Spike in ice fishing in Manitoba prompts RCMP reminder

WINNIPEG — The popularity of ice fishing this season has prompted RCMP to issue a reminder that any illegal activity on the ice could leave you on the hook.

Colourful shacks lined the Red River on Louis Riel Day as Manitobans enjoyed some holiday fishing.

“I’m loving it,” said Jeff Egan, who was ice fishing near Selkirk, Man. “Spending time on the hard water doesn’t get better than this.”

Not even the frigid temperatures could deter the large crowd on the Red River. 

“Like my son said, you have to dress in layers, wear good boots and don’t be scared of the cold,” said Nathan Ballantine, who has been ice fishing for 20 years and decided to take his kids out for the day.

As Manitobans brave the cold and go to the river for some ice fishing, Mounties are reminding them that alcohol and cannabis use is illegal on the ice. 

In a recent news release, RCMP said, “With all sorts of vehicles out and about, no determined roadway, people skiing, walking, and skating, and places where there is open water, the ice can be a challenge to drive on at the best of times. When a driver is impaired, that challenge becomes downright dangerous.”

The fine for having open alcohol on the ice is $672. 

Fishers taking to the river will also need to be careful not to litter.

“Don’t leave anything in the water because that is disrespectful to the environment,” said Bien Marasigan, who was packing up his ice fishing tent.

Jeff Egan, another fisher, said, “If you see something pick it up. Just try and keep it the way you found it, nice and neat.” 

Whether they were reeling in a big one or not getting a single bite, everyone said they were having fun.

“It’s an awesome sport, and I think everyone should try it out,” said Josh Jerao as his friend showed off a large pickerel. “Once you catch that first fish, you’re pretty much hooked.” 

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