Ice fishing event in Joussard, fun for the whole family

Kate Lovsin
For the Lakeside Leader

Every year, the Lesser Slave Watershed Council (LSWC) hosts an event called Kids Can Catch with community partners. It is a day stacked with fun for people of all ages, including activities in the Joussard Community Hall, free food, prizes, and of course, free fishing.

Some folks might wonder how this kind of event would apply to the work that we do at the LSWC. Well, it all comes down to good lake stewardship.

A critical piece of the Kids Can Catch event is that it always happens on Free Fishing Weekend in Alberta, which means that everyone can fish for free, without a fishing license, on Family Day weekend in February and the weekend immediately following Canada Day in July every year. This event also offers the opportunity for folks from all backgrounds and experience levels to come out and try fishing for the first time, without equipment costs or other barriers. It is important to remember that just because fishing is free on these special days of the year, everyone is still expected to follow fishing regulations. Fishing regulations can be different from lake to lake, so it is important to know the rules before you go out.

Another goal is to help inform and educate the public about the best fish handling practices, to help protect the fish being returned to the lake from death. We find our annual fish-handling and stewardship talk benefiting not only the kids, but everyone who attends. Using the right equipment and managing to unhook the fish and handle it properly before returning it are very important to reduce shock and damaging the fish’s chance at survival. For example, folks should not use barbed hooks, should never touch the gills of a fish, and should wear gloves when touching the fish to protect their skin from residue, or touch them with wet hands. Other important practices are to limit their time out of water, and to use a net to take stress off their hooked area while removing the hook.

These Kids Can Catch events happen across the province, mainly due to grant funding from the Alberta Conservation Association. They only happen because of the immense support organizers have from their local communities by way of volunteers, donations and more.

Want to learn more? Come check out the Eighth Annual Kids Can Catch event happening in Joussard on February 17th, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a free brunch, fishing and equipment to borrow, activities in the hall, a fish handling talk, chili supper and more. Check out www.lswc.ca for more information. Prizes for the first fish caught, biggest walleye, and giveaways for all the kids, while supplies last. The entire day is free to attend.

Ice shacks and participants at the 2022 Kids Can Catch event.
Photos courtesy of the Lesser Slave Watershed Council.
Participants at the 2023 Kids Can Catch event.

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