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Weather makes for wild winter of ice fishing

The overall outlook on how this winter has been for ice fishing might depend on where you are located.

NORTHERN ONTARIO -- The overall outlook on how this winter has been for ice fishing might depend on where you are located.

Pasha Lake Cabins owner, operator and guide Victoria Charles said on Friday morning that despite a late start to the season due to warm weather, the ice has been incredible.

“Last year we had a ton of slush, which was ranging anywhere from about a foot and a half to two feet,” Charles said. “Now we have about two feet of ice out there, which is great.

“Our guests are certainly a lot happier as we had a lot of sleds getting buried last year. With the ice freezing the way we wanted it to, we’ve had ice fishers starting to come in over the last week and we expect them to start flooding in here over the next little bit.”

While things are going well at Pasha Lake, those favourable conditions aren’t quite the same elsewhere.

Derek Hefner, who is the president of the Ontario Conservation Officers Association, said it has been an uncharacteristic winter across the province.

“There’s been a lot of bizarre weather patterns and temperatures, so it’s made the ice conditions kind of dicey in certain areas, to say the least,” Hefner said.

“We always encourage anglers to make sure they are monitoring the ice conditions through drilling test holes, especially with the recent snow some places have got. That brings on slush, which can be detrimental as well.”

Hefner, who is based out of Pembroke and gets feedback from regional representatives on what’s happening around Ontario, said this has been the most bizarre winter he’s seen in a while.

“You had certain areas of Northern Ontario that didn’t have any snow until around Christmas, then you had parts of southern Ontario that got a ton of it,” Hefner added.

“When I’ve talked to the conservation officers in Northwestern Ontario, they’ve reported it to be an uncharacteristic year with varying degrees of ice levels.

“Every waterway has its own characteristics, with the current and wind affecting ice conditions.”

When asked what tips he would give to anglers who are looking to do some ice fishing this winter, Hefner said it’s important for everyone to be vigilant and look after themselves.

“A lot of common sense applies for any outdoor activities at this time of year,” Hefner added.

“Make sure you tell people where you are going. There are a lot of people who will go it alone but just giving someone a notification of where you are going will provide them with an idea of where to locate you if your snowmobile breaks down or something happens.

“Also, we advise having all of the important safety equipment, whether that’s a cell phone or a satellite phone if you need to contact emergency personnel, or carrying a set of matches for the ability to light a fire and get warm quick in case you need to spend the night - or if you are in an area where the temperature can get quite low.”