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The Jewel at First Ice

 

I am with my friends Wayne and Leonie, and we decide to take an adventure and go check out some first ice possibilities.  It’s November and with each day the ice gets thicker and now the smallest of ponds and lakes are locked up with enough new ice, it is strong enough to hold a person.  This is a golden time.  And while there are several possibilities, we have our hearts set on trying to catch one of the prettiest trout that swims, and that is the brook trout.

First ice brookies are jewels.

First ice brookies are jewels.

Brookies are shallow at first ice, which has everything to do with their spawn.  I often find them in just a few feet of water, which makes for exciting fishing, as I can see the fish in clear detail as they come in to look at my hook.


We figured them out!

We figured them out!

We arrive at the lake to see it is a perfect sheet of glass, which not so much as a blemish.  It’s an ice skater’s dream.  And on cue, there is a couple who are just coming off the ice with huge smiles.  "The ice is fantastic!" they excitedly tell us, and add, "While we were skating we could see trout darting away from us as clear as day."  That catches our attention! "Where did you see the fish if you don’t mind me asking," I quickly blurt out.

They point down the right shore, "Over there," and then towards a bit of a bay, "Over there," and to a non-decript piece of shoreline across the lake and said, "Over there as well," adding, "I’m sure if you guys walk around, you will be able to see them easily."  "Thank you," I say with a smile and with that, we were super excited and started our way down the right shore.


The ice was super clear and we could easily see the trout swimming below.

The ice was super clear and we could easily see the trout swimming below.

"The ice is so clear!"  I say to them, "I can see everything!" It wasn’t 100 meters distant and I see our first trout, a handsome male, probably 16 plus inches, lazily swimming in a few feet of water.  It was hanging out overtop of some light weed growth.  Without a doubt it saw me to, as it did a course change and made its way out to deeper water.

We see more fish, a pair here, another single, then "Oh boy Freddie, here’s a bunch!" Wayne announces. I make my way to him just in time to see a flight of 20 to 30 beautiful trout gliding out to deep water.  Impressive and inspiring seem to be the right words for the moment. We did have a problem though. Every fish would move away from us the moment we were visible. We are being actively avoided.


Just a beautiful fish

Just a beautiful fish

Given the sightings, we call it and set up camp.  We put out a couple of set lines with light line on JawJackers and stick some bait on.  I never know what might be the flavour of the day when it comes to brook trout, so I’m packing worms, maggots, shrimp, and PowerBait.   I settle in over a hole in about six feet of water and get ready to wait them out.  It seems kind of ridiculous, since everything is so clear, but I figure if I don’t move, I may not spook fish as they draw near.  Well...that backfired.

I had a couple of maggots tipped on a small fly and Wayne, who was 50 feet distant says, "Get ready Freddie, a school is heading your way."  Excited I wait, and then every so lightly give the fly and maggots a tiny 1 inch jig, to suggest life.  "Holy crap!" Wayne said, "They saw your wrist move and the scattered!  They’re gone."  It was demoralizing.  But the ultra-clear conditions combined with the ultra-clear ice were keeping the trout on edge and they were bolting at the faintest hint of trouble.  This was a problem.

It was readily apparent that this was going to be our biggest challenge of the day, so I went for a walk.  I was circling the entire lake to see if there was any white or cloudy ice that might conceal our presence.  No such luck.  My next thought was to move some lines out deeper, in ten or more feet of water to see if this would help, but we could easily see that deep and the fish could easily see us too.  No dice with this either.  Finally we set out our lightest lines on JawJackers and put them a good 100 feet away from us, hoping that this would not spook the trout, and it worked.


The JawJacker and light line was our ticket to success!

The JawJacker and light line was our ticket to success!

Maybe 10 minutes after we walk away from our JawJackers, one of them springs to life. We run over to clearly see a beautiful male brook trout under the ices pulling against the line, twisting and turning. I marvel at its beautiful markings and colours; its vibrant white edged fins glowing in the clear water.  Wayne is on the rod and he patiently waits for the fish to tire, applying light pressure.  It takes a couple of minutes, but the brookie is losing some of its steam and is not running as hard when it is near the hole.  With the fish tiring, the timing is right so Wayne dials up the pressure and the brookie easily comes up the hole and slides on the ice.

A trophy in every way. What an amazing experience!

A trophy in every way. What an amazing experience!

"It’s gorgeous!" Leonie exclaims. "It’s a beauty," Wayne adds. "It certainly is," I say.  We take a few pictures and send him back, a beauty of a male.  It was enough to catch this fish, and on this day, that’s all it needed to be.  With our solution to spooky trout working, we set out our JawJackers again and walk away.  In 10 minutes another rod springs to life.  The fish, another beautiful male, is caught, and for the rest of the day we get a steady parade of bites with equally big and beautiful trout doing the biting.  
Brookies are my first ice jewel, and make for some fantastic fishing experiences.  I am eager to get out on the early ice this year and have another set of cool experience with one of the prettiest fish that swims.

