Thursday, February 24, 2011
Ice fishing - a popular pastime
Of course it's not safe to do this on many lakes any more given that global warming has meant lakes don't freeze the way they did even ten years ago. But in protected harbours - like this one in Collingwood on Georgian Bay you can still see the little huts.
Many years ago I went onto Lake Simcoe in the middle of winter and was invited to take a look inside. There was a small bench and a tiny little woodstove with a chimney vented to the outside to keep the hut warmer. And there was a large rectangle cut into the ice. I could easily see that the ice was at least a foot thick. There were a couple of fish on a line swimming around underneath the ice... caught but kept fresh for the angler until he took supper home.
Fishing on central Ontario lakes and up into the northern lakes is still popular - with several websites available for people to find a spot for this kind of outdoor activity. There are numerous lakes and several hut operators - though if you build your own you have to register it... fishing is a regulated sport after all to make sure we conserve our fish stock, just like everything else in the world today. Fish, no matter what kind they are, aren't endless as we used to think.
Anglers can go after muskie, pike, pickerel, yellow perch, sunfish, large and small mouth bass - though I understand that bass fishing is better during the summer.
Yesterday with the day so warm - it was well above zero C in the sun, I was amazed to see these huts still on Collingwood harbour ice. It took me back to visits to other lakes in winter during my childhood, when we could ski or snowshoe for miles on solid ice.
At one time people used to be able to walk or ski across Notawasaga Bay - about 15 miles (33 or so kilomtres) to the other side from Collingwood - all on ice. No longer. From the top of Blue Mountain - which I usually go over to get to the the town on the other side - I saw great stretches of ice pan - white and piled up. But elsewhere there was what looked like a skim of ice - not thick enough to support anyone and if the wind rose, it would break apart. There were tiny rivers of blue water throughout the thin ice as well.
But it was a beautiful sight. On the other side, Wasaga Beach's nine miles - the longest fresh water sandy beach in North America - lay buried under ice, but the blue hills and peninsula jutted into the Bay and the three islands were visible in the distance. A glorious winter day. One just perfect for outdoor sports - including ice fishing.
How do you spend beautiful days in winter? Hope you have tons of fun wherever you are and whatever you do!