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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Late winter - early spring ice fishing - March 2020

March 2020 has turned out to be one of my best ice fishing months ever. Surprise after surprise on nearly every outing, and lots of nice big ones caught, with some new species on ice as well.

Date: March 3 2020.
Weather: 8 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, 5 km/h North wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Took my friend Shaoul out in hopes of landing his first fish on ice. Headed back to a spot where I had caught some pike and big perch earlier this winter. Got to the lake, and decided to dissect a new area. We set our pike lines shallow, and jigged deeper in hopes of finding some schools of big perch. Unfortunately, no pike in sight, not much perch either for most of the day. Big surprise was landing 2 of 4 lake trout, very unexpected at 10-12 feet of depth near shore. All within 1 hour too.

We eventually found a few perch, ended up landing a dozen or so late in the day, with a few keepers.

Date: March 11 2020.
Weather: -3 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, 15 km/h North wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed back to the same spot to attempt to find schools of big perch again. Left the flag lines at home so I could be more mobile and cover more water. Again, perch were not easy to find, but I did manage to find some keepers every now and then.

Fortunately, perch weren't the only species after my jigging lures.

I caught a keeper sized pike on a tiny 1.5 inch kastmaster spoon.

Followed by my first ever chain pickerel, that hit a W5 jigging Rap.

As if that wasn't enough, I hooked into my biggest ever lake trout, that gave me a crazy fight on light perch tackle. At 30 inches and weighing over 8 lbs, Still can't believe I somehow landed it through a six inch hole!

Date: March 16 2020.
Weather: -5 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, 5 km/h wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed back to another spot for a shot at landing my first white perch on ice, after failing to do so back in February of 2019. White perch are actually a member of the bass family, related to white bass and striped bass, not perch. Regardless, they are quite rare in Quebec, existing in only a few waterways.

Got to my spot to find a couple ring necked pheasant wandering on the ice. First time I've ever seen that.

Using a jigging rod with a Rapala w3, and another rod deadsticking a double jig and worm rig, I ended up catching a few white perch, as well as some yellow perch.

Biggest of the white perch at 12 inches, over 1.5 lbs. Glad I got that species added to my ice list.

Date: March 19 2020.
Weather: 8 degrees Celsius, sun/cloud, 15-20 km/h South wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed to a new spot for the first time, searching for more white perch. Fishing was very tough, took me 5 hours to finally find a few good ones. While quantity was not there, the quality definitely was, with the 2 biggest at 13 and 14.5 inches.

Biggest one weighed in over 2 lbs! 

Taste test side by side with some yellow perch, we all preferred yellows. However, bass sized panfish make me think I need a bigger frying pan, and those white perch quickly becoming one of my favorite on ice, due to size and fighting power.

Date: March 22 2020.
Weather: -3 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, 10 km/h wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed back to the same spot with Ari, hoping to find some pike, while jigging for white perch. Despite setting our tip ups early, no pike in sight for six hours, and no white perch either. We did manage a bunch of perch and pumpkinseed sunfish, they were very aggressive at times.

Big surprise for me was hitting a few mid size largemouth bass, I didn't even know they existed in the lake we were fishing.

By mid afternoon, I decided to pull in the pike lines, so we could target more water with our jigging rods and flashers.

The move paid off, I started off catching this lunker of a bass, weighing nearly 4 lbs.

Finally, with less than and hour of daylight, Ari and I both managed to get a white perch each. Mine being significantly bigger at 14 inches / 2 lbs.

Should be a fun lake to try float tubing once the ice is gone and bass season open later in spring.

Date: March 24 2020.
Weather: 5 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, 5 km/h wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Last minute half day solo outing, decided to try my luck one last time for pike, closer to Montreal. Got my tip ups set around 11 AM. and started jigging for perch, white waiting for pike. Perch fishing was very slow, but around 1 PM, one of my flag went up. 

I set into what I imagined to be a large pike, the fight was intense. I was happy to have directly hand tied all my rigs and leaders instead of relying on store bought snap leaders. When I finally got the fish near my ice hole, I found myself hoping I could get it up the 8 inch hole. Things worked out, and I landed my first ever ice musky!

Measuring 46 inches and weighing 18 lbs, it is my biggest fish landed on ice in over 20 years of ice fishing!

What an epic way to end what has likely been my best season on ice, EVER!

Here are some fund facts / numbers recapping my ice fishing season:

38 Total ice outings since mid November 2019.
5000+/- km driven.
Roughly 1000 holes hand drilled.
4 new PB's on ice, including 3 first time species on ice, and 1 new species.
Biggest fish landed on ice for me to cap off the season.
Hands down my best ice season ever!

Hoping this Covid19 thing blows over quickly, and that everyone remains healthy enough to hit open water soon.

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