They call it the Golden Falcon. A beat up camper – from 1969, or maybe that’s just how the story goes – turned ice fishing shack. Scott Lachance and Andrew Taylor are inside, dri- no, fishing. The rig belongs to a friend.
“The whole trailer cost buddy a 40 pounder of Baileys and the stove, two flats of beer,” Mr. Lachance says. “Excellent trade.”
The Golden Falcon is among the hundreds of ice fishing shacks set up on Sylvan Lake, just outside Red Deer, Alta. The Big Jig Ice Fishing Derby is on, but no one is catching anything but a buzz.
“I’m hoping for a door prize,” says Mr. Lachance, a Sylvan Lake local. The pair don’t even have rods in the holes; the ice is so thick their auger couldn’t drill deep enough to hit water.
Albertans have embraced fishing as a COVID-friendly activity. The province sold more than 324,000 resident fishing licences as of the end of January, up 30 per cent over the previous fiscal year, according to Jason Penner, a spokesman for Alberta Environment and Parks. Illegal activity around fishing may also be on the rise. Between April 1, 2020 and Feb. 11, 2021, officials received 907 public complaints, compared with 620 in the prior fiscal year, which stretches to March 31.
Fishing is free – no licence required – in Alberta on Family Day long weekend and around Canada Day. On Sylvan Lake, there is a mix of old-school ice fishing shacks to glamping setups. Jen Leadly is celebrating her 40th birthday with three friends in a pop-up dome with a plywood floor and wood stove they rented for the weekend. Outside, it is around -20 C. Inside, Shawn Boers is barefoot, in shorts and a Pippen jersey.
Ms. Leadly is an experienced ice fisher, but their fancy rental has her rethinking her game. “There’s no going back to the other shack,” she says. Laura Tucker, a newbie, is impressed with the amenities. Firewood, rods, bait, cots, all there ready for them.
“It is like an all-inclusive resort when the sun shines through the dome,” she says, with a tuque on.
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