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Ice fishing is the by-product of our long Canadian Winters. When November comes around, the cold North winds start to blow, the heavy rain cools the water down, the fish start getting lethargic, and most spot fisherman start going though withdrawal symptoms. Although some lucky / wealthy fisherman can afford to go south for the winter, most of us a reduced to eyeing the goldfish in the aquarium, when the thoughts of minnow hooks start to let you know that you're really about to lose it. Ice fishing is quite boring, in comparison to real fishing, but it can actually help anglers survive the 4 months that most of our waters are covered by 3 - 4 feet of ice. I always ice fish at outfitters, as they provide shelter, bait, hole drilling and access to thick/safe ice for extremely low rates (specially on weekdays). Some even stock small lakes with decent sized trout (10-12 inches), which are a blast for the kids, and make for great shore/ice lunch.
Fishing tips: Use ice fishing rods, with small reels, or simply replace them with you regular reels if you are targeting bigger game fish, such as Northern Pike or walleye. Outfitters will provide minnows, worms, leeches, or other bait, as well as the specialized "tip up" / "brimbales" used, which consist of 2 sticks with a pivot nail, heavy braided line and no reel. Secure your rods next to each hole, send the bait down 3-6 inches from the bottom and wait for something to bite. Tip ups will pull downwards, for rods, use bells to let you know when something is nibbling. Additionally, jigging live bait with a small ice fishing rod will also provide results, and might make your day less boring. I usually bring along a small BBQ, water to heat for tea/coffee and plenty of alcohol to stay in the mood, as well as waterproof boots, ice cleats, a good snow suit and other winter wear to keep warm. Set up some lawn chairs if the weather is no too harsh, fire up the BBQ / Hibachi and fillet your catch for fresh shore/ice lunch. Between catches snowball fights with the kids are usually the best way to keep them from getting bored, as my wife wouldn't be to happy if they came home drunk!