Ice, Ice Baby: Ice fishing on Lake Winnipeg

Try ice fishing this March for its Canadiana or purely for the food

Photo by Michael Himbeault on Flickr.
Photo by Michael Himbeault on Flickr.

March Madness is upon us. Down in the United States, the month is all about basketball and coaches screaming from the sidelines. But up here in central Canada, it means something very different: ice, ice baby, as in ice fishing.

Mother Nature starts to back off just a little. She’s done casting cold on our lakes and rivers here in Manitoba, but not before there’s a solid five feet of the stuff beneath our boots. The sun shines and we’re able to emerge from our temporary ice shelters and soak in the warmth, as long as we’re on the south side and out of the wind. The water temperature starts to rise and that gives the fish a little more energy. They’re looking for food, and little do they know, so are we. Yes, the bite is on!

But like any hardwater angler will tell you, ice fishing isn’t really about the fish. It’s about getting outside, sharing stories in the shack and more than anything else, the food.

Rule no.1: always bring backup food. It would be terribly bad karma to count on fish for lunch. Nine times out of 10, you’ll catch something, but you just can’t take that chance.

Let’s start with breakfast. Make things easy by prepping overnight oats and using disposable aluminum containers that can take the uneven heat of a woodstove or propane heater. For lunch, chili is always a good option, served in the hot chocolate mugs from breakfast. Wrap a loaf of garlic bread in foil and let the aroma waft throughout the shack.

Of course, your day on the ice has resulted in some eaters—walleye of the appropriate size for the lunch special. Deep fry is the way to go. For this task, some anglers make a bit of an effort, hauling along a generator to power the deep fryer. Filet your fish, cut them into chunks and toss them in your favourite breading.

There are two critical details when it comes to frying fish: 375 F and four minutes. Nail those two things, and you’ll be serving some of the most delicious bites your crew has ever tasted.

Here's our menu:

Overnight cinnamon oats

Smokehouse chili

Deep-fried hardwater walleye chunks


Photo by Michael Himbeault on Flickr.