With frigid temperatures over the previous couple weeks, ice fishing season is just starting up in the Lakes District. While the larger lakes will still need some time before they are fishable, there are many small honey holes that will be ready. There are many different species of fish to target through the ice around here – lake trout, rainbow trout, burbot, kokanee and whitefish are all plentiful.
Ice fishing gear can range from the very basic, all the way up to extravagant. After decades of ice fishing, I like to think we toe the line of middle ground; we have gradually improved what we bring with us fishing.
Some of the very basics are a rod and reel, a couple jigs or lures and a manual ice auger. Nice-to-have items that we have added over the years are an ice fishing tent to help block the bitterly cold wind in February and a calf sled to pull all our gear from the truck out to the fishing hole. After all these years, we still have not upgraded from our manual auger, but there are many electric and gas-powered options out there that get more and more reasonably priced every year, so that is definitely on the Christmas wish list this year. Well worth the addition to your gear is a set of ice safety picks – they are incredibly affordable and a must have when out on the ice in case you fall through.
Only head out on the ice once you confirm it is safe to be on. The Canadian Red Cross website lists minimum ice thickness for different activities, such as walking on the ice alone, having large groups on the ice and for the safe operation of snowmobiles. Keep in mind that these guidelines are for clear blue ice; there are a variety of factors that can contribute to ice thickness. When we are unsure of the thickness of ice on a lake, we like to check the thickness in various spots as we make our way out. If in doubt, wait it out – no fish is worth going through the ice because you tried to head out too early.
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