TravelFeedTravelFeed Logo
Winter Chronicles: Ice Fishing in the Cariboo

Winter Chronicles: Ice Fishing in the Cariboo

December 2019 · 7 min read · British Columbia

It's winter in the Cariboo.

Everything is frozen and the trees strain under a heavy load of ever-accumulating snow. The air is crisp and cold. Not much is moving outside because it either got the hell out of dodge on a set of wings or it found a dark hole to hibernate in.

If you're a warm-blooded human like me, then there just isn't much about winter that excites you. You see, I was never built for the long, cold winters of Canada. My soul yearns for the warm climate of Mexico, where I can bask in the hot Yucatán sun - piña colada in hand. I like to feel the sweat roll down my back while I walk the streets of those impossibly hot and sweltering pueblos magicos. Mexico is my dream. Chipping ice off of your windshield at 6 in the morning is not my idea of a good time. Because, let's be honest here, it just isn't a good time.

But, alas, I am not in the Yucatán. I am in the Cariboo and I am miserable. It's the week after Christmas and I am stuck inside with nothing to do. Yet there is only so much hibernating you can stand before you start to show the symptoms of some serious cabin fever. This is that week. I MUST get out! So I decided to man-up, put on my long johns and face the winter. Things always seem to pass quicker when you're having a good time, so let's have a good time!

Fortunately there is one winter activity that I enjoy and that is ice fishing. The idea that you can lounge in a warm little hut on top of the ice while the fish come to you is simply amazing to me. There is nothing quite as gratifying as pulling a big old trout through that hole and on to the ice!

The other perk (if you want to call it that) about winter is that it can be quite beautiful outside. Everything appears peaceful and serene, and it can make for gorgeous photos. And if you get up early enough, the Cariboo will bless you with a beautiful sunrise, for this area is known for its splendid sunrises at this time of the year. So that's settled then! I get all the gear packed and head to bed an hour earlier than usual, because we're going ice fishing tomorrow!

The alarm goes off at 6:05 the next morning. It's offensively early and still pitch black outside. I roll out of bed, let the dog out for a pee and hit the button on the Keurig. For a moment I regret leaving the warmth and comfort of my bed, but as the caffeine starts to do its work I am actually looking forward to the day. Ice fishing is always a good time.

We load up the truck and head out to Chimney Lake in the heart of the Cariboo. We set foot on the lake just as the sun peeks above the hills in the distance and just in time for a spectacular sunrise. Now I regret not getting up 20 minutes earlier so I could have time to set up a timelapse! Either way, this is going to be a gorgeous day. It's not too too cold and we are all in the mood to do some serious fishing.

Just look at this terrific sunrise!
Just look at this terrific sunrise!

I have learned that there is a natural law when it comes to fishing: you will always forget at least one thing that you need. Today it was the shovel. Good thing we brought buckets.

By the way, buckets are awesome inventions for ice fishing. You can carry gear in them, you can shovel snow with them, you can sit on them, and most importantly, you can store your bounty in them!

After the snow is cleared it's time to start drilling holes. I've got this handy dandy manual auger which serves two purposes: it drills holes and it warms you up.

First hole
First hole

For those who have never gone ice fishing, you want to clear the snow on the area where you will place the tent so that you have a clean area to work on. There's also a heater in the tent and it can get quite warm in there, so you don't want a slushy mess of melting snow in there. In fact, it can get so toasty in there that you can be quite comfortable just wearing a t-shirt.

After you erect the tent, it is a good idea to shovel snow on to the exterior flap of the tent. This seals the walls of the tent to the ice and keeps the heat inside. Since it wasn't too cold today and I was in a rush to get my line in the water I didn't bother to do that.

After settling in and putting a tasty bait on the hook, I eagerly await that first nibble. But the fish doesn't bite; it doesn't even show up to look at the menu.

