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Drilling for Gold in Northern Ontario

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Drilling for Gold in Northern Ontario

Gord Pyzer and buddy Bob Izumi drilled dozens of holes searching for the most productive pike zone this day, and it looks like they found it. • Credit: Gord Pyzer

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As most anglers will tell you, you can never own too many fishing lures or too much tackle. It is a contradiction of terms.

Here is another clash of ideas.

If you're an ice angler fishing in the spring in Northern Ontario, one of the most glorious times to be outdoors, you can never drill too many holes. As good friend, Ryan Haines and I discovered the other afternoon on a walleye excursion in Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country.

Now, it is normal for us to augur at least a dozen or more holes at a potential spot before we even think about dropping down a lure and catching the first fish. While one of us drills, the other person cleans out the hole and checks the depth with the Humminbird sonar unit. The objective is to cover a variety of different water depths so that we can zero in on the zone the fish are using and gauge their mood and appetite.

Then, when we start to see a pattern emerging -- such as the bulk of fish being caught at a specific depth -- we'll close in and converge on the hot holes and ring the ever diminishing area with so many more perforations the surface of the ice often resembles a block of Swiss cheese.

It is like drawing an ever smaller bulls-eye on the ice and it is a key detail that far too many anglers overlook. They often reason, I suspect, that a walleye, trout, pike or perch will easily spot a lure dangling a few feet away and swim over to inspect it, so why drill holes on top off one another?

The objective of drilling plenty of holes is to cover a variety of water depths so that you can eventually zero in on the zone the fish are using and gauge their mood and appetite. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Trust me, many veteran ice anglers who just read that last statement, smiled and nodded their heads in silent agreement. Well, the reason is most days it is uncanny how 80- or 90-percent of the fish that are caught are hooked in only one, two or three specific holes.

Sometimes there seems to be no rhyme nor reason for why a hot hole is so good. I mean, one day you catch the majority of the fish from it, only to return the next day and not get a bite.

Usually, though, hot holes are productive because you've drilled over top of the "sweet spot" on a key structural feature -- like three or four isolated boulders, a patch of verdant green cabbage or a transition where hard bedrock merges with the soft basin -- that the fish are relating to.

This brings us back to the other afternoon.

After an hour or so of slow to moderate fishing action, Ryan and I were able to tighten the noose and zero in on the key two holes out of the more than two dozen that peppered the ice. And the results were astonishing.

In fact, you're not going to believe this, but after releasing a near four-pound smallmouth bass, Ryan spotted something on his sonar screen seemingly swoop under his hole and eat the bass. So, he dropped down his Rapala Jigging Rap, twitched it twice and almost had the rod ripped from his grip.

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

He fought the heavy throbbing fish, and managed to get its wide head turned to come up the hole and out popped the alligator-like snout of a gorgeous northern pike. But that is only two-thirds of the story.

Upon releasing the prodigious pike, Ryan dropped his Jigging Rap back down the hole, twitched it a couple of more times and, are you ready for this, immediately hooked something even bigger.

After a long tussle, and several line scorching runs, Ryan landed a gorgeous lake trout whose humongous head almost filled the hole.

Can you believe it -- three drops down the hot hole and three different trophy size fish? A smallmouth bass, northern pike, and lake trout.

And if you think this is a fish story, click on the following link and enjoy the video. By pure coincidence, I happened to be field testing one of the new Shimano CM1000 action cameras and recorded the entire sequence of events.

It only goes to prove that, while there are fish stories, in Northern Ontario, they're true.

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