Ice Fishing in the Grande Prairie Region

With so many activities and social gatherings still currently restricted, there has never been a better time to acquaint yourself with the world of ice fishing! Yes, if you’re exploring the Grande Prairie region this winter, we highly recommend a day out on one of our frozen lakes. The adrenaline of reeling in an unsuspecting trout is unlike any other feeling – and will have you forgetting all about the cold within seconds. Add to that the breathtaking natural beauty of northern Albertan and we’re quite sure you’ll be raving about your experience for weeks to come!

man baiting ice fishing rod

photo credit: Travel Alberta / Katie Goldie

Best Fishing Spots in the Grande Prairie Region

Ice fishing in the Grande Prairie region is really quite the catch, especially when you realize that many of the best lakes to fish in are merely an hour or two from the city by car. Swan Lake, for example, is located only 45 minutes east on Highway 43. The lake is full of beautiful Rainbow Trout, which makes it quite popular among anglers throughout the region. The well-maintained surroundings and access to several basic amenities also make the lake one of the most family-friendly options in the region.

Please note that there is an open irrigation system near the boat launch, so remember to keep an eye on your children and pets.

If you’re a seasoned fisherman looking for more variety, make sure you visit Snipe Lake, an approximate 90 minutes drive from the city. Here, you can catch Walleye, Northern Pike, Lake Whitefish, and – if you’re lucky – even Burbot or Yellow Belly Perch. Some of the Northern Pike grow to be over 40 inches long, so make sure to man your rod at all times!

In Saddle Hills, about an hour and 20 minutes drive north-west of Grande Prairie, Moonshine Lake is another great scene for ice fishing in the winter months. Stocked with rainbow, brown, and tiger trout and part of a designated provincial park, the lake is a great option for a family day- or weekend-trip. The park plays host to a variety of other winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating (some years), and year-round camping.

3 persons sitting on a frozen lake going ice fishing

photo credit: Travel Alberta

Because some of the fish belong to vulnerable or threatened species, please ensure you check local regulations before you keep a fish. Regulation books are available at local hunting and fishing stores, or you can also download a copy online. Also, please never keep the biggest fish you pull out of the ice since experts say such lake ‘monsters’ usually have the best reproductive genes and will lay more eggs for more fish, which will make fishing fun for the next generation of fishing enthusiasts.


Ice Fishing Equipment, Gear, and Safety Instructions

getting ice fishing line and baited

photo credit: Travel Alberta / Katie Goldie

There are a few things to keep in mind before you hit your destination, like:

  • Always checking the ice thickness before walking or driving on the ice.
  • For extra safety, remove seatbelts and roll the windows down before driving out onto the ice for a quick exit should the ice break, as ice thickness is always unpredictable.
  • Packing extra clothes in case the weather changes and your original outfit gets damp or wet.
  • Carrying some form of artificial lighting in case the sun disappears quickly, which is a high probability in winter.
  • Buying safety packs from local outdoorsman stores that include ice cleats, whistles, and ice picks for emergencies.
  • Informing someone before you leave for ice fishing so they know to take appropriate action if you’re late.

person using ice auger going ice fishing in grande prairie region

  • Packing an ice auger (either manual or electric) if you want to drill a new hole for fishing, a snow shovel to clear away excess snow around it, and an ice scoop to clear away the slush inside it.
  • Bringing a grill and a bucket if you plan to have a warm lunch and keep your prized catches.
  • On colder days, an ice fishing tent is a good idea to be able to stay out of the wind (plus it makes it easier to see your fish swim by your hook and bait!)
  • If you are a frequent fisher, you also might want to invest in a sleigh to carry your gear to and from the vehicle.

While winters in northern Alberta can be very long and at times, extremely cold, it’s worth picking up a new outdoor hobby or sport such as ice fishing to help encourage you to get fresh air, exercise, and social time with friends and family. Thank you to Parker Sharp and Tryten Henitz, two local ice fishing enthusiasts themselves, for providing many of the invaluable tips and information outlined in this blog!

If we convinced you to go ice fishing (or just provided some information that was helpful), make sure to share your journey with us by using the hashtag #GPTourism on Instagram or Facebook.

Ice fishing infographic

Infographic link: https://mywildalberta.ca/fishing/safety-procedures/ice-safety-tips/documents/aep-Infographic-Alberta-Ice-Fishing-Safety-November16-2020_Final.pdf