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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Many predict it will be a great ice fishing season

Icemen cometh

A village of ice huts is massing along the shores of Cook's Bay as operators prepare for an early start to the fishing season.

While other parts of Lake Simcoe only froze last week, and many local waterways are still dangerous, the shallow bay is the first area ice fishers flock to each winter.

"There are excellent conditions for this time of year, better than last year. The ice is about five or six inches thick," said Vito Villani, of Love to Fish Simcoe, in Belle Ewart.

He's putting out 10 huts today and another six later this week.

"Where we are, the ice is good, but the farther north on Cook's Bay you go, there's only three inches or so. It all depends where you are," he said.

Joanne Maglietta, of Lake Simcoe Bait and Tackle, said anyone wanting to venture out on-t o Kempenfelt Bay should be patient.

"We 've had a few customers testing it out. One went to Minet's Point and said it was about two-and-

a-half inches thick. He said he was going to wait a bit longer yet," she said

"It will be a few more days or a week. We'll just have to wait a bit longer," she added.

Chad Paiero, of Lucky's Sons ice hut rentals in Lefroy, will be dragging out 16 huts today, as well as huts for customers and people in the area.

"We're looking forward to a good season. It's a little earlier this year," he said. "The ice is good out here and the last couple of weeks, people have been having good luck."

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Fishing expert Wil Wegman said he's not surprised.

"The perch fishing is going to be fantastic this year. There's thousands out there. The population is incredibly stable," he said.

"We're blessed with a fabulous perch fishery in Lake Simcoe and Cook's Bay is prime. The lake trout and whitefish populations appear to be stable, too," he added.

Maglietta is hopeful Mother Nature continues to help out with cooler weather.

"With temperatures falling to the low teens at night this week -- and up to minus four or five degrees during the day -- it's still good for making ice as long as we don't get too much snow," she said, adding that a layer of heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down freezing

Local ice-hut operators have accurate advice for ice conditions, Maglietta said.

Villani has local anglers in his bait and tackle shop -- which also has a bed and breakfast operation for 12 people -- as well as customers from the Milton and Hamilton area, and Michigan.

"Their perch are smaller," he said, of his American visitors. "They like ours. They're bigger."

Any anglers not relying on an ice-hut operator for a hut are reminded that registration is required to identify the owner of an ice hut in the event of a littering problem or if the ice hut is not removed from the ice as required.

To register an ice hut, anglers can contact their local Ministry of Natural Resources office over the phone. There is no charge. Once registered, an ice hut can be used anywhere in Ontario.

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