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Most people think that drilling a hole in the ice only to sit over it with fishing line in the water, watching your little piece of lake bottom anxiously awaiting that first (if any) fish to show up & bite your book is crazy. Add in the fact that most of us drive onto the lake with only the Grace Of God (and of course, ice safety and measuring the thickness first) keeping our trucks on the right side of the ice….well….you may as well send in the men with the white coats.

There’s usually a moment when I heartily concur with the crazy factor of ice fishing, usually about the time where my tush freezes to the 5 gallon pail I have been sitting on for hours.

Until a fish takes my bait..I haul it up gleefully…..and I remember why I go.

Then I get to experience how awesome it is to show my children their first Walleye outside of the giant tank at Bass Pro Shop in Calgary.

Mom holding a walleye fish together with her two kids

Mike caught his first Walleye since moving out west from Ontario. These little guys are just babies and they have to go back. Walleye have been so overfished in Alberta that most places you cannot keep them, especially any touristy lakes. We were at Sylvan Lake and were catching these little babies right before dark, thus the not-so-great picture quality.

It’s good to see the Walleye looking healthy! There were years in the past that they have been downright sickly looking in Sylvan Lake, that’s a hearty and hale little Walleye right there!

Back they went to swim another day.

man wearing a black coat and beanie hat holding a baby walleye fish

All the Walleye joy was nothing compared to being able to show my kids a burbot for the first time.

There’s nothing like your first burbot.

Burbot are almost scary looking, a creepy cross between the catfish and the eel with a serpentine-like body and a single barbel on the chin.  I’ll never forget seeing my first burbot and wondering how big these almost horrifying fish got…and perhaps this is where my dislike of lake swimming came from. Burbot are actually a close relative to cod and despite their eerie appearance are dang good eating.

woman in red coat holding a burbot fish with two hands

Burbot do get fairly large, so if you can hook into one of these, the kids will be thrilled.

My children were slightly horrified.


I now can check off  the box that says “scar children with a close up look at a burbot” . It’s in my Parental Fishing Guide that I have in my head.We were incredibly lucky and caught that burbot the very last day of the season! Talk about fisherman’s luck!

My sister took that big bad boy home and filleted him up.

woman in the kitchen holding a big burbot with both of her hands

Oh perch.

Perch, perch, perch.

Thank you for filling the void when there are no other fish to catch. Thank you for being greedy little guys that entertain my children when there are no other fish to be seen.

Of course, if you were kind enough to be jumbo perch, we would be taking you home to eat. Since you were downright stingy with your size, you get to live another day. We caught so many little perch this winter I hardly took any pictures of them.

close up of little perch

If you’re wanting more to read about our ice fishing escapades, my favorite post this winter was Ice Fishing With Kids Is Like Poking Yourself in the Eye With a Treble Hook. I have more posts coming, we had a whitefish bonaza of a day and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!


Ready For Some Fishing Minus the Ice Magpie

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. ViBenner says

    I’ve spent the last half hour reading all your fishing posts, great way to spend a snowy weekebd! The pictures are cheering me up.

  2. Beckie Swanson says

    What a great post! I love to see families getting outside in the winter time. I ALSO like to see women writing about ice fishing more, where are all the gals who are fishun’??? Love this, can’t wait for more!

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      Oh..we ice fishing “gals”  are here! I guess women just don’t write about it as much as men do? I don’t know, I haven’t really looked either…. I didn’t even have time to write this until the end of ice fishing season haha!  Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoy the site!!

      • Beckie Swanson says

        thekitchenmagpie I LOVE all the fishing posts! Take me with you! It’s hard being a momma and trying to get out there….maybe when the kids are older….

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