Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Last Hoorah?

The final approach?
   You could cut the apprehension with a knife yesterday morning as Tackle Shop and I made our final approach to Lake Simcoe and it's shrinking ice sheet. Early morning temperatures had quickly risen from the freezing mark to around 50 F with an intense sun and brisk winds from the west. The bottom line on this beautiful spring day was could we actually get on the ice or an even better question, once on the ice, could we find a way off in the afternoon? Once again the apprehension was put to rest within a block of the lake as a line of parked vehicles indicated there was indeed access. As it turned out the vehicle closest to the lake was that of a Natural Resources officer doing spot checks for catches and licenses. It was only a matter of time before we ran into an enforcement officer, I'm just surprised it happened on what is likely the last outing of the hard water season.

  As we unloaded the van I made the rash decision to travel light and not put on my cold weather suit, a decision I would regret within a few hours. It's funny how I always ignore my own advice of over-dressing for the weather and removing pieces as needed. Anyways... feeling lighter and thankful for another on ice shot at the pre-spawn schools of perch, we walked 150yrds out, drilled three holes, and immediately started catching fish. Within the first ten minutes TS and I had landed dozens of good sized perch and a herring each. The bite was fairly consistent all day long with the fish taking anything offered, but the larger fish were still nowhere to be found with the days largest (just under 12") caught by TS.

  By mid afternoon the weather conditions had taken their toll on the ice and me. I was chilled to the bone by the constant buffeting of the damp wind and the ice had taken on a granular texture easily scraped away with the tip of a toe. As we packed up and made our way back to the launch area, our escape from the ice was impaired by a stretch of open water and we had to walk a plank to make it safely back to dry land. In the coming weeks there will be those who will stubbornly try to extend the season and I'm sure to hear of a few of them in the news. I'm not actively pursuing a career in death defiance so it's time to say goodbye to ice fishing for another year.
Just a few holdouts
  On the trip home Tackle Shop and I decided to check out reports of open water crappie catches in the Holland River at the south end of the lake. There were plenty of frigid shore anglers battling the wind and a few boats working the river, but we didn't see anything "fishy" going on. Winter is just beginning to relinquish it's grip on this part of the country and now that the hardwater season is officially over for me I guess it's time to patch that hole in my waders, dust off and restock my fly boxes and start thinking about open water seriously.

 Although there were 25% fewer trips than last year, hardwater 2011 was a fantastic success with new areas scouted out, new anglers indoctrinated in the ways of ice, reacquainted with old friends and areas, personal bests attained, information towards new opportunities like salmon and trout through the ice for next year, and most importantly... a reason to love winter!


  1. Adios ice...glad you enjoyed your season and shared it with us readers.
    Good luck in the soft-water season, I'll be reading.

  2. Well John i can understand you having to call it a day for the hard water fishing, But its a bit much when you have to walk the plank for making a decision, Bertter to be safe than sorry, I think everyone has enjoyed the ride along with you through ice fishing season, And now we are looking forward to you complaining about the heat and flys of summer,
    Good luck John,

  3. Hey John
    I was out in the same area on Saturday and also drove home down Hwy 400 knowing that was it for the season, did I mention I was smiling. The size was not as good as the week before as our day started off Gilford Rd and we headed south with little action and very small fish in 10, 14, 20 and 25 feet of water all over South Cooks Bay. After 2 hrs we got off the ice and headed North and saw your van parked, you were out on the ice already. The action was good and the size was too and for me the most enjoyable part was using my artifical bug in eight feet of water catching non stop.

    Well done on your posts and it was nice to meet to you this year. Your friends suggestion I go to the Dead Fisher web site was well rewarded and I look forward to future postings.
    1/2 Day Ray

  4. John,
    That first photo must be beautiful in June. Blue waters, and lots of greenery.

  5. You fly fish too? I knew I liked you...

  6. Raz-Thanks man, back at ya. Stay dry.

    Paddy-I'd love to continue the season but there's other, safer opportunities out there now. Heat? Flies? I'm thinking a clouser minnow for pike!

    Ray-Glad to meet you. One thing I love about the ice are the people I meet on it, a lot friendlier and forthcoming than openwater anglers. Next time drop by & say hello.

    BRK TRT-The surrounding area is all rolling farmland but the lake is 3 blocks deep with very expensive cottages that are very protective of their privacy, so there's no point in visiting when everything greens up.

    Blake-Are you kidding? My 4pc Sage goes with me everywhere during openwater. Bass, pike, carp, gar are a few of my favorites. Trout are smarter than me!

  7. Hey John. Now I breath a sigh of relief that you're done on the ice. Any friend that ventures out on the ice scares the hell out of me. I wouldn't want to become a statistic.


  8. Still looks too cold for me. Give me the hot African sun when I'm fishing. I'm very all I'm allergic to cold, standing on that ice would leave me to scared to fish.