For those who have the luxury of enjoying winter in beautiful BC, ice fishing on the frozen lakes in the BC southern interior is a popular pastime. With hundreds of lakes in the area, one is only limited by accessibility and regulations. Equipment and offerings (bait/lures/flies) are easy to obtain from most fishing & hunting stores and retailers across the province including many gas stations that keep a bait refrigerator stocked all year round.
Much like open water fishing, the ice fisherman can participate with a simple ice fishing set-up or graduate to the complications of motorized transportation and expanded technology. Novice ice fishermen usually start with a basic set-up and add to their inventory as the fever takes hold.
There are 4 major species targeted while ice fishing in the BC southern interior… rainbow trout, eastern brook trout, lake trout and kokanee. Matching hook size and equipment is directly related to the size of fish expected to encounter.
Here is a graduated list of equipment (necessary or optional) to enjoy this great Canadian recreation. One can make it as simple or as complicated as it gets. There are many additional accessories that can be found at retailers like Surplus Herby’s and Wholesale Sports, with outlets located throughout BC, staffed with knowledgeable and experienced sales people.
- line & hook - the simplest of set ups, just add bait
- rod and reel - an ice fishing rod & reel setup (and there are many types) is typical but one can use a modified spin fishing outfit for starters
- sinkers - helps get that bait down to the desired depth
- bait - worms, maggots, krill, mealworms, synthetic baits, ice fishing lures, artificial flies, etc
- axe - if an auger isn’t available, an axe can help open up previous drilled holes that sealed up overnight and only have a thin layer of ice
- 5 gallon plastic pail (or reasonable facsimile) - easy to carry, holds most gear and supplies and doubles up as a seat while fishing - fits well on a sled (see below)
- auger - although not entirely necessary, this tool makes life a lot easier and broadens one’s ice ability to not have to depend on accessing previous drilled holes… available in manual or power models
- rod holders - optional for hands free fishing
- sled / toboggan - optional - a sled with sides makes it easy to slide the gear/equipment from location to location as well as a storage container when not fishing
- ice fishing tent/hut - this is optional but with the new technology of pop-up tents available, this is a luxury that takes comfort in the elements to a whole new level + an ice fishing tent allows for superior visibility of the fishing column… it’s like night and day
- portable fish finder - optional high tech accessory used to spot fish and the depth at which they are feeding
- snowmobile/quad - optional the world is your oyster! be safe!
Note: many lakes are not open to ice fishing… always check the BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations for the specific body of water that will be fished. Know and abide by the catch limits. It's much easier for the local conservation officers to track down and charge offenders on the ice than in open water.
Of course, when playing out in the winter weather, dress appropriately with layers, good footwear, gloves/mitts, hat and sunglasses.