 



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) The Jewel at First Ice
(2) Fly Fishing Bucket List
(3) Guided or DIY?
(4) Pond Power
(5) Caddisflies
(6) In the Good Old Summertime
(7) A Southern Escape
(8) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(9) Sunny Day Rainbows
(10) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(11) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(12) Catfishing Revisited
(13) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(14) Falling for Cutthroat
(15) New Water and Old Friends
(16) My McLeod
(17) Temperature and Trout
(18) On the Road Again
(19) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(20) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(21) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(22) Rollin’ on the River
(23) Windy Day Pike
(24) Cures for Cabin Fever
(25) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(26) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(27) A day on our foothill streams
(28) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(29) Fly Leaders
(30) In the Zone
(31) Learners Permit
(32) Flies of Summer
(33) Selecting the Right Boat
(34) The Italian Job
(35) Making a difference
(36) Pass the Salt
(37) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(38) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(39) Fall brings the big walleye out
(40) Hoppertunity Time
(41) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(42) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(43) Early Season Fly Fishing
(44) Walleye Logic
(45) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(46) Grammy’s Fish
(47) Top 10 Trout Lures
(48) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(49) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(50) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(51) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(52) There’s No Place Like Home
(53) A Golden Opportunity
(54) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(55) Un-matching the Hatch
(56) Alberta Super Bugs
(57) Glass is Back
(58) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(59) Speed Kills
(60) Entering the Twilight Zone
(61) Old Man River
(62) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(63) Small stream BT fishing
(64) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(65) In The Walleye Zone
(66) Zoo Trout
(67) Fly Selection for Beginners
(68) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(69) New Waters
(70) Big Bad Burbot
(71) Looking Back
(72) Out of Africa
(73) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(74) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(75) The Browns of Autumn
(76) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(77) Walleye Town
(78) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(79) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(80) Going With The Flow
(81) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(82) Swinging The Fences
(83) A View From The Aerie
(84) Dixieland Delight
(85) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(86) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(87) Montana's Cool Missouri
(88) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(89) Toothy Critters
(90) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(91) Top Ten Flies
(92) Northern Exposure
(93) Home Water Lessons
(94) Chicken Of The Sea
(95) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(96) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(97) Keep It Up!
(98) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(99) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(100) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(101) Hawg Holes
(102) Saltwater Salmon
(103) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(104) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(105) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(106) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(107) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(108) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(109) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(110) Fall Walleye
(111) Wet Flies
(112) Versatility the Key to Success
(113) Grayling of the Boreal
(114) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(115) Size Matters
(116) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(117) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(118) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(119) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(120) The Point Of It All
(121) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(122) Fall Fly Fishing
(123) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(124) Big River, Big Fish
(125) Bottom Bonanza
(126) Fishing Small Flies
(127) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(128) Four Seasons of the Bow
(129) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(130) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(131) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(132) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(133) Edge Walleye
(134) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(135) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(136) Four Corners – Four Waters
(137) Chasing Pothole Trout
(138) Springtime Stoneflies
(139) The Torrents of Spring
(140) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(141) Bust Them With Bait
(142) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(143) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(144) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(145) Terrestrials
(146) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(147) Rocky Mountain High
(148) Reading the clues
(149) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(150) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(151) Fly Fishing 101
(152) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(153) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(154) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(155) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(156) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(157) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(158) Trust Your Electronics
(159) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(160) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(161) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(162) Walleye can be Humbling
(163) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(164) Winter Flyfishing
(165) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(166) Hot Fall Pike Action
(167) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(168) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(169) Frequently Asked Questions
(170) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(171) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(172) Deep Water Perch
(173) Post Spawn Brookies
(174) A Fisher's Life
(175) The River's Last Stand
(176) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(177) Coho on the Coast
(178) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(179) Summer in the Mountains
(180) Peak Walleye Season
(181) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(182) Last Ice Rainbows
(183) The Burbot Event
(184) Tackle Matching
(185) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(186) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(187) The Lure of Brook Trout
(188) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(189) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(190) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(191) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(192) The Vesatile Plug
(193) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(194) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(195) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(196) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(197) Daily Fish Migrations
(198) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(199) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(200) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(201) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(202) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(203) The Fun in Ultra Light
(204) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(205) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(206) Never Stop Learning
(207) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(208) Jigging through the Ice
(209) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(210) Rainbows on Ice
(211) The Season of Ice Begins
(212) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(213) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(214) Facts On Cats
(215) West Coast Adventure
(216) June Walleye Frenzy
(217) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(218) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(219) Northern Exposure
(220) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(221) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(222) Man Overboard
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