Ice-fishing Friday: Prairie reservoirs have killer walleye and pike action. Here’s how to catch these reservoir hawgs


Walleye and pike will relate to even the most subtle main-basin humps


The reservoirs of southern Alberta, along with other similar manmade prairie lakes, are relatively featureless bodies of water. Because of this, fishing them requires some adjustments from the way you’d normally approach a natural lake. As with natural lakes, reservoirs do have underwater structure, such as weed lines, shallow bays, reeds and rocky shoals. However, those structures are sometimes quite subtle, and difficult to spot. They do hold fish, though, making them good places to start your hunt for reservoir hawgs.

My friend Gibson Tilley is a next-level angler who spends a lot of time fishing southern Alberta’s reservoirs. He notes that all flowing reservoirs have at least some current, especially near the inflows and outflows. Although fish may hold on any available structure in the lake, Tilley says they especially seek out structure in the currents. Fish holding near the bottom of such structures are usually in a negative or passive mood, he says, while fish holding higher up will usually be in a more positive feeding mood—and much more receptive to your presentations.


Main-basin humps are less common on these bowl-like reservoirs, but if you can find them, fish will often be lingering nearby. For example, one of the best ice-fishing spots I’ve found on Lake Newell is a hump in less than six feet of water, close to an island. I use the term “hump” loosely, because rather than a dramatic structure, it’s only a minor variation from the flat bottom. Nonetheless, it often holds big pike and walleye. One of the best ways to identify such locations is by studying bathymetry maps prior to hitting the ice.