Ice Fishing in Cranbrook #RockiesExploring
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Doc Pow & Nick Nault for #RockiesExploring
CRANBROOK, B.C. – Picture a frozen lake you can have pretty much to yourself, and a place where you can glide on ice skates or catch a fish for some dinner at the base of some of the world’s most famous mountains. This is as Canadian as it gets.
Fernie-based photographer, Nick Nault, recently scored an inside look at what more than 80 collective years of outdoor experience can deliver, spending time with one of Western Canada’s most connected pair of locals. He spent the day learning about what adventures await in B.C.’s Rockies this winter, learning the local knowledge from Mountain Man Outdoors, a fishing and outdoor shop servicing the Rocky Mountains.
“The knowledge of the staff is a big thing in the success of the shop," says Nelson Augustine, whose grandfather founded the shop, he still owns more than 40 years later. "Most are retired guys, like Sid Thacker, who have their opinions on locations for the best fishing. Lots of guys would just come in to chat with the team for that local insight,” adds Augustine.
Born, raised and now retired in Cranbrook, Thacker's lifestyle around here sounds idyllic and it's blissfully uncomplicated. “Here in Cranbrook, you can be downtown and within 10 minutes be into the outdoors with no one around,” he says. “I can go to 15 different lakes within an hour and a half.”
You can hook into the itinerary Nault, Thacker and Augustine enjoyed by going through some of these images with descriptions from Nault, the photographer.
Fish or skate at Jim Smith Lake Provincial Park
Nelson Augustine jigs his way into the ice at Jim Smith Lake Provincial Park, setting up for some ice fishing.
Ice fishing may qualify as one of the all-time best experiences. Picture a stellar day skiing at Fernie, a little more than an hour away, or 30 minutes up the road at Kimberley – and now you are here at Jim Smith Lake Provincial Park jigging your way into dinner.
For Thacker and Augustine, the ice fishing part of the day is No. 2, or even No. 3 to the actual experience. The best part, they say, is about the camaraderie and being outside, enjoying nature, as you can see from how comfortable Thacker looks in his chair below.
If you are looking to get out the skates and do laps at the base of rock giants, then Peckhams or Horseshoe are lakes you should also know about.
Norbury Lake Provincial Park, home to Peckhams Lake
The pros at Mountain Man Outdoors will tell you if the local ice is safe and some of their best spots for ice fishing.
Scoping out the ice is important for your safety, so before heading out on the ice around Cranbrook, it’s recommended you check in with the team at Mountain Man Outdoors.
“The range in the background of this shot is the Steeples range and includes Fisher Peak,” says Nault. “Just one of the epic views we scored through the day, as the lake site is right at the base of the range.”
Ice fishers bask in the glow of the sun setting over Peckhams Lake.
In this picture, (above), facing the opposite direction of the Steeples, you can see the serenity of being out on the lake. “Nice and quiet, with this picture showing off how scenic the frozen lake itself can be,” says Nault.
“Peckhams Lake is my favourite for sure,” said Augustine. “It’s a spring-fed lake so it’s some of the clearest water. We were there close to sunset, and you should see the mountain range with the snow on them and that pinky- orange light; it's magic.”
The area around Peckhams Lake is home to all kinds of wildlife, like bighorn sheep.
“On a backroad cruise out to Peckhams, we found this guy. There is so much wildlife in the area and it's so cool to see a bighorn sheep up close and personal like this,” says Nault.
Skate your way into an epic winter experience.
Sure, a game of shinny can work at your local rink, but how about adding a backdrop that will knock your skates off?
“Living in Fernie, once into December, you typically can’t do this, as most of our lakes are covered in a foot of snow," says Nault. "But here in Cranbrook, being one of the country's sunniest cities, means it will have different activities up for grabs.” (FYI for those mountain bikers, it also means the trails here are open way earlier than other Rocky Mountain destinations.)
“On the drive back, heading into Cranbrook, this was the view in the rear-view mirror, taken right at the entrance to Fort Steele Heritage town,” says Nault.
As for Augustine, his insights into the East Kootenay’s offer some of the best fishing in North America, including rainbow and brook trout, or the Kokanee, a free water salmon. Take Augustine up on his invitation and get ouside amid 360 degrees of Rocky Mountain magic. Head into #exploreCranbrook and go #RockiesExploring.
When You Go
Its important to stay safe while exploring during the winter months. Remember the saying "Thick and blue, tried and true;
Thin and crispy, way too risky". Learn more about safety here.
We think this is a stellar idea - the opportunity to catch your dinner or a game of pick-up hockey on a frozen oasis. These are only two of the ways to explore B.C.’s southern Rockies. Cranbrook Tourism has a full plate of options which you will find here.
Let us know what you hook into when you go #RockiesExploring. Please search the hashtag for more inspiration and be sure to use it in your posts because we might feature you on our ZenSeekers' social media feeds.