When the snow and temperatures start to fall some angler’s fishing season comes to an end, but for many others the hard water fishing seasons is just starting! The freezing temperatures bring the ice onto the lakes.
For most of the Interior lakes in BC the ice fishing season starts in mid December as the colder weather brings over 6 inches of hard ice. The beginning of the season offers some of the best fishing as the oxygen levels is still high in the water and the fish are still feeding.
Ice fishing offers great fishing opportunities to many anglers that may not have access to a boat in the open water season. No boat is needed in the winter and an angler can have much success with basic equipment that does not cost much money.
Gear: An angler can approach the sport of ice fishing from basic tools and techniques or with complex advance equipment and gear. Here is some basic equipment that an anglers needs to get started:
- Ice Auger
- Ice Fishing Rod
- Monofilament Ice rated line (Fluorocarbon tends to get brittle in the colder temps)
- Split Shot Weights
- Float (optional)
- Scoop to remove the ice pieces in the hole
- Folding Camping Chair
Bait: There are numerous types of bait an angler can use for ice fishing. Some of the most popular options are:
- Meal Worms
Clothing: While out on the lakes in the winter the weather can change very quickly so be prepared for all conditions.
- Rubber insulated boots. Non rubber boots are not as water resistant. Many times there will be a few inches of water on the surface of the ice.
- Fleece and Winter Shell Jacket – Dress in layers!
- Ski or Snow Pants that Repel Water.
Safety Equipment: As you can never be too safe on the ice always come prepared! The following is a list of basic safety equipment to bring with you. Always go with a friend, don’t go alone.
- Life Jacket or Safety Floatation Device
- Ice Awls
- Hand/Feet Pocket Warmers
- Warm drinks and High Energy Snacks to Keep you Fuelled Through the day
Avoid areas on the water that are fed by a streams or springs as the ice will be thinner and not as solid. Walk in single file when walking towards your holes.
Basic Techniques and Strategies: If you are not familiar with the lake before going out onto it, it’s a good idea to look at a lake map. Backroads books offers lake map books that charts the lakes very well. By having an idea of the lake layout before going out it will improve your chances to target a good area to your start drilling. Target areas with structure such as weeds, drop offs, fallen tress etc. Start off in shallow water first, approx 5 to 10 feet of water, and then slowly move out to the deeper water. Fish tend to feed in the shallow water in the winter.
When putting your bait into the water start about12 inches off the bottom. Most of the fish feed near the bottom and feed upwards. Jig the baits a few times in about 5 inch pulls, and then let it sit for a minute. By jigging the bait it will attract the fish to your hole. Smacking the bait against the bottom and pulling it back up again will also improve your odds in getting a bite.
Don’t be shy in drilling new holes if you are not getting any action within 15 to 20 minutes. The key to ice fishing is to find the fish! Later in the season this becomes even more of a challenge as the fish tend to move around a lot less.
Lakes to Target: There are numerous lakes in BC to ice fish. Some become more active than others in different times of the season due to Oxygen levels and water temps. It’s a good idea to always ask the bait/fishing shop of where the action is as most of the time they are in the know from other anglers. Please feel free to email the BC FISHN Team for more information and hotspots in your area to target.
Don’t let the cold stand in your way of a great day of fishing! Ice Fishing is a fun experience you can share with friends and families to get through the Canadian winters! Send us your pictures or post them on our Facebook wall.
Good Luck and Tight Lines!