End of Season Special: Is There Ice Fishing in BC?

Can you actually go ice fishing in British Columbia? Isn’t winter fishing there all about steelhead streams and feeder chinook?

Well, contrary to the belief of many Western Canadians, you can ice fish in BC. And with only a week left in the season (in most places), it’s time to dispel the myth once and for all with the Top 5 ice fishing locations in BC:

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  1. Irish Lake, located about 25 km southeast of 100 Mile House, offers fantastic rainbow trout fishing between mid-November and late April. Access this lake by turning east of Highway 97 onto Highway 24, drive about 17 km to the community of Lone Butte; Irish Lake is about three kilometres past the townsite. A relatively small lake of less than 70 acres in size, use a simple sinker-hook-worm (or maggot) setup, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try dropping down a fly, such as a Bunny Leech — jig lively and wait for the five-pound trout to hit! (Note: watch for thin ice, due to aerators.)
  2. In the Kootenays, Whiteswan Lake attracts many ice anglers. Although it is closed from December 1 to January 2, there are a few months of prime hard-water fishing for rainbow and brook trout thereafter. In fact, the rainbow fishery is world-class, with 10,000 Gerrard rainbows being stocked in that water annually — and the daily limit of these hard-fighters is two. To access, head east from the town of Canal Flats along the Whiteswan Forestry Road — about a 27 km trip from the townsite.
  3. Canim Lake, located northeast of 100 Mile House, is a large waterbody with big rainbow and lake trout, kokanee and burbot. To find this 14,000-acre lake, head north from 100 Mile House on Highway 97, then turn east on Forest Grove/Canim Lake Road and drive north for about 30 km until you find the lake. Mobility will be your friend on this monster, but the up to 25-pound lakers and feisty rainbows will make it worthwhile. Or try your luck on kokanee or burbot — there’s a five-per-day limit on each of these fish! Bring a snowmobile or ATV for the best results. Canim Lake has numerous resorts as well, many of which offer year-round accommodation.
  4. Northern BC’s One Island Lake is located on the Alberta Plateau, about 60 km southeast of Dawson Creek — to access, take Highway 2, east of Dawson Creek for 30 km and look for the provincial park signs. On this 145-acre lake, expect to find abundant stocked brook and rainbow trout. While both species can be caught year-round, the brookies tend to dominate the winter months. And how big are they? Locals report that 14 to 16-pound trout are hauled out of that waterbody every year!
  5. Another Cariboo lake that turns on when the weather cools off is Big Bar Lake, located northwest of Kamloops. To access, head west from Kamloops on Highway 1 for about 75 km, to Cache Creek. Then, turn north onto Highway 97, and continue on for 50 km until your get to Big Bar Lake Provincial Park. A medium-size waterbody, its 566-acres allow for many ice anglers to fish comfortably. With worms, maggots or Berkley Powerbait on the hook, rainbow trout to five pounds (or burbot) are sure to follow!

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