Editor's Note: In his second article on this site, Jeff Gustafson, host of "Fishing with Gussy", gives some great tips on maximizing the "hot bite" for stocked species of trout in Ontario's Sunset Country. As a professional angler and experienced guide, Gussy uses his vast experience to give us some advice to help make our ice fishing efforts more successful. For more information about ice fishing trips in Ontario's Sunset Country, visit the website www.snowontario.ca/icefishing
When you think about fishing options, we have no shortage of opportunities across Ontario's Sunset Country Region. Though I spend much of my time chasing the more popular bass and walleye, I seldom pass up the opportunity for a hot bite, no matter which species it is. Most people don't think about stocked fish in Northwest Ontario because it is a remote region with good fishing across the board. We don't need to stock our fish! What folks may not be aware of is there are stocked trout opportunities to be found across the region. These non-native fish (at least in the western part of the region), brook trout, rainbow trout and splake grow relatively quickly and do not reproduce so they provide a great put and take fishing opportunity. And trust me, they are very good to eat!
Look to Dad for Advice
When I was younger, my Dad and I used to fish the stocked trout lakes quite often, focusing most of our time on brook trout and we used to catch a bunch of fish. Not only are brook trout the most beautiful fish you have ever seen, they are also fine eating and great fighters, they have all of the qualities that make them fun to catch. Though they can be caught year round, winter is prime time to catch them the best. One thing I figured out a long time ago is that these fish love to cruise in shallow water, especially under the ice. The shallowest holes are usually the best on most of the lakes that I've fished, think two to six feet of water. The real secret is to be quiet on the ice since you are fishing in such shallow water. No running around or stomping your feet. When you drill a hole, pull the auger out immediately after you get through the ice, instead of repeatedly pushing it down through the hole and then pulling it up to clear the slush out.
Use the Lines Available to You
The best approach when it comes to tackle is to make use of both of the lines you are permitted to use when you're ice fishing in Ontario. It is the same approach I take with other species throughout the season. I jig an aggressive lure on one rod and set up a second set line with a subtle jig and a live minnow in an effort to tempt fish that may not be as active. Some days the jigging is better, other days the still line is better.
Use These Tools to Plan the Trip
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has a new addition to their website called Fish ON-Line that offers anglers a huge amount of information that was previously tough to find. Searching Fish ON-Line on Google will give you access to the names of lakes across Ontario, a listing of the fish species in each lake, and all the stocking information for stocked lakes in the Province, amongst plenty of other great information. You can literally spend hours on this website. If you zoom in on the map on your favourite region of Northwest Ontario you can pull up all of the stocked lakes. These lakes provide great winter fishing and pretty good open water fishing particularly in the spring and fall. If you have an extra day to do something different on your next trip, research the lakes in the area you're staying and give stocked trout a try!
To find a place to stay, try one of these tourist operators that stay open during the winter.