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2012-2013 Ice Annual

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N MANITOBA LAKE WINNIPEG the current areas that attract and hold walleye on Lake Winnipeg can be productive. There's no doubt that fishing JASON HAMILTON Jason is a professional angler and Lake Winnipeg expert. Jason has mastered the big waters (or ice) of Lake Winnipeg — seen as one of the top current destina- tions for ice anglers — and spends a lot of time teaching others about his successful ways. Armor's Extreme Suit. The system is lightweight and designed to keep the cold out while dispersing any heat that builds up while drilling holes and moving around on the ice, which keeps him comfortable at all times. When winds howl and the tem- peratures become too bitter to face the elements without cover, Hamilton uses a Clam Bigfoot 4000T Pop Up Shelter to help him stay warm and stay mobile while chasing green. He prefers this style of shelter because it is lightweight and easy to handle when setting up and taking down, and the thermal material works wonders at holding in the heat on cold days. In Lake Winnipeg, walleye school up and follow baitfish that roam the basin in search of plankton. If an causes huge gyres to form, with back eddies heading north and com- ing back down the east and west sides of the lake. These large-scale current movements are the drivers for fish movements and migrations throughout the winter. As plankton and baitfish ride these currents, so too do the walleye. The movement is in a counter clockwise fashion on the west side of the lake and a clockwise direction on the east side of the lake. inflowing water angler fishes blindly or without any understanding of the system, finding walleye can be compared to finding a needle in a haystack, because the fish can be here today and gone tomorrow. To turn the odds in his favor, Hamilton has learned to under- stand and utilize the effects of underwater currents in the south- ern basin of the lake. He explains that the southern basin of the lake takes inputs from the natu- rally flowing Red and Winnipeg rivers. This Having this knowledge of the lake and its under ice currents gives Hamilton great starting points for each outing. It also allows him to make educated moves in search of walleye instead of random guesses. Having this knowledge and follow- ing the baitfish means that sooner than later, he'll school of walleye. There's no doubt that fishing the current areas that attract and hold walleye on Lake Winnipeg can be productive. However, Hamilton is quick to point out that there are locate a hungry other places and methods to be suc- cessful on the big featureless flats of this lake. He recommends that anglers focus on above ice structures to help guide them in their search for places to fish for walleye. Throughout the season, driving winds and fluctuating temperatures will move the ice around on this giant lake. When the ice gets moved around it heaves, forming visible jag- ged-shaped ridges. What Hamilton has discovered is that what you see above the ice also occurs below the ice and these underwater ridges form instant underwater structures. Given that this is often the only struc- tural element available and that such structure limits light penetration to the lake, baitfish key on such areas and are quickly followed by hungry walleye. As a result, Hamilton rec- ommends working along the edge of a ridge and following the ridge until walleye are located. When work- ing these ridges, Hamilton never assumes the ice is safe and drills his way to the ridge. He always wears icepicks and has a rope on hand for a rescue. Another tip Hamilton suggests is looking for an area with a deep drift of snow. The deep snow will block light and attract both baitfish and walleye. As an added bonus, fish using the areas under a snow drift seem to bite more actively through- out the day. The tactics Hamilton uses are great for fishing the frozen waters of Lake Winnipeg. These tactics can also be used to fish smaller lakes closer to home. THE ICE ANNUAL << ICE TEAM.COM 11 C A A D A

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