By CVC’s Kimberley Holt-Behrend

You might not be warm to the idea, but you’ll be freezin’ for a reason when you discover ice fishing at Island Lake Conservation Area.

What is ice fishing?

During winter conditions, holes are drilled into ice on lakes and rivers and bait is cast in the hope of catching fish. Ice fishing started as a survival technique and has come a long way since. It is enjoyed worldwide (the cold parts anyways) as a recreational sporting activity.  

Ice fishing requires special equipment in addition to the standard rod, bait and lures. A spud bar is a hand tool used to check ice thickness. An auger is a screw-like device that makes holes in the ice. A skimmer scoops slush out of holes and a gaff hooks the fish. Ice fishing huts protect anglers from the elements.

This angler uses a hand powered auger to make an ice fishing hole. Augers can also be gas or electric powered.
This angler uses a hand powered auger to make an ice fishing hole. Augers can also be gas or electric powered.
Left: This tool is an ice chisel. Right: A spud bar has inches marked along it to help anglers identify ice thickness.
Left: This tool is an ice chisel. Right: A spud bar has inches marked along it to help anglers identify ice thickness.

When is ice fishing safe?

Knowing when ice is safe to walk on is the first step to an enjoyable fishing experience. It is safest when ice is at least four inches (about 10 cm) thick. Those who enjoy snowmobiling to their ice fishing location must wait until the ice is at least 6 inches (15.25 cm) thick. Larger vehicles are safest on at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) of ice.

icethickness
This infographic shows when ice is safest for different weights.

Like any sport, dressing appropriately for weather conditions will help keep you comfortable. Wearing layers and avoiding exposed skin will reduce the chance of frostbite and sunburns. Believe it or not, you’re just as likely to get a sunburn in winter as you are in summer.

There are legal limits and restrictions on the fish you can catch and keep in Ontario. Avoid freezing up when asked about your fishing licence by reading Ontario’s rules and regulations before heading out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Where can I ice fish?

You can ice fish in our very own Credit River watershed! Ice fishing is the most popular sport at Island Lake Conservation Area when temperatures drop below freezing. Island Lake is not artificially stocked with fish. Native fish species reproduce naturally, which keeps the fishery well stocked. Bass, northern pike, black crappie and yellow perch are commonly caught. We offer fish bait and hole auguring services, as well as fishing rod and ice hut rentals at Island Lake Conservation Area.

On windy days, anglers at Island Lake rent huts to protects themselves.
On windy days, anglers at Island Lake rent huts to protects themselves.

This year is Island Lake Conservation Area’s 25th Annual Ice Fishing Derby. It runs every day throughout the month of February. This year, over $3,000 worth of prizes can be won. It’s an opportunity to test your skills and have a fin-tastic time.

Check out our Island Lake ice fishing video and webpage to learn more.

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