Ice Fishing, Eh?

A Beginner's Guide to Getting Started Ice Fishing in Northeastern Ontario

If you've ever wondered what ice fishing is all about, this one's for you.



What are some stereotypes that come to mind about Canadians in winter? How about that lonely individual, sitting on on a small stool or bucket, huddling around a hole in the ice with a fishing rod? This individual braves blistering winds, freezing temperatures, and longs for that lonely bite—often enduring extreme conditions to do so.

Breaking the Stereotype

Shelters come in all shapes and sizes, like this one used on a day on Callander Bay, Lake Nipissing.

Some of us do know that warrior, but it’s not the only way for families, couples, or group of friends to spend a day (or two) out on the ice! For anyone who’s never tried it, but wondered what it was all about, we’re here to say that the image of that lonely warrior braving the elements is no longer the only way to take advantage of one of the north’s traditional winter “Things to Do.”   

Tip: If you’re new to fishing, or want to introduce a loved-one to the sport, you should look into Ontario Family Fishing Weekend – February 17 - 19, 2018. On this weekend, Canadian residents can fish license-free!

Ice huts can range from the simple to the luxurious. Photo: Goh Iromoto

From childhood, I have many memories of Saturdays spent on snowy lakes alongside my parents and their friends. We would set up holes in the ice, fishing lines with brightly coloured markers, and identify a location for a fire so we could cook a warm meal over it. If we were lucky, we’d have fish for dinner. If we weren’t lucky, we’d still had a day together on the ice, exploring the shoreline, laughing, and playing in the snow. Now, I never go out without my camera, and more often with a group of friends.  

Tipups are essential ice fishing tools that set the hook, and let the angler know that a fish is on the line. Photo: Goh Iromoto

Ice Huts & cable TV (For Real)

Whether you’re a novice angler or have experience, the operators listed below can cater to exactly the type of winter getaway you’re looking for. You can choose from the classic ice hut, all the way up to one of the “Cadillacs” of ice fishing digs—the heated ice bungalow that doubles as your accommodation and comes complete with television set, cable, and DVD player. Are we piquing your interest yet?

Ice-fishing "huts" may be more modern than you expect. Photo: Ashley Rae 

Note for snowmobilers: Many of these lakes and lodges are right on the edges or in close proximity to the 11 OFSC-Promoted Snow Tours that weave through Northeastern Ontario. Imagine sledding into what may as well be your own private back lack? For some of you, that might just be heaven. You can find the best lodging rates right here.

Below, you’ll find a list of operators located across Northeastern Ontario that offer winter accommodations and ice hut rentals, as well as information on ice fishing tournaments, special events, and a few pointers to help you up your ice fishing game.

Novice anglers may want to consider sticking to operators that offer bait, equipment, and hut rental packages for their first few times. The more experienced among you may be interested in venturing off the beaten path, exploring new back lakes, and packing in your own gear. Whatever your skill level, there’s an experience to match.

Where to Go & What to Bring

The operators listed below have are open through the winter and welcome guests that want to experience all that the season has to offer! That includes ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, wildlife viewing, and photography.

Tip: Many of the lodges below offer meal plans, bait, tackle, hole-drilling services, shuttle service, and hut rental packages—but always determine with the operator what you should bring with you and what they provide!
You may be able to arrange an over-ice shuttle directly to your hut. Photo: Goh Iromoto

Cochrane & Timmins

North Bay, Mattawa, & Lake Nipissing

Temagami, Marten River, & Elk Lake

If you’re looking for more winter lodge adventures and escapes, check out our full list of Winter Lodges, Cabin Rentals, & Resorts and the Winter To-Do Guide for Northeastern Ontario.

Ice Fishing Tournaments & Special Events

The Wiikwemkoong Annual Ice Fishing Derby. Photo: Wikwemikong Tourism

  • Friends & Family Ice Fishing Day in Greater Sudbury
    TBD February, 2018
     
  • Ontario Family Ice Fishing Weekend
    February 17-19, 2018
     
  • Mattagami First Nation Winter Pike Derby
    February 24, 2018
     
  • Kirkland Lake Winter Carnival Fish Derby
    February 15 – March 4, 2018
     
  • 21st Annual Chapleau Pike Ice Fishing Derby
    TBA
  • More Ice Fishing Experiences & Tips  

    Ice fishing is one of those things best learned through giving it a try! Photo: Goh Iromoto

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