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Friday, March 18, 2005

Ice fishing season ends Tuesday March 15

Ice fishing season ends Tuesday
Fish, with exception of pan-fry perch, weren't biting this year

Ice conditions were great but the fishing was slow this year, hut operators reported last week as the season draws to a close.

All fish huts have to be off the ice Tuesday in conjunction with the final day of lake trout and whitefish angling.

The hard water action is expected to continue with perch which, in contrast to the big fish, have been biting in large numbers in some locations.

Last week's Canadian Ice Fishing Championship saw more than 4,000 of the panfish hauled out offshore of Virginia Beach.

All were live released.

American anglers have been coming in increased numbers in recent years to target the tasty panfish: Lake Simcoe is regarded as one of the best perch fisheries in North America.

The lake also hosts one of the largest ice fishing derbies on the continent, drawing up to 4,000 anglers for the one-day event each year in Keswick and hosted by Todd Million of the nationally syndicated show Full Contact Fishing.

Greg Haines of Bonnie Boats said business was off slightly this year.

"The fishing was a little slow. We were marking plenty of fish so we know they're there, but they weren't biting for some reason."

Mr. Haines, who has huts in deep water off Jackson's Point, said the situation was the same all around Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.

"I've heard even up at (Lake) Nipissing it was their worst season in years," he said.

"I don't know why."

The Ministry of Natural Resources warned ice anglers they are responsible for removing their huts.

The March 15 deadline is set to prevent huts from freezing into the ice, making them difficult to remove.

Owners who abandon their huts or leave them on public property could be fined or liable for removal costs.

Anglers and other recreational users are reminded to clean up and remove garbage.

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