I take a look outside and see several other tents on the ice and even some people fishing outside. I can hear some guy hollering about catching a small one and everyone laughing. Do the fish not like my bait? Then it dawns on me that this lake is known for its Kokanee (a fresh water salmon) and I have never fished for Kokanee before. In fact, I don't have a clue what kind of bait they're even into. We also found the water to be very deep - usually you can see the fish and the bottom of the lake when you look through the hole, but today the water was too deep. Kokanee lives in deeper water and I have no idea what depth to start with.

Somewhat dejected, we break up the tent and leave the lake empty handed. At least we were here for the sunrise!

“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.“ -AK Best

Tomorrow is another day and this winter is long. I will get fish this winter if it is the last thing I do.

The alarm goes off at 6:05 again. It's cold and dark outside. I roll out of bed, let the dog out for a pee and hit the button on the Keurig. While I sip on my coffee I think of the movie Groundhog Day and chuckle. Today we are going to catch fish, I can feel it.

We hit the road and head to McIntyre Lake (known for its rainbow trout) which is located on the Chilcotin Plateau west of Williams Lake. We arrive just in time for another magnificent sunrise and are surprised to see that we have the entire lake to ourselves. As we set up camp, I notice another good sign: we didn't forget anything! Today is gonna be grand!

Sunrise at McIntyre Lake
Sunrise at McIntyre Lake

Ready, Set, Fish
Ready, Set, Fish

A trick I have learned is to drop some tapioca pudding down the fishing hole. As mentioned before, you can usually see the bottom of the lake through the hole and the tapioca gives a nice contrast to see the fish clearly against the background.

Here fishy..
Here fishy..

After prepping the fishing hole, I load the hook with a juicy shrimp and dangle it down the hole. Breakfast is served. Come hungry.

Ready to Blog & Earn?

With TravelFeed, easily start your own travel blog and earn as you go. It's the smart platform for travelers who want to profit from their passion. Create a free account

Not even 3 minutes in the first customer yanks on the line and seconds later I have a shiny rainbow trout flapping beside me on the ice. Now that's more like it!

The rest of the morning we can hardly keep the hooks fully stocked. These fish are hungry!! After only 3 hours we have a nice bounty of 13 shiny rainbow trout, enough to completely fill that bucket.

Back home, I start cleaning and filleting the trout which keeps me busy for 2 hours. Yes, I'm a rookie, but I won't lose any of this beautiful pink meat.

Don't Forget: Get Travel Health Insurance!

To make your trip a worry-free experience, TravelFeed recommends SafetyWing Nomad Insurance. It provides comprehensive health coverage while you travel, so you can focus on exploring, not the unexpected. Get a quote here

And so the week after Christmas ends. I survived the cold, got to see two beautiful sunrises and stocked the freezer with a healthy bounty of delicious rainbow trout.

Thanks for joining me on my fishing trip, I hope you enjoyed the read. Next time, I will finish my Colombian trip and then: Mexico!

See you soon,

Journey of a Nomad

Travel Resources for your trip to Canada

Recommended by TravelFeed

Flights: We recommend checking to find the best and cheapest flights to Canada.

Accomodation: Explore the best places to stay in Canada on, Agoda and Hostelworld.

Travel Insurance: Medical emergencies abroad can be pricey, but travel health insurance is not. We always use SafetyWing for affordable and reliable coverage.

Transportation: Use 12go and Omio to find detailed bus and train schedules, making travel planning easier.

Car Rental: For hassle-free car hiring, DiscoverCars is our trusted choice with a wide selection of vehicles.

Internet: Got an eSIM compatible phone? Airalo is perfect for reliable internet access during your trip. Just install it before you go, and you're set!

Day Trips & Tours: We recommend GetYourGuide for a variety of well-organized and enjoyable activities.

Tickets: Save on entrance fees in Canada with Klook and Tiquets.

Travel Planner: Need a hand planning? Our free travel planner chatbot is your personal guide to Canada. Chat now.

Disclosure: Posts on TravelFeed may contain affiliate links. See affiliate disclosure.

Share this post