Though winter officially starts on Dec 21st, Quebec fishing regulations in much of the open part of the the province start on Dec 20th. Depending on the zone, the rules allow the use of multiple lines (usually 5 or 10, depending on the region) as opposed to only 1 line per person in the summer. The use of dead / frozen bait is permitted as well, as long as the legal species of baitfish are used.
The use of multiple lines with dead bait lends itself to fishing for Northern pike, probably more so than other species. I'll typically run as many legal lines as allowed if I'm in an area that has a good pike population, leaving one rod to jig with for other species.
My first winter outing technically was the last day of fall (Dec 20), but due to winter rules being in effect, I'd rather avoid the confusion for readers, and post it to my winter bog post. As I have a few trips planned between now and the end of 2018, I'll post the rest of the 2018 updates here.
Dec 20th update:
First day of winter regulations, I headed East hoping to find some safe ice. Got to my spot, and found a solid 3.5 to 4 inches for a good 1/2 KM stretch of water or so. Areas that were unsafe were clearly visible, as their was negligible snow cover on the surface.
The spot is well known to locals, and with easy access, it's gets quite a bit of fishing pressure. There were already 6 others fishing there when I arrived, and a good 50+ holes drilled.
I set up away from the pack, hoping to find some good schools of jumbo perch, and maybe a decent pike for the table, as my kids love eating pike from clean waters.
I baited two of the tip ups with frozen capelin, and other two with larger frozen mackerel. One flag was tripped, capelin stolen, and nothing else on the tip ups at that spot for about 2.5 hours. Managed to find a couple schools of tiny perch, only one decent keeper for the table.
As the fishing was terribly slow for everyone, the crowd left by noon, and I had the entire spot to myself. I moved to where they were fishing, set up my tip ups for pike, and began jigging for perch. took about 15 minutes for the capelin line to get hit, but again, the bait was stolen.
A few minutes later, a suspended fish started darting around my lure, figured it may be a lake trout. When I finally hooked up, I was surprised that it was a Jumbo perch, as they typically rush up from bottom. That's where the Humminbird flasher comes in very handy...
About 1/2 hour later, the tip up baited with mackerel next to the capelin line got hit, and flag tipped up. Fish was still running at high speed when I got to the line, and since I had a quick strike rig, I immediately set the hook. Feeling the big head shakes, I knew it was a decent sized pike. Landed it shortly after, and had one of the locals that just showed up take a pic for me.
Followed up with an autoshoot pic shortly after.
Not much else going on for the rest of the day despite jigging about 20 other holes, I ended up leaving a couple hours later.
Dec 24th update:
Kids of school for a couple weeks, I decided to head back to the new spot I had tried the previous week with them. This time, I brought along my tip ups, hoping to find some pike. I also brought along jigging rods and the flasher, ti tech them how to jig for panfish.
After setting up 11 tip ups baited with frozen mackerel and capelins, I drilled a hole a bit deeper to show Eli how to jig with a flasher. First drop, I hooked a perch for him, and handed him a the rod to go drill another hole for Zev. Within a couple minutes, I saw his rod doubled over, drag peeling off the reel. I coached him through the fight, and he landed his first ever bass on ice, a good 2 lbs fish.
No such luck for Zev, but after giving him the flasher, he still managed to land his first perch on ice.
Around noon, we had 3 flag go off right next to each other, fish managed to steal the capelin first teo times, then left some teethmarks on the third. Guessing is must have been quite small, as the bait was small and I gave it enough time to run with it. No more pike action all day.
Kids started getting bored with the very slow bite, and head out for sled rides on the ice after lunch. Just as well, gave me some time to fish. Did managed to hook up with a couple good largemouth bass.
Kids wouldn't let me stay for the evening bite, we were off the ice by mid afternoon. They only had some much patience, it was their first time out on open ice without the comfort of a heated cabin.
Hope to get some more ice fishing done later this week.
Dec 26th update:
Kids chickened out on me do to cold weather. Truth be told, I can't blame them. It takes very warm clothing to ice fish out in windchills colder than -15, and keeping warm still requires movement like drilling holes, setting lines, etc.
As I was alone, I chose to explore and area where I had some success catching pike from my float tube in the summer. Setup 8 polar tip ups, 4 bait with mackerel on quick strike rigs, and 4 baited with capelin. No bites all day.
Luckily, there are some decent perch to fish for in the area. It did take a lot of searching, but I finally managed to find 1 good hole out of about 20 holes I drilled for panfish throughout the day.
They were aggressive enough early on, hitting a W3 jigging rap tipped with a meal worm. Later on, I downsized to a tiny Acme Kastmaster spoon tipped with a mealworm as well, landed some more perch and small sunfish.
Ended up keeping 11 of 20 perch for the table, kids will be happy at lunch tomorrow.
Dec 31st update:
Last day of 2018, I took Levi, Eli and Zev out to the Eastern Townships. Plan was to target perch at a spot where I found some big ones last winter, and set up some tip ups with frozen bait in case any pike were feeding in the area.
Ice was a good 7 inches clear an solid, to the point where I was still able to get a depth reading with the flasher without having to drill through the ice. Got set up fast and easy, and we were fishing in no time.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to locate and decent schools of perch, despite drilling a couple dozen holes. Eli and Zev both landed small lake trout, caught while jigging tiny perch lures, but other than that, the outing wasn't too productive. No pike in the area either.
Levi and Eli took turn giving Zev sled rides on the ice, and had I known that there wasn't any snow on the lake, I'd have brought along ice skates for the kids, as we saw quite a few local out skating on the lake.
Snapped one last pic for 2018 one the way back to the car.
Thank you again to all my fans and blog followers, 2018 was great. Hoping for even better fishing in 2019!