Sure enough, ice fishing shacks started showing up on Lesser Slave Lake not long after Christmas. This is about what was predicted early in December, when there was still open water visible in spots.
By the time we paid a visit to Canyon Creek and Widewater on Jan. 4, there were quite a few of them out there. Also visible on the ice on a beautiful day were people fishing with no shack for protection – it was that nice.
Our man on the scene in Canyon Creek – Brad Pearson – said on that day there was 19 inches of ice and he had hauled his shack out the day before.
“The fish aren’t biting,” he added in an email.
As for access, Pearson said you had to negotiate an ice ridge or two, but it was pretty good for the time being. That situation is ever-changing, of course, with the lake ice shifting around as it does.
There were about 10 shacks off Canyon Creek that morning; a slightly smaller number were in view off Widewater/Wagner. The story was similar, but with the usual bigger numbers, in the lake’s west basin, with about 80 shacks at Joussard, according to our source there, with others showing up off the north shore and at Big Grassy. Auger Bay will have its share as well, says our source at the west end. He figures it could be another record year.
It could well be, if other activities are anything to go by. COVID-induced bans on public gatherings, team sports and such have resulted in a surge in interest in fishing, camping, home renovations and other things people can do without getting too close to too many other people.