Over the last few weeks, several of our local schools have participated in the Assiniboine Hills Conservation District’s "Ice Fishing Days".
This event, which first started nine years ago at Rock Lake, has moved to various water bodies in the district, allowing schools further away to take part in this popular winter activity. This year the event is held at Rock Lake and on the Souris River in Wawanesa.
The attraction is an afternoon of ice fishing but there’s much more involved. Each school gets a separate day, and first meets district staff in the morning in a nicely heated building.
The morning is all about learning as we discuss fish species, habitat requirements, regulations, and ice safety. There’s a real emphasis on how important healthy waters are to us and our fish, with a presentation solely on how the conservation district is locally involved in increasing water quality and how we all can be involved.
The class then builds their own ice fishing rigs made from a willow stick, line, and hook. It’s as simple and thrifty as fishing can get but it works really well. After lunch we head out onto the river or lake and try our luck at fishing.
Since the start of the event — initially funded by the Fisheries Enhancement Fund, with continued support from the Brandon Home Hardware Building Centre, and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship — there have been more than 1,000 students participate.
Before this year’s event began, we had only caught a handful of fish in total. This year, however, has been great, with one school catching more than 35 fish.
Although the students catches are released, the hope is they will take home some of their new knowledge instead, so we all have a better understanding of our local fish and waters.
» Devon Baete is the co-oridinator of Ice Fishing Days