locate those food sources and find those fish on structure,” he said.
Learn more at Bakers Narrows Lodge
Blackwater Cats Outfitters
While Donovan Pearase offers year-round guide service for various species on a variety of fisheries in southern Manitoba, the ice fishing portion, especially on Lake Winnipeg, has become the main focus on his Blackwater Cats Outfitter service.
The most popular species to target among his clients, by far, is the walleye in Lake Winnipeg. Known for the iridescent green coloring on their backs, believed to be due to the limestone substrate around the lake, the walleye in Lake Winnipeg have an immense amount of forage to feast on, allowing them to reach trophy-caliber sizes.
And Pearase is happy to help visitors haul monster walleye through the ice. From full-service ice fishing packages that include use of a Chevy Suburban equipped with tracks for better maneuverability, especially during the height of winter, to one-day guided trips, Pearase and his crew are eager to put guests on trophy fish.
“The key with Lake Winnipeg—and this has always been the case with it being a big featureless lake—is you have to find the bait, so you have to be willing and have the ability to be mobile,” he said.
Many of his customers come equipped with a fair amount of ice fishing experience and many bring their own gear, but he also can help beginners have a memorable time.
“We can offer anything you need,” he said. “Most of our clientele knows the deal – the more efficient and equipped they can be the better off they’ll be. Many guests are fully equipped, so we’ll put them on fish and have them move with us.”
Learn more at Blackwater Cats