Girls Gone Ice Fishing

Leading up to this year’s ice fishing season, I promised myself I would spend more time targeting various species of trout. There are loads of stocked trout waters throughout the province with some winter angling opportunities. It can almost be overwhelming upon viewing all the options on the Fish ON-Line website. It would take planning, and in some cases, some work to get to the back lakes I had in mind. Getting off the beaten path and away from the crowds to be surrounded by unspoiled wilderness is rewarding in itself. Throw in some great company, and catching stunning fish, and I can’t think of a better winter ice-fishing adventure!

My first trout adventure of the season took place a few weeks back when I set out with three female angler friends (Alyssa, Jenn, and Lori) in pursuit of rainbow trout and brook trout. We decided on Calabogie Lodge Resort as our base camp as it is central to many stocked trout lakes throughout the area. We booked in at the Terrace, a beautiful two-story accommodation with a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, a cozy pine interior, and a fireplace to lounge around after a day in the cold. It was a perfect spot for us to relax, visit, make delicious food, and get our gear rigged up.

Lori was kind enough to bring along her ATV and snowmobile, which enabled us to head far into the wilderness for a true back-lake experience. We loaded up two sleds to transport gear and began our journey through the woods. It was a beautiful ride as everything was covered in a blanket of snow. I was feeling very lucky to have these gals to share a weekend with and now just had hope we would top it off by landing some fish.

We decided to spend our first day focusing on rainbow trout and then brook trout the following day. We approached the first lake and I hopped off the ATV and set out with my ice picks and spud to ensure the ice was thick enough. It’s crucial to check all ice before venturing out, and it’s especially important this year due to the inconsistent winter weather we’ve been experiencing. We were good to go and began drilling holes at various depths. By drilling all the holes first, this would get the noise over with and let the fish settle back in. Trout are known to spook easily.

Our morning started off slow without any action, but then in the afternoon Lori and Jenn each landed their first rainbow trout through the ice back to back! Alyssa and I ran over to share the excitement and snap some quick photos before they released their fish. My hope for this trip was to see all the ladies land a trout, and we were halfway there. What I love about fishing with these women is their enthusiasm, excitement, and energy. We had all just met over the past couple of years, but after spending time on the water together in the fall, it felt as though we had been lifelong friends. Our first day on the ice was a success, and we were now anxious to see if we could get into some brook trout on day two.

We all had something different tied on from small spoons (1/16th ounce) in natural colours to white tubes. Each presentation was tipped with wax worms.

The next morning came quickly and we were off again to another new lake. We looked over a map to decide where to drill holes and got to work so we could start fishing. It didn’t take long for Alyssa to get hooked up with a brookie and we were all thrilled!

Although we had holes drilled in various depths, one area specifically (in about 17 feet of water) ended up producing all of our brook trout from the same three holes. Using my flasher, I was able to see that most fish were coming in suspended at about 13 feet down. With the clear water conditions, it’s always a good idea to jig a few feet off bottom, as fish have good visibility in these types of conditions and can come in from a distance.

After Alyssa’s first fish, the action picked up, and before long we were all landing fish one after another. They were showing up in small schools and fighting over our offerings. It was a riot! I lost count after a while and was blown away by the colour of each gorgeous fish.

I’m so glad I decided to spend more time on trout this year and I’m thankful to have these wonderful and inspiring ladies to share the water with. I know there will be many more adventures ahead of us. In fact, we’re already planning the next one.

About Ashley Rae

Ashley Rae is a year-round multi-species angler residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a full-time fishing writer and content creator. Ashley is passionate about chasing anything with fins from her boat, kayak, from shore, or on the ice

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