HAPPY FISHING ON HARD WATER
With the increased popularity of angling this past year, there are also many newcomers to the ice fishing scene. The Bay of Quinte region is home to fantastic ice fishing opportunities. Check out this list with a few tips on making the most of your ice fishing experience.
1 – SAFETY FIRST
Safety should always be top of mind when venturing out on the ice, no matter your experience level. Ice thickness varies not only from one body of water to the next but also throughout an individual waterbody. Ice formation and thickness are impacted by snow cover, the rise and fall of temperatures and current, which is present on various water bodies throughout the Bay of Quinte region. As such, it’s crucial to frequently check ice thickness as you venture out. The Ontario Government has a dedicated ice fishing webpage which includes recommended safety measures for ice anglers: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ice-fishing
2 – STAY WARM
Ice fishing doesn’t have to leave you shivering. Dressing in layers is best as well as avoiding cotton since it traps moisture. Moving around and sweating will heat you up at first but once you’re sitting still, any moisture next to your skin will cool down and lower your body temperature. Base layers made of merino wool or polypropylene help keep you warm by wicking away any perspiration.
As for outer layers, there are plenty of great options nowadays for survival (flotation) suits that will help keep you warm and cozy while also providing peace of mind. Don’t forget warm socks along with insulated, waterproof boots and gloves. When there’s no snow cover and the ice is slick, cleats are a great add-on to your boots. They provide extra traction when you’re walking about or drilling holes.
3 – GET EQUIPPED
Check in with the experts at your local tackle shop for recommendations on equipment. They will be happy to help set you up for success and they have an ear to the ground for what’s been working for other anglers locally.
Be sure to refer to the Ontario Fishing Regulations prior to heading out so you know which species are in season. This will help you narrow down what type of equipment to bring on your outing.
4 – HANDLE WITH CARE
If you’re not planning to keep your catch for the table, minimize the amount of time you have fish out of the water to ensure a successful release. Have pliers at the ready so you can quickly remove hooks. Freezing temperatures and cool winds can cause fish fins, eyes, and even gills to freeze. It’s especially important on the colder days to be speedy with returning fish to the water.
5 – RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
Spending time researching the targeted species will take a lot of guesswork out of your time on the ice. It’s true that there’s never any guarantee in fishing, which makes it challenging and fun. But you can really set yourself up for a better shot at success if you head out on the ice with a good understanding of the fish you’re pursuing. Get to know the winter habits; types of forage they feed on, types of areas they can be found in, and what types of presentations are popular.
Best of luck, and be safe!