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East Kootenay Ice Fishing

By Michele Leyenaar
Editing by Joanne Elves

CRANBROOK – Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean people aren’t outside enjoying everything the Koots has to offer.

And just because there is ice – doesn’t mean the fish aren’t biting!

Ice fishing is very popular among locals and visitors. It’s a true Canadian experience. Where else can you stand on top of a frozen lake, drill through a foot of ice to drop in a fishing line, then enjoy the view and the fresh air as fish deep under the ice jump for your bait? Ya just have to try it!

All you need is your regular fishing gear (of course you can get special ice fishing gear), warm clothes, maybe a shelter and either an axe or an ice auger to chop or drill through the ice. (Don’t forget your fishing licence either).

There is no limited supply of areas to go ice fishing near Cranbrook. A few of the popular winter spots are among the same popular summer fishing choices: Premier Lake, Moyie Lake, Whiteswan Lake, Stoney Lake, Peckhams & Norbury Lakes, Whitetail Lake, Lake Windermere, Lazy Lake and a few other secret gems that the local fishermen might let you know about.

A few safety tips

Ice on rivers can be very unsafe and river banks can be very unstable. River ice fishing is not recommended without proper gear and expertise. Even ice fishing on lakes can be very unsafe. Be sure to watch for differences in ice colour and open water areas including springs or moving water.

A minimum of 3 inches of ice is recommended for one person on foot. However, it’s always a good idea to not go alone. Check for a recommended ice thickness chart, popular forums and lots of other information.

Also, be sure to  check local regulations and local weather forecasts.

More great safety info and ice fishing tips can be found at GoFishBC, Mountain Man Outdoors  and BCFishn

So, what’s on your hook?

Stoney Lake – located northeast of Kimberley is stocked with rainbow trout.

JimSmith Lake – located just west of Cranbrook is a popular spot to hook rainbow and largemouth bass.

Peckhams Lake – located East of Cranbrook towards Fort Steele is also stocked with rainbow. Just to the South of Peckhams Lake is Norbury Lake Provincial Park and Campground. You’ll find cutthroat trout waiting in that lake.

Moyie Lake – is a large lake located 25 minutes west of Cranbrook and is home to bull trout, kokanee (a fresh water salmon – not the beer), rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout. It is easily accessible by Highway 3.

Lake Windermere, Whiteswan Lake, Whitetail Lake, Lazy Lake and Premier Lake are lakes surrounding the Cranbrook area and require highway driving for at least 45 minutes. However, these lakes all offer fantastic fishing and are worth looking into deeper.

Gear, gadgets and advice

Needing to get outfitted for your fishing adventure? Mountain Man Outdoors has all your outdoor gear and tackle. Also, check out St. Mary Fly Shop, and Kimberley Fly Fishing for charters, information and gear.

Thanks to Archie (Instagram: @kootkrazyfishing) for supplying some of the information as well as all the photos for this blog.