Ice Fishing In Alberta – Your Need To Know Info

Posted on: September 20, 2017

Pretty soon the thousands of bodies of water that give the Lakeland its name will have frozen over for the next six months or more—that means it’s time for ice fishing in Alberta! During this time fishing fans have to radically change their approach in order to indulge in their hobby—and are forced to take a lot of safety measures that they wouldn’t otherwise.

If you want to get started in ice fishing in Alberta then you’ll need to bear the following in mind:

1. Safety First

it’s pretty hard to end up in the water when you’re sitting at the side of a lake, and if somehow you do take a plunge you’re likely to be at a shallow shoreline. When ice fishing there’s just a few inches of ice between you and deep, freezing water. Before you head out it’s important to have safety equipment: many ice fishers wear metal cleats on their boots to prevent slipping on the ice and carry life preservers, whistles, and specialist items like ‘ice spuds’- metal poles with serrated ends that allow you to test the ice ahead of you.

2. Keeping Warm

You might be lucky enough to be able to get a luxury ice cabin with heating, ovens and a beer fridge, but more likely than not you’ll have to make do with a simple pop-up shelter to keep the wind out and retain heat. You’ll need insulated, waterproof clothing, gloves and good quality boots to make the most of your trip, and don’t forget to carry a thermos of hot coffee or soup.

Some ice fishers head out onto the ice in pick-up trucks, allowing them to duck into the cabin to heat up. Clearly, a one-tonne pickup should only be used on the thickest ice and with plentiful safety equipment.

4. Rods And Traps

Because you’ll be in a small space, ice fishing rods are much shorter than regular fishing rods- usually around two feet. These should be fine for smaller fish, but if you want something to hang above the fireplace then you’ll need a tip-up—a trap that suspends a large piece of bait below the ice. When a fish takes the bait a flag on the trap pops up and you know that it’s time to pull the line in by hand. The advantage here is that tip-ups are ‘set and forget’, and you can place multiple tip-ups on a lake. Different lakes and areas have different limits on how many tip-ups you can set so be sure to research these before you set out on your trip to go ice fishing in Alberta.

5. Breaking The Ice

Obviously, you’ll need to get through the ice and into the liquid water below. In the early season, when the ice isn’t so thick, you can use the ice spud to (carefully) chip away at the ice. Later in the season, you’ll need to bring along an auger or even a motorized ice drill. How wide the auger should be depends on what size of fish you’re looking to catch. Be warned, a large diameter auger is a lot of work to use, so consider a motorized version if you’re looking to bring home a big fish.

6. Testing The Ice

Check with Alberta Outdoorsmen Forum or bait shops to find out when conditions are right. The rule about ice thickness is: two inches will support an adult human, six inches will support a snowmobile and ten inches can support a pickup truck. It’s best to err on the side of caution- wait until the ice is three or four inches thick before heading out on foot, particularly in late or early season, when ice is soft and likely to crack. Avoid rivers completely- flowing water doesn’t form strong ice, even when it’s thick.

Ice fishing in Alberta can be a fun, relaxing time with the right equipment—and plenty of hot drinks. Check out our Ice Fishing page to learn more about where to ice fish in the Lakeland along with the types of fish available in each lake!

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