There's always a few who make what I do in the winter time look reckless to the average person. Last Friday the local headlines shouted out "27 Stranded on Ice Floe on Lake Simcoe". I was not then and will never be one of those foolhardy soles who risk their lives for the sake of a few fish. These knuckle-heads were trying to extend the shortened deep water whitefish and lake trout season by fishing a stones throw from open water a mile out from shore and had to be rescued by helicopter. Who knows where their equipment, snowmobiles and ATV's are right now, but I'd guess about a hundred feet down! Like the oldtimers from my youth I'm tempted to shout out "There aught-a be a law!" but the way this province's government seems to listen to crackpots, my winter leisure time may just be legislated to death soon enough.
Keeping in mind last weeks mild temperatures and high winds, Tackle Shop and I decided to stay away from the big ice and opted for a more stable, smaller venue, Little Lake in the north end of Barrie. We were assure by Penny at Rack n Reel Bait and Tackle that there was still shore access to Little and 12 to 14 inches of ice, so we bought a couple dozen 4 inch shiners and gladly hit the ice for what was likely our last hardwater outing of the year.
We walked several hundred yards out from shore, the sound of cracking ice rumbling like thunder, music to my ears as the sub freezing temperatures were causing the ice sheet to expand. Less than 15 minutes after setting my tip down, the alarm bells jingled the arrival of a hungry pike. In my haste to answer the call from 30 feet away I'd forgotten an old lesson of pike fishing in shallow water...stealth. As I reached for the rod, pointing down into the hole, the line went slack and I'd missed my chance. In fact it was my only opportunity at landing a snot-rocket for the whole day.
After an uneventful four hours, I awoke from a daydream to hear TS chanting the now familiar mantra "take it, TAKE IT" and then an un-printable expletive as he retrieved his rig missing two 4" shiners. Seconds later his other rod spasmed in it's holder and after a brief battle a 27" pike laid on the ice.
With the forecast showing temperatures from 10 to 20 C (50 to 70 F) over the next week, I regrettably have to admit that the hardwater season has drawn to a premature close. Trout season doesn't open for another 5 weeks except in the lower reaches of the Lake Ontario tributaries so my next few weekends are up in the air.