Monday, January 28, 2008

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing on Lake Simcoe, (photo by Andre)
Click to enlarge the view of this all-Canadian fisherman!

I visited my daughter this past weekend and on the 90 minute drive to her place passed a man-made lake and conservation area where a river has been dammed. The sky and ground blended together as light snow fell and a mist added to the featureless landscape. Out on the lake were groups of people, some in small huts, others huddled over small holes as they fished through the ice. The weather has been quite cold for over a week, but we had a complete thaw earlier this month. I doubt I would have trusted the surface to be thick enough to support a crowd.

Ice fishing near a dam on the Thames River, Ontario

When I returned home yesterday, I noticed a co-worker and friend of my husband had posted some pictures of his weekend on his Flickr site. Andre is an avid fisherman and enjoys photography too. I emailed him and asked if I could feature some of his pictures in this post. He replied,

"Hi Ruth. Feel free to use any pictures you find useful in your blog. If you have any questions concerning ice fishing or its culture (we are a different breed) I would be glad to be of help."

A different breed indeed! That comment made me chuckle. Winter fishing is not for everyone.

Inside Andre's Hut

Andre wrote again, "
We went to Lake Simcoe near a small town of Lefroy. The ice was about 5 to 6 inches thick. We were over about 20 to 25 feet of water. There was plenty of snowmobile and ATV activity on the ice. I usually try to go out every weekend from late January to the end of February. There is something about getting out in the wide open spaces of a big lake that attracts a lot of people."

Andre's Portable Ice Hut

Andre's hut is on the right and his catch is thrown on the ice in front of the zippered door. It was a good day for fishing. These huts fold down onto an attached sled for easy set up on the ice surface. Fishing can be relatively comfortable with shelters from the wind, portable heaters, food, drink and motorized transport on and off the ice if you want.

I have spent many hours in a fishing boat, but have yet to spend any time ice fishing. I like open spaces and the outdoors, but a hut would be a little confining for my taste. And those stories you hear on the news each winter about vehicles falling through ice, or ice floes breaking off from the land... Five to six inches of ice is not enough for me! But then, I cannot really judge unless I try it.

Ice Hut Village, Lake Simcoe, Ontario
(Photo by Andre)


  1. Ruth, I really enjoyed this. I don't know why, but I've always been fascinated by ice fishing. Reminds me of the movie "Grumpy Old Men". I guess the danger involved doesn't bother the experienced fishermen. Great post and thanks to the gentlemen who shared.

  2. Ice fishing is popular in BC's north too, but it doesn't seem to have the same degree of community and organization as it does in the east. You generally see one or two people bundled up well beside their snowmobile, rather than the tents or huts.

  3. I sure wouldn't be fun for me.

  4. That's fascinating Ruth, but like you, I'd be listening for any "cracking" sounds the entire time!

  5. Anonymous7:23 am GMT-5

    As a kid, we were in the lake all summer swimming and on the lake all winter skating. There were always ice fisherman way out there with their little huts. I really think it was colder when were were kids. There is still open water on the lake right now...

  6. Now Ruth, I'm wondering what kind of self-respecting ice fisherman *in Canada* would be drinking Budweiser instead of LaBatt's Blue?

  7. Mary- Thanks. I have never seen that movie but will have to check it out, and will make sure Andre knows you enjoyed it.

    Jean- I don't mind moving in the cold, but sitting is something else. I think the huts are quite warm.

    K&M- I didn't realize how big it was around here either. I imagine your ice is thick enough with the extreme cold you have had this week.

    AC- I think you are better in your band!

    Jayne- I have skated on ice-covered ponds, but with thicker ice than was reported on this post.

    WW- It is true that good ice is less frequently found now than in the past. Our temperatures fluctuate a lot and there is more road salt runoff in our water.

    RuthieJ- lol-never noticed that. Perhaps he is an American tourist. I will have to ask Andre to set him straight.

  8. I have always wondered how do they get through the ice to fish? I don't think ice fishing is for me though, I'd be listening for the ice cracking...

  9. I remember seeing ice fishermen as a child--on the frozen lakes in the Adirondacks where i grew up.
    Now we're lucky if we get ONE day's ice good enough to skate upon.
    We had it--Sunday!

  10. Anonymous9:25 pm GMT-5

    How wonderful and I have been visiting some of our Ice fishermen recently! It's real fun being out on the ice! But I doubt that I would go out today after our rain and wind storm coming!

  11. Anonymous9:47 pm GMT-5

    This looks like serious business. Nice to see what they're doing on Lake Simcoe. I have never been there, so thanks for the pictures. We had great fun when our children were young and we participated in the annual fishing derby held on the small lake here. This brings back fond memories. But, like Karen & Mike said, we didn't have huts.

  12. Ruth--most interesting, though--I must say--this is one experience I will read about and bypass trying to experience!

  13. Jaspenelle- There is a special ice cutting tool. I believe it is pictured beside the round hole in one of the pictures.

    Nina- Glad you got a chance to skate on natural ice. Skating outside of arenas and man-made rinks is becoming more and more unusual.

    Monarch- It has been quite the stormy 24 hours in Southern Ontario...rain, and now cold, cold winds. I think the ice will be OK for this weekend for the fisherman.

    April- It looks as if ice fishing is big business for sports outfitters. I haven't heard of ice fishing derbies, but they likely exist.

    KGMom- There are some things that are just better to read about!

  14. I've done my share of winter fishing-it can be tough but if you have the proper set up it can be enjoyable.-I've heard of people who drive their vehicles on the ice up in Maine and then sometimes get stuck as chunks of ice break away.

  15. Ruth,

    I enjoyed learning more about ice fishing and your friend's photos are great. I'm glad he let you feature them.

    I have been fishing thousands of times in my life, but never ice fishing. One day I'd like to give it a try.


  16. Fabulous! It reminds me of a Saturday morning lying on a pile of reindeer skins under a thin blue sky lazily fishing in a frozen Finnish lake
    I caught nothing, except the fishing bug!

  17. Larry- I figured you would have tried ice fishing. The ice breaking away problem happens on the Great Lakes too. Very scary thought!

    Mary- Go for the winter fishing. Just find someone with a warm hut and comfortable seating!

    Mouse- Your experience sounds so romantic. I am sure it would have been good and cold in spite of the reindeer skins.

  18. Anonymous4:23 pm GMT-5

    Haha, those portable ice huts reminds me of portable loos in my country.

  19. LFL- I am guessing at your country of origin...The do look like Johnny on the Spots, or Porta-potties as we call them here.


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