Monday, January 28, 2013

January Ups and Downs

  WOW. What a weather roller coaster we've been on in Southern Ontario in the first few weeks of January!  
    Three weeks ago Tackle Shop and I stayed off the ice as record high temperatures drove the adventurous to wear short sleeves and the foolhardy to be rescued from thinning ice.

    A mid week cool down was enough for TS and I to get out on seven inches of Little Lake ice without worrying about testing our survival suit's flotation capabilities. We avoided the cluster of anglers mid lake and concentrated on the area closer to shore where we had some luck two weeks previous.

   Once our  holes were drilled I proceeded  to rig my tip down with a 5" shiner minnow, adding a new feature... an electronic alarm designed for carp fishing. You just strap it on the rod with the o-ring, loosen off the drag and loop the line over the roller. When a fish strikes it pulls the line, setting off a piercing whistle and red LED light.

   With my set line ready for action I rigged up a light jigging rod with a small silver spoon with a #10 bead head fly on an eight inch fluorocarbon dropper, hoping to cash in on some crappie action.

   After fifteen minutes of fruitless jigging, my alarm announced some action on the tip down. I resisted the urge to race to my rig because previous experience on shallow water ice fishing for pike had taught me that too much noise will scare the fish and cause it to drop the bait. The rod's wild bouncing stopped just as I was about to set the hook. Thinking I'd missed another chance at icing my first pike of the hard water season I reeled in the line to check on the minnow and found a ten inch crappie with just the tail of the minnow sticking out of it's mouth!

  I never did find any takers on my finesse presentation that day... but the set lines were golden, scoring two pike each for TS and myself, the largest being 24".
This one was kept for dinner
   On our way home we checked out conditions on Cooks Bay and arrived just in time to see dozens of nervous anglers retreating off 4" of rapidly deteriorating ice.

   The next week was the polar opposite to the previous, if you'll pardon the pun, with overnight temperatures nudging -25C. I'd just started up the midnight shift at the factory after doing a stint on days since mid November and the prospect of hitting some solid Simcoe ice was enough to get me out after work Friday morning. Instead of battling the arctic cold all day, TS and I decided to rent a hut from Rob at Gilford Yellow Huts .

   We stopped at a local bait shop a few miles from the lake and when it was time to leave the van wouldn't start. Luckily we got several boosts and managed to get to the garage across the street where we found out the alternator was shot. Now get this...Rob the hut operator drove to the garage and took us out to the lake!!

   Just before we called, Rob had hooked into a big toothy critter while jigging for perch but lost it at the hole. This was all the encouragement I needed to put a 5" sucker minnow on my set line. We spent several hours working hard for the 40 to 50 small perch we caught, so when Rob checked up on us he suggested we do a bit of exploring.

  We left shanty town in a cloud of billowing snow and traveled about a mile to the southwest, drilling the occasional hole here and there to find the right depth. I decided to work a productive hole while Rob and TS were farther out doing more drilling and as soon as I'd made my first drop my line started to peel of the reel. After several long runs I managed to ice a nice 26" pike and what do you suppose he was hooked on? A #10 bead head fly!

  Once a new productive area was found Rob moved one of his huts to the area and the three of us caught small perch at will. At one point a school of herring flitted through and TS managed to catch and release one.  We fished until just before sundown when Rob pointed out something unusual on the ice...
  A great snowy owl chowing down on some leftover minnows!  I could only get about a hundred yards away before it flew off and once again I find myself cursing 3X optical zoom.
   Rob collected up all his other customers, one pair up from Ohio, and dropped them off at the shoreline. Once all the transactions were complete he drove us back to the garage where we found the van repaired and even heated up and waiting for us! Talk about service. Read Tackle Shop's take on the adventure at Lake Simcoe Message Board .

  The next day we decided to stay closer to home and try Frenchmans Bay in Pickering. I'd heard of good catches of crappie, pike and trout through the ice there this year and a ten minute drive from my house seemed in order after the previous day's adventure. TS brought along his son Sid the Kid, hoping he'd be a regular chip off the old tackle box and take to the ice, but in the four hours we spent there we saw four perch landed out of close to a hundred anglers. Sitting back and waiting for the action to start isn't for everybody, and to tell the truth I'd lost interest after the second hour.

   We packed up and hit the road for home, but not before visiting The Pie Lady. A lone house on a country road just north of the city limits that has a pie stand at the end of the driveway filled with all sorts of delights. I bought an apple caramel and a raspberry chocolate pie. DELICIOUS.   


  1. John, that's a beauty of a pike, but I've said it before, Way too cold for me. I like my winters in the low 80's.
    Tight Lines

  2. I guess that if you live in the cold like you do up there, ice fishing is no big deal as long as the ice is thick enough. Me, I'll stick to the shore.

  3. Its really a fantastic place for kids for fishing.

  4. Hey, sorry it took so long but I finally saw your comment on my old fishing blog. I like what you have going on here! I've moved my activities to a new blog, feel free to check it out.