The Lure of Ice Fishing
Shunpiking Magazine Feb-March 1996

OLD MAN WINTER. WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT Him? His clenched influence compresses day-light hours, afflicts us with the so-called wintertime blahs, steals precious heat from households and rots our cars but, on the upside, does offer a fruitful opportunity to get close to your significant other.

By the time you've read this, you may have missed the colourful Annual Smelt Tournament on the LaHave River, near Bridgewater. But if your budget can't stand another mouth to feed, get out of the house and try ice fishing. It's not as widespread as in Central Canada, nor as illustrious as "you know what," but ardent ice angler's_ concede it may be just as satisfying.

People come back to the ice, year after year, because it's inexpensive, provides the opportunity to enjoy fresh, crisp air and boasts the option of solitude or social interaction. Most likely, any ice fisher, regardless of age, will admit the affair started during their childhood years, and they are still smitten to this day. Despite its reputation in some circles as a boozy debauch, ice fishing is a fine and thrifty way to spend a family weekend.

"Ice fishing is one of the cheapest sports I can think of," says Metro fisherman, Sam MacLean. "You don't need all the bells and whistles. You can go anywhere on hard water; you don't need to buy a boat and all that fancy gear, you can just walk out where you please." MacLean often takes a snow shovel along to clear off a skating rink for his children. When they grow bored with fishing, they can skate.

There's also fishing near Pubnico, in the Annapolis Valley towards Clare/Yarmouth, the Bras d'Or Lakes and the Mira River in Cape Breton, among other locations.

Pickerel in Clare/Yarmouth Area
The Announcement that the province of Nova Scotia has declared war on the lowely chain pickerel sent a tiny chill through fishermen. It opens up fresh water fishing in the winter. The new season runs through to Feb 29.

Pickerel is the smallest member of the pike family, growing top weight of 9 lbs. And 30 inches in length. A predator that enjoys sallow weed beds used to ambush it's food, it feeds on almost anything - including fish, frogs, newts, small rodents and like all pike, the pickerel is a cannibal. It has spread throughout southwestern Nova Scotia from Weymouth through Yarmouth in most lakes. It's a game fish, but not high on anyone's catch list. They're bony and hard to clean but good eating; a long fillet from gill to tail on each side skinned and dipped in corn meal and deep fried in very hot oil is delicious. Head for the three open lakes in the Clare/Yarmouth area; Eel, Seth and Bonaventure are your targets during this time. For up to date instructions and help with this "new" species, try and get to see Gilbert Shupe at the Saulnierville Station; Gilbert has been chasing chain Pickerel for as long as we've known him with various levels of success.

Cape Breton
In Capw Breton two new winter sportfishing areas have been opened and rainbow trout fishing in the Bars d'Or Lakes has been reopened. The season runs to March 31. The daily bag limit is two fish.

Anglers will also be able to fish Bras d'Or Lakes, Great Bras d'Or Lake, St. Patrick's Channel, and Sydney River (between the dam and a line drawn between Point Edward and Liscomb Point). Trout anglers should know that two areas are closed; Inside the East Bay sand bar and above the Baddeck River highway bridge of Hwy. 105. You need a valid fishing license from 1995. And check the ice.

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