Guided Ice Fishing in Alberta Canada
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The summer fishing opportunities in Alberta, Canada can be unreal – a great spot as an example, is the fabled Bow River where fishers flock to from around the world to fish for trophy rainbow trout and brown trout. The question comes up though - what happens when summer fades and the weather turns cold?
Sometimes you can continue to fish through the end of October if you are willing to brave the cold and rain. For others, another opportunity opens in late December and January and extends often through the month of March - Guided Ice Fishing.
The winters in Alberta can be dangerous so never fish along if you do not know the area and the climate. To that end, there are many outfitters in Alberta and around the Calgary, Banff, and Edmonton area that will safely take you ice fishing. Reel Angling Adventures is one of those companies. They offer ice fishing adventures for two to ten anglers with professional guides and all of the gear you need.
The Basics of Ice Fishing
During the deeper part of winter and into very early spring, some of the best summer lakes freeze over - thick enough to safely fish them. When the ice is thick enough to safely fish, a hole is drilled in the ice and a fishing hut is placed over the hole. Reel Angling uses heated ice tents to make the experience comfortable and fun. The ice fishing season is generally considered January 1st through the end of March.
Trophy Fish are Still Biting
You may not think of ice fishing as an opportunity to catch a trophy fish but it is actually a great opportunity – big fish are still hungry. In fact, you can target big northern pike and walleye just like you would in the summer months. You also have access to yellow perch, burbot, and lake whitefish. On some lakes, you might even battle lake trout or rainbow trout.
By the way, we mean it when we say trophy sized fish. The records for ice fishing in Alberta include a 15+ pound walleye and a 38 pound northern pike. Sometimes you hit a rarity and might battle a big fat lake trout a species with a record while ice fishing of 52 pounds. For rainbow trout, the record is 20 pounds. The biggest fish in these waters is the sturgeon and the record sturgeon while ice fishing is 105 pounds.
These numbers are important because they really tell you what can be available. As you plan your fishing adventure, take these records in mind and work with your outfitter to plan a trip that helps you to target the type of fish you want to experience. Not everyone wants to battle a 38 pound northern pike, but they might enjoy bragging about a 25-pound bull trout. Just know that the options for ice fishing can rival those for summer fishing.
Ice fishing is something everyone who loves to fish should experience. These are generally single-day adventures and often will fit right into a business trip or family gathering itinerary. They even work well for small corporate team-building outings. Expect to spend 7-10 hours on the ice. The exact time varies with each outfitter and where you choose to fish.
A note on nice weather days - sometimes you hit a nice day of weather and you can fish outside of the hut so long as you are dressed appropriately. As it is with summer fishing, it is advised to dress in layers so that you are comfortable throughout your entire fishing adventures.Ice fishing is simply lowering a line through a hole in the ice. Unlike summer fishing, you rarely spot fish so you have to rely on bait, experience, and patience. The thrill is discovering what you've hooked and the intensity with which it fights you but you can have some idea going into your trip. We mentioned Reel Angling earlier, who fish around Edmonton and will take anglers to Calling Lake, Rock Island Lake, Fawcett Lake, and Baptiste Lake. You can expect northern pike in the 25-pound range on Baptiste Lake and ten-pound walleye. On Calling Lake the northern pike are slightly smaller in the 20-pound range but the walleye are larger in the 12+ pound range. Out on Fawcett Lake, you can target Northern Pike, Walleye, White Fish, Perch, and Burbot. Burbot is a freshwater cod. So, you can see that your location will affect size and species just like fishing in the summer months.
What You Should Bring
Generally, a good outfitter does just that - they outfit you for your adventure. In the case of Reel Angling, they provide all of the gear, the hut, professional guides, tackle, and bait. For full days of fishing, they even feed you a hot lunch.
What you should bring is warm clothing, sunscreen (yes, especially in winter) waterproof boots, UV sunglasses and, of course, a fishing license for Alberta.
It is also important to note that not every outfitter does such a thorough job of supplying you with everything you need for a positive experience. While most ice fishing outfitters do, some require that you bring your own fishing gear and tackle. So, be sure to understand exactly what you need to bring before you arrive.
It pays to do a little research before you choose a guiding service for ice fishing. There is no real reason why you cannot target most of the big fish that you would fish for in summer. Ice fishing allows you to extend the summer fishing fever to nearly all year long. Plus, it is an amazing way to get into fishing and a fairly unique experience. Most outfitters will teach you what you need to know and help you while your guide knows the lake, its fish, and how to target each species on that lake.