No matter what the weather may throw his way, Scott Stevens always finds a way to indulge in his greatest passion, fishing. With the summer and fall fishing seasons drawing to a close, many tuck their fishing gear away and wait for warmer temperatures. However, Stevens’ ice fishing season is just getting started.
“I’ll be out there every weekend ice fishing. Sometimes you’ll go twice in a weekend when the fishing’s really good. You try for once a weekend and at least three times a month,” Stevens explained.
Initially, he honed his craft on the waters of southern Alberta (40 Mile Reservoir, Grassy Lake) near Bow Island. Some of his earliest memories are of being out on the lake, whether it was frozen or not.
“I always went with my dad. He always loved fishing, so as far back as I can remember, probably three or four-years-old, he was always taking me out fishing. I didn’t always take it seriously when I was younger because it takes a lot of patience.”
Now the 27-years-old fills all his free time with his rod and gear.
“Some people are really into playing hockey, or going golfing all year or snowboarding every weekend. For a lot of people it’s just what they do— they fish. Personally, it’s more of a lifestyle than a hobby.”
Stevens now has several years of experience to his name and relishes the cold winter months as prime time for catching.
“There’s not a lot of things you can do in the winter. The good thing about ice fishing is it doesn’t matter what the weather is, as long as you’re committed to go out there and do it. If you have a good ice fishing shack it could be -30 outside and you’d be comfortable. The hardest part is setting the shack up. Once you got that heater set up in your tent, doesn’t matter how cold it is, you can just sit there and just fish, have a good time and bond with your buddies.”
For the less experienced fisherman, he continually stresses preparation, patience, and safety. Being properly clothed is important, including a warm winter jacket and waterproof boots. The right equipment is also essential, including an ice auger, multiple rods, reels, fishing line, bait. Also, an Alberta fishing license and Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) card are mandatory to legally fish in the province.
Analyzing ice conditions is a crucial part of making sure that you keep you and yours safe when venturing out. Stevens uses the iFish Alberta app to help him determine which areas are suitable for him to set up.
“People that have been out there will post and tell you how thick the ice is. The ice fishing community is really a lot bigger than a lot of people think,” Stevens says.
Beginners never go out alone, he says, and always contact a friend or someone else with experience first. He advises solid research before heading out, as every body of water has different regulations. Even as an advanced fisherman, he still proceeds with caution in the unpredictable winter months.