Fisheries & Fish Industry

Ice fishing in the city? It's happened and the city of Coquitlam isn't happy about it

Ice fishing in the city? It's happened and the city of Coquitlam isn't happy about it

The Lower Mainland’s cold spell has turned streets into skating rinks, and now, even our lakes have taken on a whole new purpose — ice fishing. However, officials are warning against the practice.

A resident says he caught a handful of rainbow trout after drilling through inches of ice in Coquitlam, B.C.’s Como Lake.

“It’s very, very interesting because most of us have never ice fished in the Lower Mainland before,” said avid angler Steve Peng. “This year [with] the extreme weather, we’re lucky.”

Lucky isn’t quite the word the City of Coquitlam is using to describe the situation.

Ice fishing Como Lake

Steve Peng says he driled about seven holes in his first day of ice fishing at Como Lake which yielded three fish. (Steve Peng)

“At this time, we have not deemed the ice safe for human activity,” said communications manager Kathleen Vincent in an email.

The city warned against skating, walking or cycling on lake surfaces because of thin ice in its most recent ice safety alert dated December 16.

It said signs to that effect were posted.

‘Fish were biting’

Over his three days of ice fishing, Peng says he caught five fish.

He started by drilling several test holes and “never imagined” he would find ice four to five inches thick in a city lake. It was a far departure from his summers fishing there.

Steve Peng daughter

Prior to being warned by RCMP, Steve Peng says he found the ice sturdy enough to bring his daughter along. (Steve Peng)

He was even more surprised by how eager the fish seemed to take the bait.

“Usually after November, it’s quite difficult to catch them,” he said.

“But when the lake was frozen, seems like the fish were biting … I used worms, dropped the line and suddenly the fish took it.”

On his first day, he says it only took an hour to catch his first fish. On day two, when he brought his daughter along, it only took about half an hour, much to her delight.

Ice fishing Steve Peng

It only took half an hour for Steve Peng and his daughter to catch a rainbow trout during their first ice-fishing trip together. (Steve Peng)

By his third day, two RCMP officers hollered at him to leave the ice out of concern for his safety.

The fisherman says he appreciated it and hasn’t returned since.

He notes that he researched ice fishing prior to heading out.

Try Merritt or Whistler instead

According to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.’s website, it recommends at least four inches of ice.

The society has stocked Como Lake with rainbow trout since the 1950s but even some of its staff were surprised by the thought of ice fishing in the city and warned against it.

“I’ve worked at the society for about 10 years and I’ve never heard of Como Lake or Green Timbers or any of those Lower Mainland lakes freezing before,” said communications coordinator Jessica Yarwood. 

She only knows of it happening at Rice Lake in North Vancouver where temperatures are typically lower due to its higher elevation.

Ice fishing Como Lake

Steve Peng says he caught five rainbow trout in three days of ice fishing at Coquitlam’s Como Lake. (Steve Peng)

Yarwood says while ice fishing in the city seems novel, she cautions temperatures fluctuate rapidly in the Lower Mainland and frozen snow has created unstable air pockets within what can appear to be thick ice.

Instead, she recommends heading out outside of the Lower Mainland to areas where frozen lakes can be 25 to 30 centimetres thick.

“You can go to many lakes in Merritt or even some in Whistler that will get a good solid amount of ice that people ice fish on every year.”

Peng says he plans on heeding that advice and hopes to go to Merritt after highway conditions clear.

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