Monday, February 20, 2012

Goodbye Gilford, Hello Sibbald Point

   Over the past week, here in southern Ontario, we've actually managed more "snow events" than thaws, and even though it's two months past the date I'd  have to say "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas". Saturday morning was greeted with all the enthusiasm of an eight year old riding out a sugar high on Christmas morning as Tackle Shop and I were taking a break from our usual Saturday morning routine and attending the annual Spring Fishing Show at a local convention centre.

   For many years it had been a great way to fill out the depleted tackle and fly boxes on the cheep and meet a few fishing celebrities, but if it hadn't been for TS winning the tickets on  a message board joke contest I would have asked for a refund. There were only a handful of tackle vendors participating and very few deals to be had. My biggest regret was that after leaving the show I realized local blogger and tournament angler Ashley Rae at was demonstrating her new found kayaking prowess. Ashley is one of those rare anglers who eagerly sets personal challenges and then accomplishes them with spectacular results.

   After leaving the show with little more than a free newspaper and a pack of Fat Boy Jigs  TS and I headed north to Simcoe for another round of perch fishing. The persistent morning rain turned to snow immediately after leaving the city and it wasn't long before we were faced with stop and go traffic for the next 30 miles in near white-out conditions. The adverse conditions had little effect on the turnout at the lake though as Perch City appeared to be busting at the seams with activity.

   Tackle Shop and I must have been spoiled over the last five weeks pulling our sleds over bare ice, because when suddenly faced with dragging our equipment a mile out through six inches of drifting powder we both simultaneously voiced the opinion we were either too old for this crap or we had altogether too much stuff! Feeling like one of Pharaoh's older, chain smoking slaves working on a pyramid, I'd  quickly decided that where I stood was good enough to catch the multitudes of perch below the ice.

   Over the next four hours we'd managed only about 30 tight lipped tiny perch each, which was about as good as everyone else was doing. The day turned out to be a complete wash out except for some info we got earlier at the show that the main lake basin had finally frozen over and we were no longer confined to this particular bay and it's tiny perch.
   The next morning saw us walking out onto the main lake from Sibbald Point Provincial Park, the site of my introduction to winter perch fishing many years ago. Sibbald Point extends 300 yards out from the windswept shore as a field of fist sized rocks that ends in 20 feet of water and is replaced by an extensive sand flat.

   The area doesn't hold fish all the time like Gilford, but is more like a drive through diner. We set up near the transition area and within the first minute I lost a 12-13 inch fish right at the hole. Several minutes later I landed my first jumbo of the year, a fat 12 incher that probably weighed as much as half my entire catch from the previous day!

   The action was sporadic over the next few hours with long periods of inactivity followed by a feeding frenzy when the next school came through. I eventually resorted to my old habit of hole jumping, moving with the schools of fish. I'm not sure whether it produced any better than staying in one spot but it kept me busy trying to anticipate their movements. By mid afternoon we'd caught 50-70 fish each, ridiculously low by Gilford standards, but iced 18 respectably sized fish for dinner.

potato salad, baked beans and perch fillets fried in bacon grease
We'd heard about the ice conditions at Sibbald Point from Doug Poirier who's organized a charity derby at the park on March 3 8am-1pm. Check it out at: Perchin for MS and hope to see  you there!


  1. can't seem to get my ind off that plate of food no matter how hard I try. God everything tastes better in or with bacon, right?

  2. John
    After reading your post I discovered something; ice fishing is no different as far as the habits of the fish are concerned as being on an open lake without ice. ---in other words the fish turn on and off, being there at the right time when the hit is on can be a bonanza and being there when the bite is off can be boring to say the least. I learned long time ago that is what keeps me coming back for more, the anticipation of the next bit. After a long day on the water, I know that great looking meal hit the spot. Really enjoyed the read.

  3. That plate of food looks delicious. Even I would brave the ice for it.

  4. You missed a chance to meet Ashley? I would have paid a second time just for that. She's cute as a button.


  5. Really enjoyed the pictures that went along with the good reading on this post. Especially, that last one! Perch fillets are tough to beat anytime. Question? What type of ice rod holder are you guys putting to use there? Are you satisfied with them?

  6. Blake
    It seems everything these days goes into the fry pan with only live once.

    I catch more fish consistently during the winter, you just have to adapt to changing conditions.

    It was delicious, and totally worth the chilly fingers.

    I live an hour away from Ashley and fish her neighbourhood several times per year...we'll eventually meet.

    TS uses a store bought holder of thick wire bent to an angled base, rising at a 45 degree angle with a coil for the rod seat. I made my own that folds flat and teeter-totters, see Perch Jewelry Jan 14 2011. It's never failed me yet.