Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ice Fishing in Northern Ontario

It's been warm up to now, and open water abounded until a few days ago. Still, there were foolhardy souls who ventured out onto the shifting, thin ice to try their hand at catching lake trout, smelt, whitefish in the Highlands lakes.

I was in Toronto and it got cold on Friday night — so when I drove back North on Saturday, I knew the ice fishing huts would be out on the new ice.

Not without problems, though: the Inn across the road, who put 7 huts out every year, had two of them stuck halfway out in the slushy surface, and two more still staging on the shore waiting for harder water.

Last year I saw some portable huts out there, this year there will be more. Costco sells a 6-man shelter for under $300 which is very well thought out. It's a pop-up and one person can put it up in a minute or two. The red one in the pictures below is a 2- or 4-person version.

Here's a visual story of a group of two guys and two girls who took one of these out on the ice and set it up. Too bad this doesn't end with a picture of a caught fish!

It was cold. The overnight temperature dropped to -24°C and it felt damp and chilly as well. I dressed for it — snow pants, down jacket, fur hat. I wasn't cold because of the exercise hiking out about 1 km across the ice.

Here they are on their way out to a spot over deep water.
The shelter is in that red bag.

Ice fishing means drilling a hole in the ice with an augur. By the way, it turns out that there was already about an 8" thickness of ice today.

Setting up the shelter. That's a propane heater in the milk crate at left.

A minute later, the pop-up is ready to go

Now to drill the holes. One's already done and one of the girls is fishing. They didn't all go in the shelter, as you can see they're dressed warmly.

With the shelter set up, you can see the effect of the heat rising from it on the background across the lake. That's not a Photoshop effect, the long lens accentuates the heat mirage effect.

Here they are, enjoying their afternoon on the ice. These people spend every weekend and otherwise free day out on the ice. I have to admit that I don't see the attraction, but there are hundreds of them out there all winter!

I ventured out again late afternoon but everyone was gone. It was too cold to hang out and shoot more pictures so I did the right thing: scooted back inside and threw another log on the fire. Watch for more additions to this story later in the season.

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