Text by: Quartz Co. Editorial Team
Ice fishing is a fun and rewarding winter activity that can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family. Under the icy surface of Ontario lakes, fish continue to move around as usual in the winter months, and they are just as hungry for bait as in the summer. So if you’re a fishing enthusiast, don’t discard one of your favorite pastimes on account of the subzero temperatures, and consider these five locations that are among the best places to ice fish in Ontario.
One of the most popular ice fishing spots in the province, Lake Simcoe offers an abundance of ice huts, allowing for the ice fishing newcomer to get their feet wet and for the more experimented fishers to settle down comfortably for a few days. Surely, you can’t go wrong with the “Ice fishing capital of Canada”! Only an hour and a half drive from Toronto, it’s a convenient destination for those looking to try out ice fishing, with species like Pike, Perch, Lake Trout, and Walleye all active under the ice.
Hamilton Harbour is experiencing newfound popularity, with the Ministry of Natural Resources implementing stocking measures that have brought back the Walleye population. You’ll have to fend for yourself as there are no ice fishing services available. However, being one of the closest options to Toronto, it’s no wonder Hamilton Harbour is quickly gaining popularity, so get there fast to beat the crowds!
Windy Lake Provincial Park is a great place to try out ice fishing, with the park office offering a complete ice fishing package, which includes all of the necessary equipment including two rods/reels, tip-ups, a bait bucket/stool, fishing tackle, an ice auger and a sled that transforms into a portable ice fishing shelter (complete with two seats). Park staff will transport the gear to a predetermined ice fishing location and help you set up for the day. Lake Trout are in abundance but Lake Whitefish are also a popular (and tasty) winter delicacy. Take note that you must have all the required permits and licenses in order to fish.
Quetico Provincial Park is renowned for its great angling year-round, but some might argue that fishing there is actually at its best in winter. You’re likely to have the park’s rugged beauty all to yourself as you fish on one of the many lakes surrounded by snow-laden evergreens. Cabins are also available throughout the winter if you want to warm up. Keep in mind that Quetico has strict rules against live or dead organic bait as well as barbed hooks.
Lake of the Woods is one of the most spectacular locations in Ontario for ice fishing. Despite being known as the Walleye capital of the world, you can find many other fish species swimming in the lake including Lake Trout, Whitefish, Crappie, Perch, and Pike.
If you’d like to try out ice fishing but don’t want to commit to a full excursion just yet, the Ontario Family Fishing Events are a good opportunity to get more familiar with the pastime. These events are held on weekends across the province to allow Canadian residents to fish Ontario waters without the otherwise mandatory license.
No matter when and where you go ice fishing, make sure you dress warmly as it can involve long waiting periods in cold temperatures! A down-insulated winter coat designed for the Northern life, like the Canadian-made Quartz Co. coats, are a great pick to keep you warm and comfortable outdoors. Remember to check the Fish-ONLine mobile app for up-to-date information on your preferred fishing spot. Lastly, ensure you have a valid Ontario fishing license in your possession as it’s required in many locations for fishing, find all the details here.