Tuesday, March 17, 2015



8:00 am
   There's been a change in the air here in Southern Ontario for the past week and it's called the onset of SPRING. Although winter was delayed somewhat compared to last year, it settled in just as brutal, and last week was the first time we experienced temperatures above freezing since New Years. Throughout Jan. and Feb., arctic temps and snow limited "run and gun" tactics to only the hardiest, leaving the rest of us immobile and huddled away in the comfort of pop ups and rental huts. 

   Last week was only the second time this season I threw off the confines of a hut, enjoying the freedom to roam the ice, and the first time this year I've had the opportunity to fish with the Russian. Years ago he'd retired from "routine" perch fishing and was hesitant to venture out on the ice unless there was the chance of something different. With that in mind, I chose a location on Lake Simcoe in Barrie called Minet Point, where the year before Tackle Shop and I schooled a few hundred herring (cisco). This year is the first in over a decade where they are legal to keep with a limit of two per person.

   We walked a couple hundred yards onto Kempenfelt Bay and quickly augered our holes through 28 inches of solid clear ice, over 60 fow. The Lowrance immediately showed activity near the bottom and it was starting to look like we'd both finally shake off the stink of skunk with regards to icing a whitefish or lake trout. Confidence was high, I'd done the research, bought the hardware, chose a proven location...and nobody told the fish!
Looking east from Minet Point
   I spent the next hour working a variety of swim baits and lipless crankbaits while the Russian used jiggin raps, castmasters and bad boyz jigs. We were able to coax a few fish from the bottom but had no bites, and the herring seemed to have disappeared completely, so we relocated out to 75 fow. This second location proved to be totally devoid of life and after 45 minutes of fruitless jigging we moved again, this time shallower,  40 feet. Along the way we talked to a few other unlucky souls enjoying the weather and not much more.

  Oh well...that's fishing. Three and a half hours on Kempenfelt without a single bite...I've got other tricks up my sleeve. Two minutes away is Barrie's only bait and tackle shop THE BAIT BUCKET
where we bought a scoop of shiners and then drove another five minutes to Little Lake. This trip could be salvaged with a few iced pike and maybe a couple crappie.

  The walk out wasn't as easy as Simcoe as there was more snow for these old legs to plod through, so we decided to set up a little to the right and only half the distance out from the rest the anglers, a couple hundred yards from the car. This put us over 10 fow with sparse weeds on the bottom. The Russian and I each set a tip up baited with a live minnow fifty feet away while at the central location we jigged micro plastics for panfish.

  After an hour I'd managed a 4" perch, the Russian was still waiting on his first bite and the tip ups were inactive. I gave him my rod and the Lowrance to play with while I checked on our closest neighbor and in less than 2 minutes he was calling me back. I returned in time to witness the 4lb braid part. Two bodies of water, six hours fishing, a dozen holes augered through 28" to 32" of ice, one lost pike...one hors d'oeuvre sized perch landed. And the smell of skunk persists.
Gilford, Cooks Bay
   The next day Tackle Shop and I returned to the perch grounds in Cooks Bay, hoping the sudden mild weather (10 C) would put the jumbos into more predictable areas. At this time last year we'd had good fishing near a point we drove to on the lake, but conditions this year dictated we use an on ice taxi to drop us off at the desired location.

   TS and I punched a half dozen holes before catching the first fish of the day. My fourth hole produced a couple dozen 7 inchers so I continued to search while TS's first, a plump 10" came from an open hole beside an empty hut. We concentrated our efforts for the next hour or two around that hut and managed to ice another five fish but the bite was sporadic and we never did get into any numbers or size.  Sitting on a bucket that long was putting me to sleep so I decided to revisit the previous holes. The only problem was that the mild temps had erased my tracks over half a square mile and I only managed to find a half dozen in barren water. 

   Our ride back to shore arrived at 4pm, and as we unloaded at the ramp we were "ambushed" by Jack from THE BLUE ICE REPORT , hoping to get us to do a web interview. Now...if we'd had a bucket of jumbos... no probs, but we came off the ice after 8hrs with six fish and only two were over 10". Ultimately our shame still ends up on the internet, but it's there on my terms. HA HA HA HELP!
I'll give you that interview next time Jack.

   March 15 is a magic  date on Lake Simcoe. All semi permanent huts have to come off the ice and it's the last open day for lake trout, whitefish and herring. From now to break up it's perch and crappie if you can nail them down.

   Sometimes the only thing you can count on when fishing is that water is wet...or hard and slippery, and sometimes you are the butt of fish jokes.