Live from the Ice

Freshwater Fish President and CEO John Wood

Earlier this month I experienced something I’ve always been interested in, but never managed to do. I went ice fishing.

Freshwater Fish Board member Ken Campbell invited me and David Northcott, our Vice President of Operations, to join him for a day on the frozen lake – and we obviously jumped at the chance.

On Thursday, January 13th, Dave and I headed up to the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. We rode a bombardier across ice that was more than two feet thick, finally coming to rest where Ken and his helper had set his nets earlier.

It was a beautiful day to be on the ice (or so we were told – us rookies wouldn’t have known the difference!). We pulled up eight nets during our six hours on the lake. The bulk of the catch was pickerel (known as walleye in the US) but we also had some lake whitefish and mariah (sometimes called freshwater cod).

It was definitely a challenge to get the fish untwined from the mono-filament net while wearing big, warm gloves. Removing fish from a mono-filament net requires technique and skill – a skill neither David nor I mastered in our few hours on the ice.

Ken wears a pair of pure wool mitts and had them for Dave and I as well. The trick is to soak the mitts in a bucket of warm water once the mitts are cold and have ice built up. This way, the natural insulating effect of wool kept our hands warm, even when wet. Live and learn!

And learn I did … by the time we headed for shore … and this day on the ice really reinforced the respect I have for our commercial fishers!