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First Ice 2018/19

Ice fishing Frabill Recon tent/flip up/shanty

The 2018/19 ice fishing season begins! My first trip on the hardwater always begins on a trout pond as typically they are the first to freeze over. I heard rumors on the internet that eager anglers were starting to venture out so my friend and I decided to go check the conditions for ourselves.

Deciding on a lake was pretty easy. My Wild Alberta posted on Facebook a picture of a 12 lb tiger trout and said they released a very small number in a few stocked lakes throughout the province. A quick look at the stocking reports showed us where and we were off to Black Nugget Lake.

I am not a morning person, but when the morning holds the promise of fishing I feel like a kid at Christmas. I can hardly get to sleep and usually wake up before the alarm goes off. So when the morning finally arrived I loaded the truck and pulled out of the driveway at 6 am. The forecast for the day was fairly nice for this time of year, -7 C and overcast, with a small breeze from the south. We arrived at the lake at 7 am and took a few minutes to drill a test hole to find 6” of clear, hard ice. Off we went to our spot and had our holes drilled and rods rigged just as the sun was starting to come up, perfect timing.

Now I have been fishing Black Nugget for a number of years and the bite here is hard earned. Summer or winter I am skunked more often than not. Fortunately first ice seems to have the trout pretty hungry and it wasn’t long until we were hooked into our first Tiger of the year. 

I think between the two of us we caught and released 20 trout. The majority were tiger trout and almost all were first year stock. The largest fish of the day was a 14 inch rainbow and a 12 inch tiger. My favorite setup for trout on almost any lake is a small bright green dropper tipped with maggots. That is usually the first bait I try but during that first ice when the trout are aggressive I like to opt for something a little bigger. Today I used a 1/64th ounce Jim’s Jig with a black head and a dark red body and the trout were crazy for it!

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