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Braving the Lake Simcoe wind

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Braving the Lake Simcoe wind

Bob McGary braved the cold of southern Ontario’s Lake Simcoe for a fine catch of perch. • Credit: Bob McGary

The author braved a wind chill to catch lots of perch



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It's late January and as I stand on the shoreline, I ask myself, "Do I really want to do this?" As I look across the barren expanse of Lake Simcoe, the wind and cold make me want to seek shelter in the truck. The air temperature is -20° C and with wind chill it feels more like -30° C.

But my friend Bob Arbeau and I know there are fish to be caught. A few minutes earlier we'd visited the restaurant and ice hut operator in Port Bolster to buy minnows. "The guys have been doing not too bad recently, 20 to 40 good perch each for a few hours," said the owner of Casey's Ice Huts. This testament to possible success warms our inner thermostats.

The recent cold snap means there is 10 inches of solid ice, more than enough for our ATV. Following a marked stick trail and using GPS coordinates from last season, we make it right to our spot amongst Casey's Ice Huts.

Setting up quickly, we cut holes and lower our offerings. I didn't think it would take too long to see if the perch were there and I was right; the small shiner minnow doesn't even make it to the bottom. The 9 inch perch puts a good bend into my 24 inch ultra light and shortly after my partner is fighting one of his own. After a combined catch of 8 fish in ten minutes, the action tapers off. Perch tend to move in roving schools and we know we won't have to wait too long for the next wave.

Lake Simcoe perch
(Photo credit: Bob McGary)

Lake Simcoe is one of the best known lakes in Ontario. This is partly due to its proximity to Toronto, about a one hour drive, and because of the wide variety of species that can be caught. On any given day winter anglers can catch perch, northern pike, herring, whitefish and lake trout. Each winter there are more than 1000 ice huts on Simcoe, including those of the approximately 20 ice hut operators providing professional services for a variety of species.

After a few hours we have more than enough for a few tasty meals and we load up our catch of about 50 perch. Before leaving the ice I phone Kevin Phillips, a fishing guide who is angling the other side of the lake near Barrie. "Four inches of ice and I'm into lake trout number 6," he states. I know where I'm going tomorrow.

Port Bolster Inn and Casey's Ice Huts
PH: 705-437-1560
caseysfishhuts@yahoo.ca 

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