Ice-Fishing for Eastern Brook Trout

December 12, 2023
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Fishing for eastern brook trout can be a lot of fun in the winter. As they tend to perform better in low oxygen levels than some other species, brookies provide an excellent winter fishery.
Start by downloading the bathymetric (depth) maps from our “Where to Fish” menu. Look for locations where the lake is about 2.5 to 3.5 metres (eight to 10 feet) deep.

Sight-Fish for Brookies

An exciting way to fish for brookies in the winter is to sight-fish for them. While you can do this without an ice-fishing shelter or an underwater camera, these items can make it a lot more enjoyable on a blustery day. If you do not have an ice-fishing shelter, keep it really simple: set out a black garbage bag to keep yourself dry while you lay on the ice, and peer into your ice-fishing hole. Covering your head with your hood or another black bag blocks out all the light from above, and allows your eyes to acclimatize to the lower light levels in the depths below. This way you can see the fish take your lure, and watch how they behave.

Watch for the fish to bite.


For tackle, use an ultralight spinning reel loaded with 8-pound-test monofilament line matched to a light, softly tipped rod. Tie on a fly or jig of your choice. Try placing some bait (a mealworm, maggot, or cooked shrimp) onto the lure’s hook. Let your lure sink to the bottom; you should be able to see the lure once your eyes have adjusted.

Brook trout on ice. | Rod Hsu

Jigging Action

Lift the rod tip smartly with a quick twist of your wrist, and then drop it quickly to let the lure flutter back down. Use this jigging action to attract the brookies. Since you can observe your lure, you will be able to see the fish striking; now set the hook, and reel in!

Stocked Brook Trout

All brook trout stocked in B.C. are triploid. As triploid fish are sterile, they provide a better-quality fish since they can grow large. Stocking sterile fish is also important for conservation because they will be unable to spawn with wild fish. To find out where we have stocked brookies in B.C., check out our stocking reports.

Ice-Fishing Safety

To ice-fish safely, make sure that the ice is at least 30 centimetres (one foot) thick before fishing with a group, and at least 10 centimetres (four inches) thick if you are fishing alone. Remember to always let someone know where you are going.

Author: Staff, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Photo Credit: Rod Hsu & Justine Russo Photography