Yesterday the temperature in Quebec’s Eastern Townships was hovering just above freezing. The sky was brilliant blue and the sun glinting off clean, fresh snow brought out dozens of people, walking and talking — and fishing through the ice.
We live next door to Manoir Hovey, an outstanding resort hotel and a member of the prestigious international group, Relais et Chateaux. I didn’t have my camera with me yesterday to photograph the fun, but luckily I have photos that I took at Manoir Hovey in 2008 that show a similar scene. Dozens came out that weekend to try their hand at ice fishing and to warm up in the yurt the hotel had erected for the occasion.
For those who didn’t want to warm up inside the yurt there was a fire burning on the frozen lake.
Not far from the festivities, a lone ice fisherman was using his long-handled augur to drill a hole through the ice. Beside him was a bucket for his catch — trout and perch are the most common, I believe — and for his fishing equipment and any food or drink he may have brought with him.
Regardless of the year, fishing in winter doesn’t change. After drilling through to open water, the fisherman drops a baited line and sits down to wait. Fish can feel the vibration of voices and movement on the ice so the fisherman sits quietly and hopes no one disturbs him. When the line jiggles, he knows he has caught something. Sometimes this happens quickly, sometimes it takes 30 minutes or more, and there is no way of knowing in advance.
Some fishermen rough it, some bring refreshments — a can or two of beer is standard.
Earlier this week, on a grey winter day, I saw the two people below fishing near the village of North Hatley where I live.
They seem to be dangerously close to open water day but they don’t seem worried. I’m pretty sure I would be — and even surer that I wouldn’t be out there fishing in the first place.
What about you? Have you ever gone ice fishing? Did you enjoy the experience and would you do it again?