Leko’s Conservation Corner – Ice Fishing

(Last Updated On: February 17, 2018)
Sponsored by - Buddha's Bait Shop, White Fox, SK
Sponsored by – Buddha’s Bait Shop, White Fox, SK

We finally received a bit of a reprieve from the extreme cold that we endured over Christmas and New Year’s. I went out one day to patrol and did not see a soul. It would be pretty uncomfortable to ice fish in that extreme cold, even if you were in a shelter. The nice thing about the cold is that it made some pretty good ice which should make access to lakes much easier.

On some lakes, I have heard reports of ice that is 15 to 18 inches thick. That sure beats the vehicles and shacks falling through before Christmas. In this column, I am going to discuss some common ice fishing rules and etiquette that hopefully everyone will consider. The vast majority of issues related to ice fishing are no different than summer fishing.

Limits and licensing are all the same, but the methods used to ice fish are different.

Q: Is there a restriction on the size of a hole you can drill?

No, there is no restriction to the size or quantity of holes you use while fishing. I have seen holes that are 2’ x 4’. The only consideration one should have is what to do with the chunks of ice that are taken out of a hole that big. The holes should be marked somehow so that no one runs into them while on a snowmobile or truck. Holes will freeze over quickly but a large chunk of ice will be invisible with the snow. Mark it with poles or flagging tape.


Q: What types of bait can I use while ice fishing?

It is pretty much the same bait that is used during the summer season. Worms, frozen/commercially processed minnows, meal worms are all common bait types. Parts of the fish may also be used including eyes, the pyloric ceaca or the skin from the fish belly.

The only thing is that the fish that you removed the parts from must be included in your limit. You cannot use a whole sportfish as bait, and the use of live minnows of any kind is unlawful.

Q: Can I use spring loaded hooks?

No, these are barbaric little devices that use a spring to clamp down on the fishes mouth when it bites. Not sure if anyone has had one of these things spring closed on a finger, but it would hurt.

These are not only illegal to use, but they are illegal to possess. Even having one in your tackle box or shack is unlawful. This goes with the spring loaded gaff as well. Years ago these were the trend to pull the fish out of the hole.

Q: What are some rules surrounding ice shacks?

The most common one is that all shacks have to be marked with the owner’s name, address and phone number.

Consumption or possession of alcohol is not allowed in any ice shack regardless of how many beds, stoves, TVs or biffys that you have.

All garbage must be taken home with you when done, and you may not dump the ashes from your wood burning stove onto the ice.

Finally, all shacks have to be removed from the ice south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead) by March 15, 2018, and north of the Yellowhead by March 31.

Q: What are some other rules surrounding ice fishing?

Gaffs are allowed for ice fishing only, and cannot exceed 1.5 metres in length. The end of the gaff must also have a J-hook. Spears, pitch forks or spear guns are not legal to use or have during the ice fishing season.

It is perfectly legal to angle at night as long as lights are not used to attract the fish. There is no current legislation that prohibits the use of chum or some other attractant to lure fish. I have heard of items such as corn, being used.

Q: Are the glow in the dark lures, or lures with lights legal to use?

There are a number of these lures on the market and I have some in my tackle box. They are perfectly legal to use while angling. Some lures have lights or strobes attached to them which are also legal to use.

Lighted lure must be attached to a line. Remember, the use of lights, not attached to the lure, to attract fish is unlawful.

Q: What are the rules surrounding chumming or the disposal of fish offal?

There are currently no rules surrounding the activity of chumming in Saskatchewan waters to attract fish. In addition, there is no legislation other than The Parks Regulations which make it an offence to deposit fish offal near a beach or within the campground/park other than in approved receptacles.

That being said, there is no legislation prohibiting depositing fish remains from cleaning the fish down the hole.

There is legislation under the Environmental Management Protection Act, 2010 that stipulates that it is an offence to deposit material into any lake, but this would apply to litter, and waste/material related to construction or shoreline alteration and development.

Well, that should do it for another couple of weeks. Remember that if you have any questions or topics you want covered, drop me a line.

Until next time….make sure you can see that second line at all times while ice fishing.

CO Lindsey Leko – Photo credit Ministry of Environment.

Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact

Sponsored by - Buddha's Bait Shop, White Fox, SK
Sponsored by – Buddha’s Bait Shop, White Fox, SK

Buddha’s Bait Shop, White Fox, Saskatchewan Canada

We offer a huge variety of local Saskatchewan and Canadian Products:

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