When Fisheries and Ocean released an advertisement late last year on winter angling, it included a one-month extension of the ice fishing season on two Kings County lakes and on Meadow Pond in Hants County. The handbook you get with your angling license has the winter season on these waters running from January 1 to February 28. The Fisheries and Oceans notice listed the winter season for Silver Lake, Sunken Lake and Meadow Pond running from January 1 until the end of March.
More than a few anglers missed this change and some were miffed by what they say was poor communications by Fisheries and Oceans. “As far as I’m concerned, there was no advance notice the ice fishing season would run in March,” one angler said. “I found out by word of mouth.”
Several anglers told me the same thing. Kentville angler Gord MaGee said he didn’t see any official notice on an extension of the ice fishing season. “I found out about it from other fishermen,” MaGee said, “but one angler did tell me he saw an announcement in the paper.”
I may be wrong about this but apparently the powers that be – read Fisheries and Oceans – may have neglected to pass word down the line on the season extension; and they didn’t get enough publicity out to anglers in Kings and Hants. Also, while fisheries isn’t in their bailiwick, staff of the Kentville branch of Natural Resources should have been aware of the extension. However, they weren’t aware of any changes, Coldbrook angler Jerry Bishop said, and he wasn’t happy about what he experienced when he called them.
Right or not, Bishop figured Natural Resources was the right place to call when he heard rumours the winter season had been extended in Silver Lake. “I was told bluntly there was no ice fishing on silver Lake in March. I was also told that if there was, no one had informed them (Natural Resources) about it.”
Not satisfied with being put off, Bishop said he called Ottawa and was given the provincial number for Fisheries and Oceans. When he reached someone at the provincial level, he was told the winter season had been extended to March 31. “They were surprised,” Bishop said in effect, “that Natural Resources staff weren’t aware of the season extension.”
Bottom line, I’m thinking about putting up an egg on your face award for this tempest in a teapot, winter season fiasco. Who should get it? Fisheries and Oceans for not getting the winter season changes at Sunken Lake, Silver Lake and Meadow Pond in the angling handbook and not publicizing the changes adequately? Natural Resources perhaps, since the fisheries enforcement department works out of their Kentville location?
And maybe I’ve earned the award myself. For not being on the ball and using this column to notify anglers that some waters, those named above, now have a January, February and March winter angling season.