By Lisa Roper
Born and raised in Lac La Biche, I feel very fortunate to enjoy the year-round playground that supports many of my authentic outdoor adventures. With so many options — provincial parks, beaches, outdoor attractions, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, ice fishing, rodeos, museums with historic sites, hiking trails, golf, Lakeland Canoe Circuit and so much more — you can literally choose your own outdoor adventure(s).
I recently came across the saying, “Life is simple, just add water.” Where is this easier to do than the Lac La Biche Region, with more than 150 lakes? I have fished many of them, however, my favourite is Lac La Biche itself. It is a large, scenic lake and home to walleye, Northern Pike, perch, burbot, and Lake Whitefish. With 10 boat launches situated around the 234 kilometre-squared lake, it makes getting out onto the water easy no matter where you are.
In 2005, Alberta Environment and Parks undertook a 10 effort to restore the fish in Lac La Biche Lake. According to the Lac La Biche Fisheries Restoration Program Summary Report, this program had two main objectives: to recover the walleye population and improve the overall size and structure of the fish community, as well as improve fishing opportunities for future generations.
I have firsthand knowledge that the restoration program is successful, as I have spent hundreds of days both open-water and ice fishing at Lac La Biche; each year it seems to get better insofar as the quality and quantity of fish I am able to land, with this past year being one of my best seasons yet.
Lac La Biche comprises two large basins. The East Basin has more islands, and water depth can change very quickly, while the West Basin is much deeper and has less consistent bottom structure. The water level and season determines where I fish, however in July and August, you will mostly find me fishing the West Basin.
One of my favourite types of fish to target is walleye for its potential size and consistent action. They can be challenging to catch due to their sensitivity to light, but worth the time and effort. They have a beautiful gold and olive colour, with white bellies and a white section on the lower lobes of their tails. I have found the best time to target them is early morning, dusk, or during daylight hours if the water is murky and the wind is blowing, which helps reduce the light penetrating the water. In my experience, underwater structures like shelves, deeper pools, sunken trees and weed beds provide me with a better chance at setting a hook on a walleye. I also enjoy fishing for Northern Pike, burbot and perch, which can be found in the lake as well.
There are many reasons for my love of fishing that go beyond the bite at the end of my line. Sometimes it is the experience of connecting with family and friends, others it may be the much-needed alone time to escape and slow life down. Sometimes it’s to remember the past, and still other times I fish to forget. It’s the grounding connection I feel with nature, the powerful sunrises and sunsets, the cry of a loon or the elegance of a pelican moving through the air only inches from the top of the water. All of this and more motivates me to keep going back to the water to find myself and the fish.
There is always so much to do in the Lac La Biche Region; whether you are looking to escape, explore or experience, there is an adventure waiting for you on or off the water.