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Trip Report – March 15, 2020

big male rainbow trout ice fishing

It’s finally March! As the ice and snow start to melt the ice fishing action should start to heat up. This past weekend I made the long drive to one of the best tiger trout lakes in the province. Tiger trout are relatively new to Alberta and were introduced to the stocking program back in 2015. By crossing a female brown trout and a male brook trout you end up with a colorful and feisty fish.

20" Tiger trout from Alberta
20″ Tiger trout from Alberta

When I arrived, I was surprised to find only one other vehicle parked on this popular lake. Since I’ve only been to this lake once before, a quick study of Google Maps showed a sandy point that dropped off to deeper water near the launch. That’s as good a place to start as any so I set a waypoint and ventured out on the ice.

Since Google maps isn’t perfect, I cut a series of holes from where I thought the drop off was leading out to deeper water. In my first hole I found only 4ft of water, 6ft in the next, then 7ft and finally 8ft. Finding the drop is step one. Step two is identifying any underwater features. Since the water was so clear and shallow I could have covered my head with my coat and looked down the hole but luckily I brought a pocket sized Aqua Vu camera to make the search easier. In the first hole all I found was milfoil, the second had a mix of milfoil and big rocks, the third was only big rocks and the fourth turned into smaller rocks and sand. It’s not always this easy to find a key structure, believe me!

It was a very cold morning but the wind was low and the sun surprisingly warm. So I took my time setting up some rods and tested the second and third holes before setting up my tent. My first trout was caught in the third hole just a few minutes into fishing and I marked another in the second hole shortly before. That’s as clear a sign as any that this is the spot, so in between holes two and three I popped up the tent, drilled a few more holes and turned the heat on.

In our region, it’s not uncommon to have over 30” of ice at this time of year. So when I measured 24” of ice I was a bit surprised. Maybe we get lucky and open water fishing comes a bit early!

Early in the ice fishing season I found some fingerless ragg wool gloves from MEC and bought them on a whim. It turns out these are the best cold weather fishing gloves I’ve ever had! They keep my hands pretty warm, even when they are wet. And because they are fingerless I can still tie on lures and bait hooks without taking them off. You should seriously consider getting a pair or two before they are gone. But don’t do what I did in this picture and handle fish with them on, that’s poor practice.

Ragg wool gloves from MEC
You shouldn’t handle fish with gloves on!

As the morning wore on I managed to catch a few more fish. One was an impressive 20” tiger trout and my last fish of the day was a new PB 21” rainbow! The rainbows were aggressive and were attacking my balanced leeches but the tigers were quite lazy. They would lethargically bump my lure or just swim up, sniff and turn away. Isn’t it usually the other way around?

tungsten balanced leech
A black tungsten balanced leech, tied by yours truly!

Trout may be my favorite fish to catch. It’s hard to articulate what it is about them that makes it so much fun. They always put up a good fight, are so fickle that they are always a challenge, and very delicious in the winter. But that’s not really it, I guess I just like to get to know them.

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