Ice fishing safety for if/when it freezes

This weeks outdoors column in the Pembroke Daily Observer:


Safety first when ice-fishing

 Photo courtesy of Jeff Morrison<br />
Avid winter angler Grant Bailey with a nice walleye pulled through the ice.
Avid winter angler Grant Bailey with a nice walleye pulled through the ice.

With ice fishing season presumably just around the corner, winter anglers are reminded that safety must always come first.

Winter anglers who venture out on the ice this winter, should always advise someone where they will be fishing and when they plan to return. Seasonally-appropriate clothing and equipment are also vital for safety and comfort. Some winter fisherfolk prefer to wear survival suits and carry a set of safety ice picks, while others go so far as constructing modified ‘ice cars’ with all the doors removed and the roof cut-out, in the event of an untimely plunge. Remember that ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers; especially at the start of the winter season when near-shore ice is always thicker than ice further out.

The Pembroke Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry wishes to advise anglers that not only is ice hut registration a requirement by law, it goes a long way to preventing wayward huts later in the season. Abandoned ice huts which end up in waterways after the thaw create havoc for boaters and early season fishermen. Registration numbers on all huts should be at least 2 1/2″ inches in height for improved visibility. You do not need to register tent-style huts made of cloth or synthetic material provided the base measurement is less than seven square metres. (75.4 square feet) To register your hut in Pembroke District, please call the MNRF at 613-732-3661

Supplemental deer feeding

Winter deer feeding is not just an enjoyable winter pastime it can be of great benefit to these animals as snow depth increases and temperatures drop. I currently have a half dozen, or so, whitetails feeding at my place which is about average for this time of year. I have had as many as 16 deer feeding at one time in the boom years. Remember that if you begin distributing feed in early winter, as I have, it is imperative to continue until spring as the animal’s digestive system will adapt to the supplemented diet. Ritchie’s Feed and Seed sells a terrific pelletized deer feed I’ve been using for years with good success. I’m sure other feed stores up the Valley produce a similar blend. Another less expensive way to help out our ‘deer friends’ during winter months is through increased access to natural winter forage, by creating hard-packed trail with snowmobile, ATV or even snowshoes. With deer numbers down in many areas it wouldn’t hurt to provide a helping hand this winter.

Fish, Hunt & Ride magazine – now available!

By now, sporting enthusiasts in the Valley have caught a glimpse of my new hunting and fishing magazine – Fish, Hunt & Ride (FHR) – distributed this past week to more than 100 outlets across Eastern and Northern Ontario and Western Quebec. My writing team not only includes regular material from Pembroke native (and trapper extraordinaire) Jordan Durocher, as well as a team of other great local writers, you have surely been enjoying Ted Nugent’s first FHR column. Uncle Ted will be with the magazine each and every issue. Feel free to send comments or suggestions on this new local publication and be sure to check out our Fish, Hunt & Ride (FHR) website:

Great Outdoors Trivia Contest

Every year I hold a Great Outdoors Trivia Contest, in some form or another. They are always well received and include a generous price package courtesy of Tinks Scents and Brecks/Williams fishing tackle. This year I decided to kick the contest off right here with my good friends at the Pembroke Daily Observer! Everyone knows there are more hunters, fishermen and trappers per capita living in the Ottawa Valley than almost anywhere else in the world! You will need to be sharp and stealthy for this array of trivia questions, as they will require not only a vast knowledge of the great outdoors, but a keen eye as well. Stay tuned in January for Question #1.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all and I’ll see you right here next month!

17 thoughts on “Ice fishing safety for if/when it freezes”

  1. I feed the deer around my cottage with bird seed. They seem to really enjoy it. A guy I know up Ashdad way goes and cuts cedar tree making it much easier to access it. They strip the cut trees bare in no time. Ice fishing hahaha I’ll be golfing next week instead
    I’ve had a lot of people ask about the magazine but still haven’t seen it at the stores yet

  2. Looking forward to the trivia contest. Merry Christmas and Happy new year Jeff and family and all his followers.


  3. Trapping reality shows annoy the p**s out of me. Such a small percentage of it is accurate and most of it is drama. And there ain’t no auction house in the world that pays $300 for a beaver in fact a $100 beaver is a rarity.

  4. It’s not a reality show Trapper. It’s done by Rich and Sandi Mellon. They are real trappers on a real trap line. Interesting show. They’ve showed skinning and trapping everything from Muskrat Beavers Lynx Fisher and Martin. They are sponsored by Belisle Traps and Argo

    1. Good stuff Iggs..can’t wait to see the print version…and stay tuned everyone for a list of distribution sites.

      For now check out our website for a great digital version of Fish, Hunt & Ride magazine

      Check it out: and be sure to click on cover photo!


  5. Thank you Jeff and right back at ya – Happy New Years to you and everyone else on your Blog! May we all remain healthy, happy in 2016! Big year for us as we will become first time grandparents early in the new year. Cheers to all.

  6. Big buck tried to come across the lake yesterday. The lake is about 500 yards across.
    Got within 100 yards of shore. Went thru the ice at high noon. Died at 4:30. Looks like a 10 pointer. It’s 93 yards off shore. I’ll verify the points in a couple of days.

  7. The new Fish Hunt and Ride magazine is now available at numerous stores at Centrum Plaza and at Al’s Corner Store as well as Gourlies in Renfrew and The General Store in Griffith

    And the new Bounder magazine is out as well.

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