"It's not just the destination, but also the trip that makes the day."
It's not just getting to the lake or river to ice fish, it's the spectacular scenery along the way that can also be enjoyed and captured on camera.
During his years of ice fishing, Ron Zeppa is one of those who appreciates the winter wonderland along the trails, whether it's heavily snow-laden fir trees or a rock face layered in giant icicles.
Winter provides it all.
Ron has been an avid ice fisherman for a number of years.
Being a faithful boater in our area, ice fishing affords him the opportunity to visit some remote places that have limited access in the no snow months.
Sitting on his 1991 ski-doo, he skims across the fluffy snow to his final destination whether it's near or far.
He may be breaking a new trail or following a well-used one that will bring him to that perfect spot.
He is definitely in his element.
He may go for a few hours or for a few days staying comfy, cozy in his portable ice hut complete with the amenity of a small heater.
He may go alone or be accompanied by friends or family.
Of course, he's dressed appropriately in layers of clothing with a t-shirt, sweater, long johns, track pants, skidoo suit, gloves, wool socks, boots, balaclava and helmet.
If you're too warm you can remove some clothing but if you're wearing all that you have on and you're still cold, that can become a problem or even lead to frostbite or hypothermia.
Bring plenty of provisions like energy snacks, lots of food, a change of clothes, cell phone and plenty of water whether you're going out for a couple hours or a couple days.
He even packs a portable BBQ for a hot meal.
The smell of sausage cooking on the ice will boost your appetite as well as others downwind.
Remember Murphy's Law, anything can and will happen.
It may be breaking through the ice at a soft spot, getting stuck on a trail or perhaps breaking down.
A few extra vital parts, a shovel, an emergency medical kit, an axe, a tool kit and of course an ice auger are essential items to bring with you.
Always let family members know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Then if you are not back at the appropriate time, measures can be taken to check on you.
The Search and Rescue can be notified if it's expected that you may be in trouble.
Better to be safe than sorry.
Use common sense when you are outdoors during the winter.
Be prepared for anything to go wrong and ice fishing will be a fun and tasty experience.
"It's just great to be outdoors in the fresh air. It's always a bonus when the fish are biting." states Ron.
Different lakes offer different species.
"I try to go to areas that have a few lakes in the vicinity so my options are open, lake trout in one and walleye in the next," says Ron.
Just keep in mind to check the regulations for the lakes as limits can be different from other areas.
Any fresh caught fish are good but in his opinion smoked fish is the best.
Ron has a smoker and often uses it on the fish he brings home.
Starting the day before he will cure it for 24 hours, then uses maple or apple wood chips to add the smoke flavour. It doesn't get any better than that.
Ron truly believes, "It's not just the destination but also the trip that makes the day."
The Algoma Region has many, many lakes and there are so many that I visit, but here are a few:
Starting north off of Hwy. 556, I visit Devil's Lake and Garden Lake. Both contain lake trout with a few speckled trout in Garden Lake. One of my favourites is the group of lakes I go to when I travel to Northland Lake, also on Hwy.556.
You can drive to Northland Lake and take your snow machine to several lakes in the area. This is an area that holds a variety of species. Crooked Lake for lake trout. Brilliant and Kaufman Lakes for speckled trout. Reserve Lake for walleye. All of these lakes are trail accessible and relatively close to one another.
Heading east on Hwy. 17E. I travel to an area behind Echo Bay. Taking Hwy. 638 there are many easily accessible lakes to fish. Garden Lake and Rock Lake offer perch, pike and walleye and you can drive to and walk out to drop a few lines. I go to Lonely Lake for lake trout and Tower Lake for splake.
A little farther on Hwy. 638 and take Bass Lake Rd. Starting from Bass Lake you can fish Bass Lake for perch, pike and walleye or go over the hill to McMahon Lake for lake trout. Often I will fish McMahon Lake in the morning and relocate to Bass Lake for the evening.
Other lakes in the area are Patten Lake for lake trout and Heart Lake for splake.
A little farther down Hwy 17E I frequent Lake Matinenda. Lake Matinenda is located behind Blind River. Taking Hwy. 557 you will pass several lakes but the hwy. stops at Lake Matinenda. Lake Matinenda is known for the lake trout fishery.
If you want to venture off of Matinenda you can go to other lakes to chase lake trout also. To mention a few you have Big Moon Lake, Bay Lake, Cream , Coffee and Emerald Lakes. All well known for their lake trout. I am very fortunate as I can leave my house by snow machine and tow my portable ice hut to Upper St. Mary's River. This is great to get out for a little white fish action.
As I have mentioned, these are just a few of the lakes in our area. Living here in Sault Ste. Marie, we are truly blessed by the many fishing opportunities we have and we get to enjoy the beautiful country that Algoma region has to offer. Hard water fishing is the best.