Our destination: Lake Simcoe. Our quarry: perch, with the possibility of herring, smelt, whitefish, lake trout, ling, bass, pike, musky, walleye, carp... and so on. Last Saturday was our first trip of the hard water season to the big lake and we opted for convenience and speed, fishing in downtown Barrie, as it was an unplanned trip nestled between some not-so-ice-friendly weather conditions. In the past Barrie had produced some mediocre days so this weekend (possibly the last weekend on ice) we decided to go to a known hot spot...Innisfil's 6th Line, about five miles south of Barrie on Cook's Bay. Our last outing on the ice for 2010 was at this location exactly a year ago with non stop action and we were hoping for a repeat performance.
At this time last year on Simcoe the ice was still relatively stable but finding access to the ice was the real problem. As we approached the end of 6th Line, I was relieved to see a line of parked vehicles, suggesting the ice hadn't receded too far from the shoreline. Upon closer inspection, we found someone had placed a pallet along the beach that a dozen other anglers had used to get out on the ice. Right next to the pallet was a melt water inflow eroding the ice and my main concern was not about getting out but being able to get back to shore by mid afternoon. We'd tackle that problem later, for now we were going perching!
I pulled our sleds out over the rocks and pallet onto solid ice while Tackle Shop parked the van. We walked out just over 100 yards, drilled our holes in 16 inches of semi-porous ice over 38 feet of water, and were immediately into a school of hungry perch. TS went with his usual set up of two rods at arms length in holders, tipped with shiner minnows, while I quickly realized the futility of trying to constantly monitor two rods with the abundance of hungry and willing fish beneath our feet.
|Halis - panfish kryptonite!|
My tactic for the day was to bounce from hole to hole, following the schools, using a single ultra light rod with a Finnish, Hali jigging spoon tipped with maggots, small pieces of minnow, or the eyeballs from the perch I'd already caught. As it turned out, moving was unnecessary as there were fish everywhere. I'd landed over a hundred 8 to 9 inch perch in the first hour and a half but only kept a half dozen.
Meanwhile, TS was having the same action, but using two rods with live minnows, he was busy re-baiting every few minutes and his catch rate suffered. On the other hand, because of the live minnows he did manage to ice a nice 20 inch herring and of course there was always the chance of hooking something significantly larger.
As the day progressed and the catch numbers climbed beyond all expectations, it became clear the real "jumbo" perch (12 to 15 inches) were not to be found in this immediate area. By early afternoon, Tackle Shop and I started checking out how the other anglers were doing. Perch were being caught by the hundreds in 6 to 60 feet of water with only a handful of jumbos iced. By mid afternoon we were ready to call it a day, having iced an estimated 600 fish between the two of us and keeping only a couple dozen for dinner. Sometimes is just good for the soul to get out on a late winter sunny day and catch tons and tons of fish!
|My keepers, 8-11 inches|
|Mid afternoon visitor|