Tuesday, 21 March 2017

From Lake to Plate - The Boyz Go Ice Fishing!

From Lake to Plate - The Boyz Go Ice Fishing

It's magnificent when you get to cross something off the bucket list. This time last year, we were tapping sugar maple trees in Vermont. This year, CJ and Art invited us to go ice fishing - and we jumped at the chance.  

Putting on layers of clothing to ensure comfortable isolation from the cold wind-chill that can sometimes be biting, we set off and Art found a place to park their truck beside Marsh Lake on Dunlop Shores Road - just 15 minutes north of where we live. Our destination was Summers Lake, a 25 minute trek beyond Marsh Lake. The equipment was unpacked and placed on a sled ready for the trek across the lake, through a portage trail and on to Summers. 

Walking on Water!

We followed the snowmobile/4 wheeler tracks and avoided the spots where there was open water. Once they found a suitable spot on the lake, Art & CJ proceeded to unpack the kit and kaboodle and showed us how to drill holes in the ice. When he pointed to the spot on the auger that we would have to reach before hitting the water below, we were amazed at the thickness of the ice on the frozen lake. It must have been at least 3 feet so we felt totally safe - in spite of the occasional 'cracking' sounds as the ice shifted underneath and around us. 

Art attaches a minnow to the line
A really good teacher, Art explained every step involved in setting up a couple of 'station's where the fishing rod could stand independently, supported by a mound of ice just one foot away from the ice hole. These rods were fit with live minnows as bait, and a bell attached to the top would alert us to a successful bite, giving us time to get to the location and haul in the fish. 

He then proceeded to set us up with rods using lures and taught us to keep it moving so that unsuspecting fish would think it was something to eat, instead of just a piece of metal. Stools were provided or we could just stand. 

The weather was perfect - another clear blue sky with the sun constantly shining and sharing its warmth. There was no wind on the lake and the stillness and peacefulness was mesmerizing. What a wonderful way to pass time - surrounded by awesome scenery while waiting for the fish to bite. The occasional cool breeze was welcome and invigorating. 

Very soon, after getting set up, we started to shuck our outer clothes as it was unbelievably warm - even reaching 9 degrees which, for March in Northern Ontario, is a real blessing.

It wasn't long before I felt a tug on the line and pulled out my very first ice-fishing catch! The thrill of that moment will stay with me for a very long time. A few minutes later, Mark heard the tinkling of a bell and rushed over to one of the stations. Sure enough, there was another bite, and Mark used the hand-over-hand method that Art had taught us to bring in the second fish. 

In all, we caught 4 lake trout between us, within a the first couple of hours. 

There were a few other people out fishing - including some people that were known to our friends. Coming from the U.K., I am still fascinated by seeing vehicles on the frozen lakes - even though I've lived here, in Canada, since 1989. There were snowmobiles and 4-wheelers to be seen, which occasionally provided a contrast from the silence of the lake. (Though, our frequent chatter and banter also had the same effect!!)

4-wheelers in a huddle!

Art started a fire near the edge of the lake and CJ unpacked the Debrazini sausages ready for roasting. Just like when camping - there's something about being outside that stimulates the appetite; and there's nothing quite like the taste of food that has been grilled over an open fire. 

Cooking the Debrazini Wieners

The propane kettle was brought out and we washed down our wiener wraps with some nice warm herbal tea. CJ and Art are so well-prepared that it would never surprise us if they served up a 3-course meal on the frozen lake!!!

Anyone for a nice cuppa?

We continued to fish for another hour or so before we acknowledged that the feeding frenzy was probably over and that we wouldn't be catching any more. It was time to pack up and begin the trek back to the truck. 

Reaching their home, we enjoyed a beer/pop on the back deck, still enjoying the pleasant temperature before we congregated in the kitchen to watch the fish being gutted, cleaned, and prepared for cooking. 

Admiring the skill of these two professionals, we stood in awe as the fish were filleted, coated with spiced breadcrumbs, and placed into a pan alongside a second pan containing mixed veggies. 

By this time, appetites were well and truly whetted, and a glass of wine was in order. 

At last, the meal was ready, the table laid, and four happy campers sat down to enjoy the fruits of their labours. 

I asked for mine to be charred

Yummy in my Tummy!

I tell you, this Northern Ontario lifestyle suits us to the tee - especially when we are lucky enough to have good friends who are willing to share the thrills of being outdoors on such a fine, winter's day!

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