Open water at Echo lake makes for safe fishing from the dock. Photo by Don Daniels

Open water at Echo lake makes for safe fishing from the dock. Photo by Don Daniels

Ice fishing is only a memory here on Vancouver Island

By Don Daniels

When it comes to ice fishing across the country, I am a believer that, for the most part, it’s an alternative to winter recreation activity on lakes that are located in the colder provinces from the prairies and east to Ontario.

In some cases, ice fishing sales for augers, ice scoops and even rods, reels and other miscellaneous tackle is lucrative for retail dealers. I have ice fished in Saskatchewan, Alberta and here in British Columbia.

The weather around Campbell River can get cooler and even when we get to minus 6 degrees overnight, it really is not cold enough to get a layer of ice on local lakes like Echo or Spectacle Lake near the Malahat. Higher elevation lakes in Strathcona Park will ice over but there are obstacles. Logging roads are snow covered and some roads are gated.

There are some trout guys that will go out, fish from shore for an afternoon and call it a day. An alternative to ice fishing is to get good neoprene waders and fish the local rivers for catch and release trout. Some lakes have a bait ban so the ardent anglers who want to keep a trout will not fish at lakes that bait is banned, such as Roberts Lake

In Alberta, when the cold weather hits the province, the ice shacks are on the move to various lakes and they settle in for the winter to catch perch, pike, walleye and burbot. Since they still are avoiding crowds, ice fishing can be a family event to pass the time during COVID-19.

Alberta has new regulations for ice shacks to be marked clearly with the owner’s name and telephone number and any ice shack has to be removed on a certain date. In the past, some anglers would move an ice shack on the lake and leave it or even burn it down and let it sink. An ice shack can easily hold two people and once the holes are drilled, at even three feet of water, egg shells were put at the bottom to give more visibility to what fish was coming around to take the bait.

We used to ice fish in northern B.C. and we simply used a monofilament line and used shrimp pieces for bait to catch small trout. There are a number of guys that worked with me in Alberta and Saskatchewan and through social media asked me to come and visit after COVID-19.

I simply stated: “No, thank you.” and they said: “Well, invite us out to salmon fish in Campbell River.”

Back in Alberta, I found that fly fishing for perch was really a lot of fun and it took a while to find out what they were going after in shallow water. Two patterns that really caught perch was the Professor, and in bigger bodies of water, the Green Montana was the go-to fly. Pike went after streamer patterns.

Let’s hope for better fishable weather here in Campbell River and leave the ice fishing anglers on the mainland and in the prairie provinces.