Ice conditions improve, post-Christmas; season in full swing

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A lot of people are still cautious about driving on area lakes, possibly for good reasons. The widely-circulated photo of a fishing shack swamped on Lesser Slave just before Christmas was giving people second thoughts.

But a few days of colder weather seemed to do the trick, and as the new year began, shacks were accumulating off Widewater and Canyon Creek.
On Jan. 2 there were about a dozen of them out there, in spite of sloppy conditions in nearly double-digit temperatures on the plus side. There were not, notably, many pickups in sight that day. People were using ATVs mostly – or in one case leg power to get out there. Lots of other huts were in evidence in yards around the hamlet – prepped for moving but not out there yet.

“Fourteen to 18 inches, depending where you drill,” Canyon Creek resident Brad Pearson told The Leader on Jan. 2. “Pickups are driving out now.”

Access is good for the moment at Canyon. The last couple of years cracks and ice heaves have caused all sorts of problems. Pearson says there are already some “prominent cracks” that bear watching.

The word from Joussard on the same day was 24 inches of ice, and the number of shacks growing by the day.

“Over 30 huts on the ice here,” said Jeff Burgar in an email to The Leader.
“There will be over a hundred in a month.”

However, don’t take any ice measurement as being general – certain local conditions can result in it being much less. And don’t look to the authorities to make any recommendations. The best that can be hoped for from that quarter is a general caution. As a rule, though, 18 inches of ice should be plenty to hold up a pickup truck.

The Leader plans to do another article on ice fishing – possible as early as next week – focusing on equipment, trends and so on.

One of the portable-type huts that are becoming more common. They are meant to be easy to put up and take down.
Ice fishing huts off Canyon Creek on Jan. 2. At nearly plus 10 there was a lot of water lying around, but the ice had thickened considerably since Christmas.

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