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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ice fishing Quebec, pike, perch, trout - February 2020

Due to both weather conditions and an 8 day - mid February trip to Dallas to fish open water in warmer weather, I ice fished less than usual in February. Continuing with my new blog theme, here is what February ice fishing in various regions of Quebec looked like in 2020.

Date: February 2nd 2020
Weather: -3 degrees Celsius, mix of cloud and snow, 15 km/h North wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed out to ice fish for trophy pike with Ari. The lake we chose to fish does not have a big pike population, but there are some very big trophy sized pike in that lake. We took along Ari's 10 inch Jiffy ice auger, not wanting to take any chances with smaller holes. Once you finally get that pike of a lifetime, last thing you need are difficulties with an ice hole that isn't big enough to land it. That being said, the low pike population in that lake typically results in 1 or maybe 2 pike per day on ice if you are lucky enough.

We set our frozen mackerels baited on quick strike rigs, as usual. We then kept 2 lines to jig for perch using my Humminbird and his Marcum flasher, while waiting for the pike to bite. As usual, I brought along a manual auger for me to enjoy, and get a good workout while I fish. I chose my 6 inch Fin bore for this outing, my hands down favorite, and perfect for perch.

Although we caught some perch in that lake before, we were pleasantly surprised the numbers of perch on our spot. We ended up jigging well over 100 perch, with 28 keepers. We released over 90 perch under 8 inches, and a few bigger perch that had visible worm/grub infestations. The perch we kept were clean / parasite free, and ended up making a delicious dinner for the rest of the family.

Unfortunately, no trophy pike came to play, not even any tripped flags. However, the surprisingly good perch ice fishing left us feeling better.

Date: February 5th 2020
Weather: -7 degrees Celsius, sunny, 12 km/h West wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed out for another shot at ice fishing trophy pike in another region of Quebec with my friend Warren. This particular lake yields some real trophy sized pike every season, though most that fish there tend to target perch or smelt on ice. The lake also contains some brown trout, and a healthy population of lake trout, which happened to be closed tp fishing during the winter.  As such, the manual auger I brought along for this outing, was my 8 inch Nils Master. Figured I'd give the newly sharpened cutting head a workout, as well as myself. No sense in risking losing a decent brown or lake trout to an ice hole that is inadequate.

Our plan was similar to the previous outing, I set the pike lines, while Warren jigged in hopes of locating schools of big perch. We fished and placed the pike lines at new spot that I had never been to on this particular lake, so we weren't sure what to expect. Again, the HT polar tip ups were baited with frozen mackerel.

The pike fishing was very slow. About 1.5 hours into the outing, a smaller pike tripped a flag. I gave Warren a shot at it, he hooked the pike. Unfortunately, he lost it near the hole, when the pike ran into the ice and caught the quick strike rig under the ice hole. No more pike for the rest of the day.

Perch were not easy to find either. I did manage 4 perch, as well as a couple smelt, which I kept and froze for pike bait. The nice surprise of the day occurred mid morning. I was trying to tempt some perch into biting with the help of my flasher, when suddenly, they all disappeared. Seconds later, a big mark came off the bottom, and clobbered the mini 1.5 inch Swedish Pimple spoon I was jigging.

Though unintentional and purely accidental, a respectable lake trout put up one of the best fights I've experienced on a jigging rod on ice. Lake trout have a higher tolerance for very cold water. They a faster, quicker and thrive in ice cold water, more so than any other species we have in this region.

A few minutes later, Warren grabbed the lake trout as I carefully maneuvered it's big head up the ice hole. Turned out to be the biggest lake trout I've caught on ice to date, at 28 inches / 7.25 lbs.

Nice mint condition fish, it was released unharmed and in top condition after a short weigh in and picture.

As a side note, I do plan on eventually going down to Vermont or New York state to attempt to legally target lake trout at some point. Some of the lakes there have lake trout weighing 20+ lbs. Though chances at landing a lake trout of that size on ice a very slim, I can safely say that I'll opt for 10 inch ice holes, after seeing how this smaller one just fit in my 8 inch ice hole.

February 13 to February 20, 2020:

Took a break from ice fishing, headed down to Dallas, Texas to fish for buffs (smallmouth buffalo).
Read more about my trip at:

Tuesday February 25th, 2020.
Weather: 5 degrees Celsius, sunny, 10 km/h wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

For my first ice fishing outing since getting back from my week of fishing in Dallas, I decided to try a new spot for landlocked salmon, and rainbow / brown trout on ice. I had been itching to try out a Panoptix sonar at this spot, as fish are far and few in between. Unfortunately, my friend was not able to pick it up before the outing, so we were stuck using standard flashers.

We got quite a late start, drilled first hole around 11 am. We jigged suspended near the surface over deep water, using a variety of lures, and dead sticked some live worms as well. Nothing doing, no fish in sight.

I moved shallower shortly after noon. Eventually found a hole that had an aggressive fish chasing my jigging rap up to the surface a few times. After a good 20 minutes, I switched lures to a tiny 1 inch kastmaster spoon tipped with both a mealworm and tiny birth of earthworm. The aggressive fish came up took the lure on my first drop.

I managed to get a quick glimpse of a big silver fish darting around under my ice hole, but unfortunately it spit the hook within 5-10 seconds. Based on the shape and color, most likely a rainbow trout. Looked to be 18-20 inches long under water, but when you factor in magnification, I'd guess 16 inches or so. Would have been nice to land it, but sometimes, the fish win. That was the only fish I hooked all day, didn't mark much else either except for a few smelt and possibly a small lake trout deeper down towards the end of the day.

That ends my month for February 2020. Only made it out onto the ice 3 times this month, but I did manage to put in 7 days of open water fishing in Texas, and landed some good buffs to make up for it.

As we get into March, I'm hoping to stock up on some eating sized pike and some big perch. A nice trophy wouldn't hurt either. Hoping safe ice holds up until the season ends on March 31st.

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