Ice fishing for perch could be a thing on P.E.I. in 2021

The P.E.I. government is exploring opening a recreational white perch fishery for next winter.

‘We do have to protect our brook trout’

Smelt fishing is a time-honoured tradition on P.E.I., and there may be a new fish to go after next year. (Roger Deveau)

The P.E.I. government is exploring opening a recreational white perch fishery for next winter.

Fishing for smelt through the ice of the Island's harbours and bays has been a popular winter pastime on the Island for decades. White perch congregate in different areas, more in estuaries and coastal ponds.

"It tends to be brackish water, so there's a mix of salt and freshwater," said provincial wildlife biologist Rosie MacFarlane.

"These can be fairly shallow, weedy areas."

There have been tests of the fishery before. A 2011 trial did not work out because the ice conditions were poor, but there was more success in 2018, with white perch caught in Johnstons River and Desroches Pond.

The rules that would surround the fishery are still being considered, with a particular focus on protecting other fish.

"Right now we're simply talking about white perch," said MacFarlane.

"We have what many people consider a world-class brook trout fishery and so that would have to be protected."

Islanders will have an opportunity to make comments and suggestions on the fishery. Final approval of any fishery would come from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


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