When you live in northern BC and you love to fish, enduring the long, frozen winters can be particularly trying… unless, of course, you take to the frozen landscape and try your hand at ice fishing!
I was recently invited to spend a day in my dad’s buddy’s ice fishing shack to check out a local lake’s stock of kokanee, a landlocked sockeye salmon. (I’d love to tell you what lake it was, but fisherman’s code of honour won’t allow it; let’s just say it’s less than an hour north of Prince George!)
We were told the fish are hungriest in the morning, so we arrived at the lake by 9am and got the nickel tour of the shanty: benches, wood stove and holes in the ice. Perfect. I settled in with my thermos of spiked hot chocolate, bribed one of the guys to put the smelly bait on my hook, and lowered the line into the hole in front of me.
Twenty or so minutes passed, while I practiced jigging my line and listened to the old guys’ dirty jokes and stories of fishing from days gone by, until someone finally got a fish on. Shortly after, I felt the first tug at my line and quickly pulled it up, one hand over the other, and flung a flopping fish out the door onto the ice.
After freeing myself from the tangled mess I’d made with the fishing line, I lowered my hook again, only to immediately feel another pull. And then there was another. And the morning continued on like that, only slightly competitively, as we each took turns pulling up shiny kokanee and flinging them out of the hut to stay cold on the ice.
We took a break at lunchtime to dine on homemade sandwiches, enjoy the sun that had appeared and share our recipes for the kokanee dinners we would prepare that night. It seemed to be true that the fish were only hungry in the morning, for after lunch, the nibbles were few and far between. But I was satisfied – we’d caught about 18 fish between the three of us – well within our daily limits.
We packed up our bounty and trudged off the lake, looking forward to leaving the chill behind but happy with our success. With so many close lakes around the city of Prince George, there is a lot of opportunity to try out this winter pastime. There are plenty of sunny days, where the ice is thick and solid, that you don’t even need an ice shack (but it doesn’t hurt to know someone with one!).
Fishing in Prince George, BC