Not only did we have the chance to hook into some incredible fish, but we were also able to share some time on the ice with owner and pro angler Bryan Bogdan. Bryan’s knowledge is incredible, so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn from him and share that knowledge with all of you.

In mid-November, we kicked off our ice season at Wekusko Falls Lodge. Located in the heart of Manitoba, Wekusko Falls is home to some of the best trophy walleye fishing in North America.

Below are his 5 best tips for catching more trophy walleye during early ice.


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Of course, the number one factor for success when on the water (either hard or open) is location. You can’t catch trophy fish if the trophy fish aren’t there. However, understanding what defines the right location is key. Bryan broke it down into one simple identifier – find the warmer water. This is important because fish are cold-blooded species, meaning their appetite and behavior is correlated with the environment around them.

First ice I always target midwater structure or structure near deep water – that’s pivotal. Because as the water is cold in the fall, those fish are going to depths in order to try to get to warm water. Or I go into the shallow bays that are a little bit stained, because that stained water will absorb heat from the sun – and keeps it naturally warmer” – Bryan

Therefore when breaking down a lake for first ice, we recommend you find areas of warmer water… aka:

  • Shallow Bays
  • Mid-Lake Structure


VMC walleye  tumbler spoon  falls at a slower rate

VMC walleye tumbler spoon falls at a slower rate.

Next is understanding lure presentation and it’s importance in catch rate this time of year. As previously mentioned, metabolisms are slow and fish can almost seem to be in “shock” from experiencing the rapid change to cold temperatures that accompany early ice. Therefore, slower presentations are a must.

“People don’t understand how much fall rate can affect the bite.”

Fall rate is essentially how fast the lure falls. Bryan specifically recommends spoons such as the Tingler, by VMC thanks to its shape and slow presentation.

“…something that is flat, that has lots of flutter and has a real slow fall…:

In general, look for a lure that is flat or built with a bend in it. If the fish are really aggressive you can get away with using more traditional spoons such as the rattle spoon. However, during those early ice periods – it’s important to try to slow it down first.

Recommended Lures:

Use NicoleStone10 at checkout for 10% off.


Early Ice Walleye Caught with VMC Tumbler.jpg

If you aren’t finding that adjusting the fall rate is effective, then consider downsizing your lures.

“I will go right down to 1/4 oz stuff. It’s amazing when you go small how many big fish you can connect on”

In fact, Bryan specifically mentions how big baits don’t always mean big fish. During early ice periods (or days when fish simply don’t bite) having something much smaller and slower can be the ticket to success.


horizontal Bait.jpg

Fresh bait doesn’t just apply to only live minnows. In northern Manitoba, where you can only use dead bait – we learned the value of keeping it fresh. By regularly replacing disintegrating and rotting minnows, we found we could catch walleye tenfold.

“You need to have fresh bait because these fish are in total shock – the metabolism has slowed down since they are in such cold water now. If that bait isn’t fresh they just don’t want it”.

When we were at Weksusko, we always kept an extra container of fresh minnows by our side out on the ice. Whether you are using live, dead, or fake bait – always take time to check your presentation. You want to make sure it’s fresh, orientated correctly, and simply still there. Doing this alone will improve your catch rate.


Trophy walleye caught on the Dangler Dead Stick at Wekusko Falls.

Trophy walleye caught on the Dangler Dead Stick at Wekusko Falls.

Of course, having a deadstick is no secret to most anglers. However, what many don’t understand is just how valuable it can be – even when limited to using only dead bait.

It’s important for two big reasons:

  • Two lines in the water is better than one
  • It’s a completely different type of presentation (sometimes not moving can be the best weapon)

When fish are in metabolic shock, and the bite can be tough, sometimes the best weapon you have is your deadstick.

“So many people think that the deadstick has to be done with live bait… {even with deadbait} If you let that bait sit there completely horizontal the fish will attack it.”

We, of course, experienced this first hand where a large majority of our fish came from the deadstick, including our largest fish. We were only using a small spoon and dead shiner (placed horizontally). It was that simple.


If you need any evidence that these tips work – then check out the video above. For nearly a week straight we setup in dirty bays or mid-lake humps where we absolutely hammered the walleye. Many times, a dead minnow on a dead stick was the ticket.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience world-class walleye fishing then be sure to learn more about Wekusko Falls here.

Interested in more fishing tips and tricks? Then be sure to check out walleye fishing:

About The Author

Co-founder of Ladies of Angling. Can be found chasing walleye, pike, and the occasional sunfish. Find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Watch me on YouTube.

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