Don’t Freeze their Eyeballs and Gills

For those fortunate to live in the parts of British Columbia where lakes freeze over every December, ice-fishing with friends and family is a great winter activity.
In general, many of the proper fish-handling tips that we covered in our article from this past summer still apply. While the risks associated with releasing fish during summer’s warm water temperatures no longer exist, freezing temperatures can still impact the survival rates of fish that are released through holes in the ice. 

In sub-zero weather, when water can freeze in seconds, it is important to protect a fish’s sensitive eyes and gill filaments. If possible, avoid exposing those parts to the freezing air by unhooking and releasing your fish in the water, or releasing your fish headfirst into the hole. If a fish is so big that you need to bring it out of the water in order to turn it around, or if you want to take its photo, try to keep it out of the water for as little time as possible.

If you have any doubt whether the fish will survive release, plan to keep it as part of your allowable catch.

Wishing you a safe and happy hard-water fishing season.

Author: Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Staff
Photo Credit: Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Staff