While the recent cold plunge has most Hatters feeling the winter blahs, it is an exciting development for local ice fishers, as lakes finally freeze up hard enough to get out on ice.
“When you put the boat away in the fall, it’s just too long until next spring not to fish,” says passionate local ice-fisherman Gary Patzer. “I guess you can say I have that urge to get out there. You set up your ice camp. You figure out where you want your holes. Then you drill them and set up your electronics.
“I actually prefer fishing outside of the shack, but if it is real cold the shack is a nice thing. You put a little propane heater on in there, and then you just sit there and wait for the fish.”
Patzer says he intends to get out on the lake in the first week of the New Year, and he has bought some new gadgets for himself this Christmas to make the ice-fishing experience an even more enjoyable one.
“I used to have a gas-powered auger to drill down into the ice until last year,” he explains. “Then I bought an electric one, and there is no fumes. Those fumes take forever to get out of the ice-fishing tent.
“You also use a little bit different electronics. You use an underwater camera and a flasher unit which you put down the hole to tell you if there is fish in the area.”
Patzer also has the latest ice suit and a fully-rigged, tent-style fishing shack to stay comfortable in cold weather conditions.
“You make a day of it,” says Patzer. “You take the barbecue with you. You get music pumped into the shack from a little portable music device. You got all your amenities with you, and it makes for a pretty nice day. In your ice suit you are pretty warm too.”
Patzer says Lake Newell, Kinbrook Island Park, Forty Mile Lake and Chin Lake tend to be his favourite local ice-fishing spots. He’s not particular about which fish he catches, but prefers walleye.
“I am usually aiming for walleye,” he confirms, “and in the meantime you could end of catching pike or perch or burbot. Burbot are supposed to be good eating, but I really can’t stand the sight of them. They are uglier than sin.”
Patzer says his ideal temperature for ice-fishing is between -10 C and -15 C.
“It passes the time until spring,” states Patzer. “To not fish when the ice comes on the lake until May is too long.”