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Countdown to Lake Trout

Saskatchewan’s Jason Matity visited Northern Ontario with one goal in mind: land a trophy lake trout. It looks like he met his objective! • Credit: Gord Pyzer

It is official -- the countdown is underway.

No, I am not talking about the number of shopping days left until Christmas, but rather the lead-up to January 1st. And it has nothing to do with partying, either, at least, not the kind you're likely considering.

Rather, New Year's Day is special because it's the opening of the lake trout ice fishing season across Northern Ontario and I have to confess, no matter how many new trout seasons I've welcomed in over the years, I still get so excited and wound up so tightly the night before, that I toss and turn and can't sleep.

However, buddy Doug Stange, the popular host of the In-Fisherman Television Show has piqued my interest and started my pre-planning earlier than usual. Doug is scheduled to arrive on New Year's Eve, camera crew in tow, and we're going to snowmachine into the wilderness, to our favourite backcountry trout lake.

Doug Stange Lights, action, camera – the smile on In-Fisherman television Doug Stange’s face tells you everything you need to know about ice fishing in Northern Ontario, as he lands this beautiful trout for Gord Pyzer. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Can you imagine a more appropriate way to welcome the New Year?

Indeed, the trip involves snow machining several miles down one frozen body of water, traversing across a gorgeous portage through a dense, snow-covered forest of spruce and pine, before finally breaking out onto the wide expanse of the trout water.

The ride is so exhilarating it is half the fun.

Then, there are all of the other things that add to the enjoyment of the experience, like the huge bull moose we spotted a few years ago trailing a cow across the frozen lake, and the lonesome timber wolf -- the epitome of the Northern Ontario wilderness -- we saw another time. And I better not forget to mention Doug's special, but oh, so scrumptious shore lunch recipe.

While I get a hot crackling fire going along shore, Doug fillets a small, three or four-pound lake trout, cutting it into bite-size pieces. The flesh of the trout from this lake, by the way, is as red as prime beef and tastier still.

lake trout Some of Ontario’s lake trout lakes are famous for producing big fish, like this trophy Ryan Haines caught, while other lakes are more noted for producing fast and furious action. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

When the embers are glowing perfectly, we lay the frying pan over top, crumbling in 1/2-pound of Mexican Chorizo sausage, stirring it until it is nicely browned. Then, we add a can of diced tomatoes and continue stirring until the liquid in the pan has reduced by about 50%. Finally, we add in the bite-size pieces of lake trout, letting them simmer for about ten minutes, before ladling the hot fish stew into our cups while breaking off huge chunks of fresh crusty bread to sop up the elixir.

Trust me, Colonel Sanders has nothing over Doug's Chorizo lake trout recipe.

You may be surprised, too, that while our backcountry trout lake offers the chance to catch a trophy -- our biggest trout over the many years we've ice-fished it was just under 20-pounds -- most of the fish are half that size.

gord pyzer lake trout Author Gord Pyzer admires a gorgeous lake trout, before carefully releasing it. Gord landed this beauty on New Year’s Day two years ago, while fishing in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

But, what the trout lack in stature they make up for in numbers and bad attitude. Indeed, I remember taking friends Al Lindner and Gary MacEnelly into the same lake several years ago and we caught and released 36 lake trout in one easy day of fishing, with two 16-pounders vying for big fish honours.

Television fishing host, Tom Gruenwald Television fishing host, Tom Gruenwald ice fished with Gord Pyzer in Northern Ontario and saw his dream come true. As Gruenwald said, “Nothing’s better than ice fishing -- nothing! (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Another time, I caught nine gorgeous lake trout out of the same hole in less than an hour. It was ridiculously easy, but so much fun. And with a disproportionate number of the world's lake trout lakes crammed into Northern Ontario, taking advantage of the opportunity to plan your own New Year's trout adventure has never been easier.

Indeed, it seems every year there are more and more lodges and resorts in Northern Ontario, remaining open during the winter months, catering to the ice angler and winter adventurer. And the amenities are often out of this world, including gourmet dining, California-style hot tubs, saunas, heated fish huts, cross-country ski trails, skating rinks, snowshoe trails -- even dog sledding opportunities.

Talk about roughing it in velvet.

And with tens of thousands of miles of expertly groomed snow machine trails -- crossing hundreds of exquisite lake trout lakes --, there is virtually nowhere in Northern Ontario, the adventuresome ice angler can't go these days.

Doug Stange and Ryan Haines land lake trout In-Fisherman Television’s Doug Stange and Ryan Haines landed this beautiful Northern Ontario lake trout the first week of January a couple of years ago - what a way to start the New Year! (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

The best way to start planning your New Year's Day lake trout adventure is by clicking right here. The link will take you to the Destination Ontario website page for Fishing where you can refine your search for lakes to fish, tourism businesses, communities and travel associations.

It really is as easy as that.

And in no time at all, you'll find yourself ice fishing on a splendid Northern Ontario lake trout lake, understanding why I find it so hard to sleep on December 31st every year.

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