Ice Fishing at Osprey Lake
What do I know about fishing? Absolutely nothing.
So, when I was presented with the opportunity to go ice fishing over the holidays with family friends in the Okanagan I couldn’t resist.
We drove out to Osprey Lake, a large body of fresh water located halfway between Summerland and Princeton. I jumped out of the truck bundled up in my warmest layers, took a deep breath of the cold air, and was ready for a new adventure.
We walked down to the water's edge where I cautiously stepped onto the snow-covered ice. Everyone else in our small group pushed on full steam ahead towards the middle of the frozen lake.
I hesitated, fearing the ice wouldn't support my weight. A few careful steps later I realized the ice was still intact, not violently breaking and cracking like a scene from a nightmare. In fact, the ice here at Osprey Lake is about 30cm thick at this time of year. That means it’s strong enough to support snowmobiles driving over it.
We arrived in the middle of the lake, where the wind whipped at our faces and I could already feel my toes getting cold in my hiking boots.
Within no time at all we (“we” meaning the men in our group) had drilled a few holes, speared a couple of worms on the hooks and dropped our fishing lines into the icy blue water. Now, it was time to wait – and wait and wait and wait.
The icy wind would not let up. After a few minutes of standing around eagerly staring into the hole in the ice, the initial excitement began to wear off when nothing happened. I figured it was time to add some foot and hand warmers to my boots and gloves.
It’s amazing the effect warm extremities can have on your mood when you’re freezing your butt off in the great Canadian outdoors!
It suddenly dawned on me that the next few hours would probably be spent sitting, waiting, hoping for something to bite. After having no luck with the original holes, we ended up drilling several more in search of a better position.
The new holes were indeed luckier because a short while later we had our first catch, a little trout!
Ice fishing has been around for a long time. It originates from countries with a colder climate like Canada, Russia, Norway, Poland, Germany, and many other northern European nations.
Early forms of ice fishing were a necessary part of hunting in Nordic communities. Today, ice fishing has evolved into a social event and also a sport.
Some countries enjoy ice fishing in nothing more than warm clothing sitting on a stool or chair (like we did), while others enjoy the sport from a portable shack or heated tent on the ice.
Standing in the middle of the open expanse of the frozen lake, I was faced with plenty of time to think and be inside my own head.
Living in a big city, full of lights and sounds, it was a refreshing change to spend time out here in the freezing cold, without a cell phone, computer, or any other modern distraction, to simply enjoy being in the moment.
This is the true beauty of ice fishing.
If you're interested in going ice fishing at Osprey Lake there are a few things you'll need to get started. You will need to purchase a fishing license, which can easily be obtained at the Canadian Tire store in Penticton or online. It costs around $10 for a one-day license and will allow you bring home up to 5 fish.
Always be sure to check the weather and conditions at Osprey Lake beforehand as they may be quite different from the weather in the Okanagan Valley at the time. Dress accordingly, it can get very cold especially with the wind. From my experience, hand and foot warmers are a must.
Later in the day we ended up catching one more trout, which was part of a delicious dinner the following evening.
As the afternoon wore on, I felt like I had taken part in a truly unique winter activity. Ice fishing is a reprieve from the constant craziness of the modern world, an introspective activity to enjoy in the frozen outdoors, an opportunity to be inside your own head and to be at peace with your thoughts and surroundings.
If you haven't tried ice fishing before, I highly encourage you do!