Winter Angling: A Guide to Ice Fishing in Saskatchewan
Winter in Saskatchewan offers outdoor enthusiasts countless adventures, including incredible ice fishing. Once the lakes and rivers across the province freeze, communities of ice fishing shacks pop up.
By mid- to late-December, ice on Saskatchewan’s pristine lakes is most often solid enough for fishing (but always check conditions before crossing frozen bodies of water). Fish tend to be on a feeding frenzy around this time. With the right bait, you can catch walleye aplenty. Northern pike, perch, whitefish, lake trout, and burbot can also be easily caught in winter. Thawing is rare before mid-March. The three-month season gives winter anglers ample time and opportunity to get out on the ice.
Where to Go and What You’ll Catch
Saskatchewan boasts an abundance of healthy, record-sized fish. Here are some of the top ice fishing locations throughout the province:
With a world-record ice fishing catch in the books, Tobin Lake, near Nipawin, should be one of your go-to spots for that trophy walleye. The lake is home to many other species, including yellow perch, northern pike, burbot, whitefish and goldeye. It has been named one of the top ice fishing destinations in Canada.
Photo supplied by Lisa Roper Outdoors
In the south, Last Mountain Lake is a favourite ice fishing spot. At more than 90 km long, the size of the lake means that there is plenty of room for all winter anglers wanting to drill some holes and drop a line. This lake has healthy populations of northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, burbot and common carp.
Lake Diefenbaker, in the southwest, is another prime ice fishing location, renowned for its trophy-sized rainbow trout. With its vast 800-km shoreline, the lake is also known for the diversity of species found in its waters, including walleye, northern pike, burbot, yellow perch, whitefish and lake trout.
Qu’Appelle Lakes (Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa)
A series of four small lakes in the southeast, the Qu’Appelle Lakes are favourite drive-to spots. Also known as the Fishing Lakes, they are very accessible and home to a fish hatchery. Here, you can catch an impressive number of species, including walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, whitefish, burbot, sauger, channel catfish, rock bass, black bullhead, big mouth buffalo, dog fish, and common carp, among others.
Boundary Dam/Rafferty Dam
For a unique catch, Boundary Dam near Estevan is the go-to spot for largemouth bass. In fact, it’s the only place to go. Due to the nearby power plant, the water is much warmer, which makes it possible for the species to thrive. Other species found in the reservoir and neighbouring Rafferty Dam include walleye, northern pike and yellow perch.
Northern Saskatchewan Lakes
Saskatchewan has world-class freshwater fishing, and many of the province’s nearly 100,000 lakes and rivers can be found in the north. Opportunities for ice fishing are endless. A few drive-to/road-accessible lakes include Amisk Lake, Deschambault Lake, Otter Lake and Dore Lake. In the far north, Cree Lake Lodge offers a fly-in winter angling experience like no other. Northern pike, walleye, lake trout and Arctic grayling are some of the species that inhabit the waters of northern Saskatchewan.
Photo supplied by Dana White, Scrapeline Media Productions/Fatal Impact Outdoors
What to Know
- Saskatchewan residents 16 to 65 must have a valid Saskatchewan angling licence to ice fish (except for Free Fishing Weekend – February 18-20, 2023). Purchase one online, at any Saskatchewan angling licence issuer, at select provincial park offices or the Ministry of Environment, or by phone at 1-855-848-4773.
- Ice fishing requires relatively little equipment: ice auger (manual or power), ice fishing rod and reel, tackle box and bait. Ice fishing shacks or shelters are optional and can range from pop-ups to ice castles. A seat (sturdy bucket), sled and heater are nice, too.
- Wear naturally warm clothing, head and footwear. Dressing in layers is recommended.
- Always check weather and ice conditions beforehand, pack winter survival gear, and tell someone when and where you are fishing, as well as your estimated return time.
Guided Experiences and Packages
New to ice fishing or looking for a guided experience? These fishing outfitters can help you plan your next winter angling adventure in Saskatchewan:
- Marshland Fishing (Lake Diefenbaker)
- Saskatchewan Outdoors Guide Service (Last Mountain Lake and Qu’Appelle Lakes)
- Fishing Geeks (Lake Diefenbaker)
- Thompson’s Resort (Otter Lake, Missinipe, Lac La Ronge Provincial Park)
- T&D Amisk Camp (Amisk Lake, Denare Beach)
- Dore Lake Lodge (Dore Lake)
- Tobin Lake Guide Services (Tobin Lake)
- Twin Marine Outfitting (Tobin Lake)
- Twin Bay Resort (Deschambault Lake)
- Prairie Pro Outfitters (Rafferty Dam)
Discover more information about licensed outfitters at FishHuntSask.com or the Saskatchewan Commission of Professional Outfitters.
Ice fishing derbies are a fun way to get out on the ice to catch fish for a possible payout. Check out these upcoming events!
Where are your favourite places to ice fish in Saskatchewan? Share your stories and photos with us by using #ExploreSask on Instagram.