Licence-free fishing all weekend long

By Kassidy Christensen

February 16, 2017 12:00 AM

The Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment has announced all fishing will be free for the Family Day weekend Feb. 18 to 20.
A licence will not be necessary for the three-day weekend to enjoy ice fishing throughout Saskatchewan’s public waters.
Environment Minister Scott Moe said in a press release: “Fishing is one of Saskatchewan’s most popular activities, attracting more than 250,000 people each year.”
“This weekend is a great opportunity for people and their families to learn about and enjoy the sport of ice fishing and to recognize the value of this provincial resource,” Moe said in the release.
Rob Grainger, conservation officer with the ministry of environment Lloydminster area office, said safety is first and foremost when ice fishing.
“Make sure the ice is going to be safe to support you before you head out on the lakes,” said Grainger, who advised the best way to check the safety of the ice is to “drill holes, check and measure the thickness.”
Rules of thumb, provided by the Government of Saskatchewan states: “A minimum of 10-cm of good ice is required for walking and 30-cm for light vehicle travel.”
Ice conditions have been “OK,” said Grainger, but getting the ice built up was slow to start with considering “November was so nice,” he said.
“For the most part the ice conditions have been OK, but I have heard there are a lot of ice heaves on some of the lakes and those are areas that you have to be extremely cautious around.”
Grainger explained an ice heave is “when the ice will kind of crack and fold onto itself, and lots of times there can be open water associated with that,” he said.
“The ice is broken up in those areas and it’s not as thick as the rest of the lake. You need lots of caution dealing with ice heaves.”
Aside from ensuring ice conditions are safe, Grainger said to “dress warm and have fun!”
Some ponds in the vicinity of Lloydminster residents can enjoy include, “a few little trout ponds in the area … Jack McDougall (Trout) Pond just east of town here … Suffern Lake south of Marsden is a stock trout water, Yonkers Lake is another that is in that area that’s stocked,” Grainger said.
“Then majority of people from Lloydminster and that area end up going north, Ministikwan (Lake), Peck (Lake), Little Fishing (Lake), Turtle (Lake), Keeley (Lake), Meadow Lake (Provincial) Park, lots of little lakes up in there.”
The fish species that can be found in these ponds include, “mostly rainbow trout, the odd brook trout, and then when you get up north you’re up into Ministikwan (Lake), Turtle (Lake), stuff like that, it’s pike and walleye, perch, and whitefish, probably the most common ones,” Grainger said.
Anglers looking to export what they caught out of province will require a licence.
“All you need to do is go to any of the vendors that sell licences and purchase a licence,” Grainger said.
“There are one day licences, three day licences available as well as an annual angling licence.”
Grainger said all rules and regulations normally in effect still apply.
“You’re limited to two lines per person, the maximum when you’re ice fishing, you have to be within 25 metres of your lines and have them in sight at all times. Bait restrictions, no live bait and that type of thing,” he said.
The press release from the Ministry of Environment stated free fishing does not apply in national parks, and, “Anglers on Lac la Ronge must have a free endorsement and associated harvest ledger.
“These may be obtained for free through private issuers, Ministry of Environment and select provincial park offices.”
A full list of rules and regulations about fishing in Saskatchewan can be found in the 2016 Anglers’ Guide.
Visit www.saskatchewan.ca/fishing for an online version of the guide, or pick up a copy anywhere fishing licences are sold.

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