Updated: Jun 28
The sounds of preparation start long before the snow flies in Oro. Although the ice fishing season officially starts on January first, for those of us who are affected by it, the excitement and anticipation begins when the leaves are still rustling in the trees and the crisp fall air has yet to turn to the howling winter winds of January.
The sounds of a thrumming snowmobile engine pierces the fall air as our machines are checked over, oiled and given the thumbs up for the coming season. This is not for the trail riding enthusiast but for those serious about the business of chasing down the elusive winter fish of Lake Simcoe. Daily treks to the lake become a habit as the thickening ice teases them from shore. The fishing lines are tested and ice huts are dragged out. The bright orange survival suits are brought out of storage to once again grace the mantle of our fireplace. The balaclavas, winter boots, heavy gloves and goggles come out of hiding to announce the coming season to all who enter the door of our home.
This annual ritual is not for the faint of heart, thin skinned or tender footed. The sun worshippers like myself are still nestled in our warm little beds dreaming of warm summer barbecues when the intrepid fishermen sneak out of the house in the early dawn hours to brace the icy winds and cold temperatures in search of their prey. Only the truly addicted can appreciate their fervour, as they head out onto the frozen lake, which resembles the arctic tundra, ice augers strapped to their machines, to find the ‘perfect spot’ to drill their holes.
They hunker down to the business of fishing as they tell jokes and stories, unwind, tease each other, and enjoy the great outdoor fishing experience. The diehards brave the elements wearing only the mighty orange suit, for only the fiercest of weather would they retreat into the warmth of the ice hut.
I am told emphatically they do not ‘chat’, they do not ‘have fun with their friends’ or exaggerate the size of the ‘one that got away’. What little do I know of the perils of the Great Ice Fishing Experience from the comforts of the warm home-fire hearth?
I know there are fish in the lake and sometimes they get caught. However, I still prepare a hot roast beef dinner just in case there is no catch today. The biting whims of the Lake Simcoe fish are fickle and never reflect the ardent attempts of their predators. It’s not that I doubt they will bring home the ‘big one’. I just like to prepare a backup meal - just in case today the ‘big one got away’.
Originally posted in the North Simcoe Community News - December 2004 - re-written February 2022