In a bold attempt to stretch out the 2016-2017 hardwater season for as long as possible we had loaded the ice gear into the truck and headed north to Gull Lake for a shot at some Walleye and Whitefish. Typical warm spring conditions experienced in the south and east of the province made most of the ice un-fishable to all but the foolhardy.
We met up with Rick at the launch point where he loaded his gear into the truck and then with a finger pointing out across the lake he said “that way”. A thick layer of fog made the journey on ice a little bit stressful considering we couldn’t see too much ahead of us and that there had been some discussions about pressure cracks near to where we wanted to be fishing.
We eventually got onto a well travelled ice road in the direction we were heading and we thought we even saw a flicker of tail lights in the distance. We knew that we were not the only people taking advantage of the late season ice conditions but we had no idea just how many until the fog quickly burned off as the morning sun rose.
It didn’t take us long to start marking and catching the odd fish but we certainly weren’t converting all the fish that came to check out our lures. We did manage to catch a few Walleye, Whitefish and even a couple Yellow Perch. Rick took home the trophy for the smallest fish caught when he hooked a minnow on a Northland Buckshot Flutter Spoon! Yes, it was hooked in the mouth and successfully released.
There had been a plan to keep a few Whitefish for the smoker but we kept letting them go because we considered them a bit on the “small” size. As we watched other anglers throughout the day it seemed that any size was a good size to keep and without fail, everything we saw landed got bonked and taken home.
We have no complaints about our last day on the hardwater even though it was a slow Walleye day but we manage to ice fish up to the last weekend of March, fishing on 2′ of solid ice in the warmth of a bright sunny day.
Regardless of how long the hardwater season was for us in Alberta this year, when it comes to an end there is always a melancholy that will linger for a few weeks after the ice rods are hung up and the tackle finally stowed away. At least for one of us!