Ice Fishing the Fishing Highway

5 am, alarm goes off. I think to myself, “should I hit snooze, or sleep in?” at the same time I remember that feeling when a fish takes my bait and I pull it up through the ice, so I get out of bed. My friends and I have three short days in Clearwater, BC to explore the ‘Fishing Highway’.

I begin the process of gearing up for a day on the ice. Starting off by going over my packing list:

  • Long johns, base layer, wool sweater, snow pants and snow jacket
  • Gloves, toque, heat pockets, snow boots and sunglasses
  • Ice auger, ice scoop, depth sounder
  • Fishing rod and reel
  • Flasher, flutter spoon, UV rattle spoon, UV jigs and split shots.
  • Bait: shrimp, and homegrown live worms
  • Camp chair, BBQ, hotdogs, water and a thermos of hot coffee

Feeling ready, I grab some breakfast, start warming up the car and we make the drive to our fishing spot for the day. Arriving at the lake we load up the sled and trek through the snow on to 14 inches of ice. A tingly feeling jolts through me as the excitement of ice fishing builds. There is something about boating on a lake one season and walking on it the next that exhibits a true Canadian experience for me.

Finding our spot, we begin to unload and use our hand auger to drill the first hole. Using a hand auger to drill through 14 inches of ice is exhausting and never fun, but with the excitement of fishing in mind we make it through quickly. All set and baited up the first line drops, BOOM! Instantly my friend yells “FISH ON!”. In disbelief I watch her pull up a beautiful 12-inch rainbow trout. Excited by the prospect of more to come she releases this one. We check the fish finder to see that fish are being read at 5ft., 10ft., 14ft. all the way down to 30ft. Soon after, a double header for my friend and I. After that the hits continued to come fast and furious. By the time lunch rolled around we had nearly reached our possession limit of fifteen, five trout each. After a quick bite to eat we got back to it and reached our limit for the day. We packed up the sled hauled back to the truck to make the drive back into town.

Reflecting on the day I was happy how well the gear I brought worked. The UV flasher with a UV jig underneath it proved its success yet again. Even though there is a large amount of sunlight penetrating the ice I prefer using UV flashers and jigs. ‘Shiny’ flashers do not give off a great sparkle under the ice. UV reflecting flashers on the other hand are designed to ‘glow’ in conditions with low direct sunlight where ultraviolet light can still reach. These flashers or jigs have a specially formulated pigment that reflects ultraviolet light giving them a ‘glow’. This will attract fish from a further distance as well as induce a strike. When bait fishing for trout I like using natural baits when possible, always check regulations. In my experience the scent and visual effect natural bait gives off proves to be superior over most plastic baits.

Now, off to the smoker to smoke some fresh trout to enjoy during the weeks to come.

I like to use this recipe, per 1 lbs of trout. The cayenne pepper gives the sweet tasting fish a bit of a spicy kick.

  • 3 cups of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

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~Tobias Roehr


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