Fishing Through the Winter Months
There are still lots of good fishing opportunities to be found wherever you live in the province. Urban lakes in Metropolitan Vancouver and on southern Vancouver Island areas are still fishing well thanks to fall stockings of catchable-sized trout which are still actively feeding, and readily available to anglers both on shore and in boats. Winter steelhead fishing is now underway on numerous rivers both on Vancouver Island, and up and down the mainland coast.
Winter is upon us, and a day of ice fishing is a great family activity. Gearing up can be as simple as using monofilament hand-lines with bobbers, a sinker, and some bait. However, ice fishing rod-and-reel combos are very reasonably priced. So is the other terminal tackle needed to catch kokanee, rainbow trout, and brook char through the ice. There are literally hundreds of good ice fishing lakes found throughout the interior regions of the province that are easily accessible with the family car.
Don’t forget to pack some hotdogs and hot chocolate for a shore lunch to round out a day on the ice!!
The key to ice fishing is to find fish. That might mean drilling a number of holes across a wide distance. Sometimes trout don't move much, while at other times, they’ll cruise a large area.
Start your day of fishing in shallow water — 10 feet or less — over top of structure like weed beds or rocky points. Always put baits and lures within 12 inches of bottom, then move them up in the water column until hitting fish.
When looking through the ice, fish should be seen regularly. If you don’t see a fish after 20 minutes, it’s a good hint to move on to another hole. If needed, move right into the shallows, in water less than three feet deep, where you can sometimes catch fish just inches below.
If you don't want to lie on the ice and stare into the hole, try fishing with a bobber or tip-up. Use the smallest bobbers possible, which offer less resistance when a fish nibbles.
Ice fishing is safe winter fun if anglers prepare for special risks before heading out. As ice fishing is a stationary sport with little shelter on a lake, you are very vulnerable to wind chill, and layers of warm clothing are necessary. Insulated hats, gloves, and heavy winter boots can make all the difference when spending an entire day on the ice.
Anglers must pay attention to ice thickness, especially early in the season. Ice needs to be at least 15 centimetres (six inches) thick to safely to walk on, and should have a thickness of at least 45 centimetres (18 inches) to support the weight of a vehicle. Breaking through thin ice is often fatal.
To help keep fish alive through the winter, many area lakes are aerated. The aerators pour a stream of bubbles to oxygenate the water, but this action keeps the water around it from freezing. Anglers should stay well away from working aerators, and should never climb protective fences to fish the open water next to them.
Lastly, people don't need to kill every fish they catch; it's possible to release fish back into the hole in the ice.