The Kenora region of Northwest Ontario is a very popular place to visit in the summertime. Many Manitobans make the two hour drive east to enjoy the clear water beaches, scenic campgrounds, and fantastic fishing opportunities. The scenic Canadian Shield topography is also a nice change-up from the flatland existence we enjoy here in the Red River valley. Not enough people however, take advantage of the wintertime outdoor activities that this area has to offer. Hiking on cleared trails, cross-country skiing, tobogganing parks, and snowmobiling are just some ways to enjoy ‘Sunset Country’ from a totally different angle.
Over the past few seasons I have started to frequent different areas on Lake of the Woods to ice fish. For an ice fishing enthusiast like myself, this area offers a different experience from the hardwater locations closer to home. Snow covered pine trees lining the shoreline, clear water, and occasional visits from the resident wildlife are just some ways that make these trips different from a trip to say Lake Winnipeg. Walleye, perch, and whitefish are plentiful but, the hard fighting Lake Trout that call Lake of the Woods home have quickly become my favourite species to target in the wintertime.
A typical ‘Laker’ trip is not about quantity but rather about quality. Each angler on average will only ice about two or three trout in a day’s fishing. The adrenaline rush from first seeing the fish on the electronics, to the ‘sack of bricks’ slam, to the drag screaming back and forth battle, to the moment its big head emerges from the hole however, are more than enough to satisfy event the most seasoned angler’s fix.
We access this fishery by driving onto the ice road network that is carved out every year by the local cottage associations and municipalities and then hike out to any likely spots. A two-hour drive there and another two-hour drive back can be a bit long for a daytrip but if you head out with a good crew of people it can make for some good times. A full vehicle also helps with splitting up fuel costs.