Winter Fishing Options in British Columbia
Canada is not all ice & snow in the winter. Well… much of Canada is cold & white in the winter. I am lucky to live on the coast of British Columbia, where it rarely snows and the ponds don’t freeze over.
Not a die-hard fisherman? No problem. Below are some ideas to make the most of your winter fishing.
What to Consider When Winter Fishing
#1 – Weather
The weather is the number one concern when fishing in the winter. Make sure you are appropriately dressed. The coast of BC sees more rain, so wear warm rainproof clothing. Bring extra clothes to change into, in case you get wet. If you are in freezing conditions, dress for the cooler temperature. Fish with a friend, just in case the weather gets to you.
#2 What Body Of Water to Fish - River, Lake or Ocean?
Do you want to fish the ocean, a river, or a lake? Lakes may be frozen in the BC interior (which means ice fishing!). Rivers on the coast are generally fishable, but tougher to fish the further inland you go. The Pacific Ocean is fishable year-round, but what fish are in season? And the ocean is generally not as calm as it is in other seasons, so make sure if you go out into the salt chuck, you have an appropriate boat.
My Choices for Winter Fishing
If you want a completely different experience and aren’t afraid of the cold, then try ice fishing. Find someone who knows what they are doing. Get them to show you the art of digging a hole in the middle of a lake, using a tiny fish pole, sitting in a lawn chair drinking something to take the edge off. You’ll be sitting in a small shack with a bit of heat if you are lucky. As you can guess, this isn’t my #1 choice.
One of my favourite fish to eat is cod. So, fishing for cod is always a good thing if you like fish & chips like I do. But the ocean is less friendly in the winter, and let’s face it, cod are generally not the most fun of fighters. Salmon aren’t as plentiful in the winter months but there are still a few around.
My best bet would be to do some river fishing. Find a spot that isn’t frozen – likely closer to the coast, or in larger rivers. Two fish come to mind in the river - Steelhead and Sturgeon. Winter steelhead are for hardier anglers - as you are generally more exposed to the elements, wading in freezing water, exposed to the cool breeze. But if you have a good location, you may be able to hook up a steelhead or two on the fly or conventional gear.
Sturgeon fishing is my personal favourite, no matter what time of year. If you have a good boat, with a cover / cabin, and heater, you can fish like any other time of year. You only need to go into the elements to pull in your monster sturgeon – and then your adrenaline keeps you warm. If you have a good guide, the fishing is just as good and often times better in the winter as in the summer. If you haven’t tried sturgeon fishing, winter sturgeon fishing is very productive and I would highly recommend giving it a try.
If you like fishing, then you’ll find a way to do it. There are plenty of fish around in the winter, with some great options. Talk to your local fishing guide to learn more about winter fishing.
Always make sure to adhere to local fishing regulations and have the appropriate fishing license(s). Read more in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations BC and in the Government Of Canada Recreational Fishing Guide.
Yves Bisson is a sturgeon fishing guide, located on the Fraser River, outside Vancouver British Columbia. He has 20 years of sturgeon fishing guiding experience. If you are looking for a fantastic experience fishing for sturgeon, please contact him to find out more.