Hard Water Haven
A fisherman’s bounty and desire for adventure doesn’t come easy and ice fishing to remote lakes in the Northern Ontario back country take skill, patience and determination.
Snow machines off loaded and running we heaved the hard water gear off the truck and onto the tow-sled. The bitter cold was not stopping us from enjoying this true northern outing. Like giddy school kids, we clambered onto the warmed-up sleds and headed into the great white yonder in search of the hidden lake that held the fish we wanted.
A good 40 minute or more ride into the adventure the first order was made, “I’ll get the rope and you attach it to the tree” said one buddy to me. I tied the rope firmly and heaved it over the steep and alarmingly high embankment. We unloaded gear off the sleds and into packs to hoist down the steep icy slope.
Eventually we all made it to our destination unscathed and still eager to catch these fish. Auger out and drilling holes, each of us took on roles to make campfire, shelter under trees that lined the small lake, and set up rods. It took a while for fish to bite. Our high hopes were a little lowered as we were sure this lake would produce quickly, but instead we waited patiently like any good fisherman would. The snow was falling and heavily! It was overwhelming how much snow was coming down, creating a blanket upon us.
Regardless, that magic moment happened as we started cooking up food and brewing coffee. In between, we were scrambling to our holes to get our much-anticipated catches!
Gloriously fat and healthy splake, plump and bright from feeding on fresh water shrimp! The fish kept biting and the scrambling continued as we tried to keep up. So much so that an ice rod (a pricey one) was taken into the watery depths and gone. We just couldn’t get to that far reaching hole fast enough!
A perfect day adventure in so many ways – a constantly unfurling panoply of beautiful pristine winter landscape that could be on a Christmas card. Great fishing, company and the hearth of a camp fire blazing to keep us toasty warm. We made fast friends with the local crafty grey jays as they eyed up our deer sausages and all the trimmings, cooking on the open fire.
The time flew by, with campfire stories told between us all, exchanging in our past fishing adventures and off coloured jokes. We had reached our limit of fish and it was soon time to head back up the rope to the sleds. Bitter sweet leaving that gem of a lake. We did though, have the photos and memories to last a lifetime and make us yearn to go back again one day. It’s a lot harder gathering up your energy at the end of the day than the beginning. Let’s just say hauling everything back up definitely put a re-enforced meaning to “all up hill”!!
As an avid fly angler, my choice is always to fish the warmer seasons. But it’s easy to love ice fishing when the fish are biting! The rewards are abundant if you are willing to explore and get out of your comfort zone.We are linked, not so much by who we are, but by where we dream to be. Fishing with friends who share the passion to fish no matter the temps, or weather conditions is priceless, and so is the destination.