Column: Digging a hole and waiting for the fish to bite

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

For some of us old guys who love the outdoors, ice fishing is part of what we and many others enjoy.

Saying that, sitting on a bucket, gazing down an ice hole while waiting for that bobber on the line to indicate a bite can be cold business.

With great stocking programs on most local lakes with trout, and two lakes with kokanee, it’s still enjoyable. Most lakes are fishing fairly well, with the die-hard anglers doing best on Gardom, White, Phillips, Pillar and Monte lakes (the last two near Falkland/Westwold).

February and March fishing slows as dissolved oxygen levels decrease, used by decaying plants, insects, and fish, with less sunlight penetrating the water column below the ice. Trout will move down to the thermocline near bottom. But with know-how, and by chatting with other anglers on depths and what to use for bait, or using fishing apps like Angler’s Atlas, you will learn about drop off zones, marl beds, etc.

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Another good bet is a solar table booklet, telling major and minor times for best fishing. For many generations, Pennask rainbow trout were used for stocking Interior lakes. Initially, Kamloops trout, or red band trout as they were called, were stocked in Kamloops area lakes to promote tourism. They were still a strain of Pennask fish. In modern times, and due to spiny ray species (perch) stocked in a number of local lakes, other strains, like Fraser Valley and blackwater were introduced after rotenone treatment.

A bright spot for many ice anglers, was the stocking of kokanee in Monte Lake past Westwold a few seasons back. These are sterile female fish,treated at the hatchery before release. Again, information is readily available on gear and how to angle for kokanee.

There are reports that kokanee were recently stocked in Pillar lake. Phillips Lake has some very large kokanee as well.

For all you ice anglers out there, the major afternoon bite is on till the 29th of February. So get out and enjoy our great four-season playground here in the Shuswap.

Next week, some great and quick game and fish recipes.

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