It might seem a bit bizarre for some who come from a land that sees little or no cold weather, snow or icy weather temperatures. But here in the winter wonderlands of the great white, and “True North Standing Free” as the anthem goes, we find ways to pass the time and make the most of the colder temperatures and freezing rain conditions. Ice Fishing is a past-time that goes back many generations, from the Netherlands, Russia, Estonia and Germany. The Inuit and Eskimos as well historically have their own story on Ice Fishing. But in the last 20 years, Ice Fishing has become more than a popular sport in North America, particularly in Northern Ontario and Simcoe County mainstream communities.
You are basically using lines, hooks and/or spears through a hole in the ice over an open body of water to catch fish. To create a layer of thickness that is strong enough and frozen enough to sustain such a hole, AND the weight of equipment, people, vehicles, shelters and ice huts, you can imagine that it would be more than a few inches. The general expectation is at least 8 inches of thickness and is penetrated in many instances by power augers, though manual augers can also be used. Many cottage rentals and resorts boast great ice fishing, and in fact, some of the best overall fishing experiences have been captured during the ice fishing season, where the lake inhabitants are slower and finding sustenance is more difficult. Biting is more frequent.
Often the resorts and local service providers of area cottage rentals in the Simcoe, Muskoka, Parry Sound, and North Bay regions will rent out shelters by the hour, the afternoon, weekend or by the week for the avid ice angler. But don’t be too quick to sign up. Like I have always stated in my articles, “do your homework”, and always make the right inquiries. You do not want to be in danger of thin ice, or of limited fishing. You’ll want the right equipment to keep the holes from freezing too quickly, and the ability to skim the slush the lines can move and jerk a bit for biting purposes. Modern day equipment can be rented through the right sources, or hiring someone for the afternoon on “come with’s” are always a good way to learn and fish at the same time. It might be a good idea to try it to see if you like it before investing in a lot of expensive equipment. Rentals are always a good option for first timers. (And don’t forget your license! Anyone above the age of 18 must have the right license for fishing at ANY time of the year, cold or warm weather.) It really does a unique and fun experience to your cottage rental during the snowy times. Many prefer skiing at the Blue Mountains, or cross country at some of the long trails in the Ottawa Valley area. There really are an abundance of choices for the true northern lover. Ice fishing is one of those original ways for grandpas and grandsons to reconnect and tell each other old fishing stories from way back… It’s not always about catching the big one. Sometimes it’s just about spending quality time together.