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Things You Should Know About Ice Fishing in NS

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Ice fishing can be very cool. And so much fun.

Go on, bundle up and get outside this winter! Your next adventure should be ice fishing. There are a few things you need to know - so check out our tips below and get a move on your next outdoor experience.


TIP: KNOW THE ICE Don't take chances here, know what you're looking for and understand what that means.

Halifax Search & Rescue suggest that an ice depth of 10cm (the Canadian Red Cross suggests 15cm) is what you're looking for - on new, clear, hard ice. There are a few factors that can make judging this difficult. Often, ice thickness is not really consistent, and moving waters underneath will affect what is deemed safe. Here's their site on ice safety:, and HRM staff test various lakes for ice thickness and update on this page - so helpful! :



You don't need much to get out and enjoy some winter ice fishing.

Use a small rod - look for an ultra light rod or an ice fishing rod. These are readily available at retailers like Cabelas, but also your local Canadian Tire should have these in stock.

An auger will be the next piece of gear - but this may be optional - popular lakes will likely have several holes that you can use.

Ice fishing is vertical fishing, so you need a lure or small jig head with a twirly twisty tail (shown below), or a wax worm.

The jig head will likely be enough bait, but you can use earthworms (if you can find them!), or a small piece of shrimp seems to be another popular option.

There is a product called Power Bait (small balls of oil based resin and PVC), however we stay away from this stuff (personal choice).


TIP: GET A LICENCE, KNOW THE LIMITS AND WHERE TO GO There are plenty of winter fishing opportunities in NS, and there are regulations to follow. A fishing license in Nova Scotia is valid April 1 until March 31, and you need your license on you when fishing.

Winter fishing season is Jan 1 - March 31, and the province has identified waters that are open for angling (regardless of ice cover).


Speckled trout, 2 fish/day Rainbow trout, 2 fish/day Chain pickerel, 100/day Perch (white and yellow), 25/species per day


Check out the essential Anglers Handbook, page 56 & 57 for a list of waters open for winter fishing. Here's a quick link to the handbook.


TIP: LOOK AT THE SITES THAT LOCALS USE Nova Scotia Ice fishing is a public FB group with over 3000 members - lots of info sharing, photos, Q&As.


On a final note, think about what you're doing and set an example for the next guy. Only catch what you need - limits may be high, but will you eat what you catch? Think about what you're going to do with your catch, before you begin. Take care of the fish that you do catch - don't keep it out of the water for too long - it will freeze!

Fish are less active during this time of year, so more finesse fishing is required when ice fishing. You're trying to entice a nibble and then work from there. Go alone for some solitude, bring a friend and a thermos, or take your kids, and enjoy the moment of being outdoors in this season. It's a rewarding experience that you can look back upon.

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