Winter fun in the Great Outdoors!!

My February column is now out in the fabulous Pembroke Daily Observer newspaper! Shout-out to my pals Anthony Dixon and Tina Peplinkie who bring the daily news to folks in the upper Ottawa Valley!

Check it out online:


Winter fun in the Great Outdoors! 

 Photo courtesy of Jeff Morrison<br /><br /><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.)

Ice-fishing fanatics up the Ottawa Valley are coming off one of the busiest weekends of the season. This past weekend, Ontario residents were out in full force enjoying the merits of Family Fishing Weekend – a province-wide initiative celebrating the sport of winter angling and without the otherwise mandatory fishing licence. Seven years ago it was decided that a festive winter fishing weekend would be adopted to mirror National Fishing Week events during the summer. But hey, just because Family Fishing Weekend is behind us doesn’t mean ice fishing is done for the year. This bitter cold snap has ensured several more weeks of safe and solid winter angling!

Sportsmen’s Show this weekend

Ottawa’s Ernst and Young Centre plays host to some 25,000 outdoor enthusiasts this weekend. The Ottawa Boat and Sportsman’s Show is Eastern Ontario’s largest outdoor recreational event and a great opportunity to browse the latest in outdoor gadgetry, new watercraft and see some few familiar faces. The show will feature more than 150,000 sqare feet of exhibitor space offering this year’s best place to buy a boat, accessories and gear. Preview this year’s hottest boating and fishing tackle, plan your next outdoor getaway or learn how to fish from some of Canada’s top fishing pros. Any event that features Big Jim McLaughlin is alright in my books!

Valley Fishing and Outdoor Show in March!

The 15th annual Valley Fishing and Outdoors Show arrives next month, better mark it on your calendar! The brainchild of my old pal Dave Arbour, this year’s show is set for March 27-29 at the Carp Fairgrounds and Arena and will feature everything from casting ponds to archery, shooting and fishing simulators. With more than 100 exhibitors and lots of hunting and fishing equipment this truly is the best the valley has to offer. And this year, yours truly will be on hand hanging out in the Redneck Barn. There will be a top-notch chef on hand, a Miss Redneck fashion show, great prizes and more. Come out and say hi, I’d love to chat! Best of luck to Dave Arbour who is undergoing surgery this week. Get well soon my friend so you’ll be ready for your show in March!

Testing testing

Thank goodness this winter for Kamik’s Snow Shield ultra-cold weather boots I had the pleasure of trying out. This homegrown boot manufacturer, which has become world-renowned for its winter footwear, has somehow produced a pair of boots worthy of walking on the moon. These beauties are rated to -100 Celcius and are completely waterproof with 900 Denier and seam-sealed construction. The large format winter boots boast a moisture wicking lining, special Lace Lock snow collar and are encompassed by a patented lightweight synthetic rubber shell. The removable 24mm Zylextreme liner and 4.5mm EVA insole were just what the doctor ordered recently at Petrie Island’s Oziles ice fishing village. The Kamik Snow Shield boots are ideal for ice fishing and make standing on the frozen hardtop seem like a warm summer’s stroll in the park! For more information on Kamik’s full-line of winter footwear:

Quebec brochure now available

For anyone planning a trip to Quebec this year, the 2015 hunting and fishing brochure is now available. With a full rating system, facilities breakdown and sporting opportunities, the hunting, fishing and lodging brochure is a handy guide for non-resident sportsmen. Contact Quebec’s Ministry of Tourism at: 1-877-BONJOUR

Big ones through the ice!

With the winter angling season now in full swing, I am searching for big fish stories. If you have hauled a lunker through the ice, I would love to hear from you. Your big fish story may be featured right here in my March column. Send your story to and feel free to attach a photo.

31 thoughts on “Winter fun in the Great Outdoors!!”

  1. Been too darn cold to do to the cottage so far this year. Should be lots of ice at least but I haven’t even put gas in my auger.

    1. Yes, Ive been hearing the same from lots of guys. My pal ‘maple’ (from the photo above) only hit Quinte couple of times this winter, but snow drifts etc really put a wrench in the fishing. He’s hoping to get out one more time before closing!

      Many guys actively ice-fish at Bobs?


      1. Man, I have such fond memories of ice-fishing..don’t get out nearly as much anymore! Used to winter fish every week back in college days in the Kawarthas’!

        Lake Scugog was really the only Kawartha lake that offered winter angling and the fish were pretty small, so we used to travel up into Minden district…over to Simcoe, good times!!

        Then there was the time we discovered some AWESOME walleye fishing on a lake we THOUGHT was open for ice-fishing..hehe..but that’s another story which might get me in trouble


  2. I called that phone number and ordered up a catalog
    Will be interesting to read through.
    The Quebec government seems to be years ahead of
    Ontario in outdoor tourism
    Thanks Jeff

    1. No prob Iggs, and look at you with another QC hunting trip planned for this year. Things aren’t too shabby over on that side of the river, are they?

      Glad you ordered the new QC Tourism brochure..and if you have any questions, you know where to ask! My friends Denyse and Gregory at QC’s Ministry of Tourism are always there!!

      OH, and you’re right Iggs…in some aspects, the province of QC is ahead of ON with their fish & wildlife management.


  3. I expect there are lots of fishermen but Bob’s a big lake and my cottage is on a small part of it with little winter road access so I don’t know for sure. My bay doesn’t ever seem to have many shacks, most I have seen is 3 and I haven’t even been there. This is a year I suspect everyone is driving on it if they can get on somewhere. Apparently there are a lot of whitefish but I have never fished for them there, only on Simcoe. I also wanted to try the crappies as they were prolific there this summer.

      1. Johan, if ever you do make it out for whities..and happen to catch one. Check out this recipe from my Canadian Fishing Cookbook:

        Baked Whitefish Florentine
        Serves 4

        The lake whitefish is one of the lesser-known coldwater fish species found in Canada, yet it is still one of the most important. At one time, whitefish was the most important commercial fish species in the country. They are found mostly in cold, northern lakes and are often associated with the lake trout because they share similar habitat. The lake whitefish is a close relative of the trout and is often caught on lake bottoms by ice fishermen during the wintertime. The whitefish’s flaky white meat and mild taste make it an ideal choice for a variety of dishes.

        2 cups chopped spinach
        ½ cup breadcrumbs
        2 eggs
        ½ cup chopped onion 1 tsp garlic powder
        6 whitefish fillets (about 1½ lbs [680 g] total)
        ½ cup white wine
        2 Tbsp each melted butter and lemon juice
        1 tsp paprika
        1½ cups steamed spinach, well drained

        Preheat oven to 350º F (175° C) and grease shallow baking dish. Combine spinach, breadcrumbs, egg substi- tute, onion and garlic powder in bowl. Arrange fillets in prepared baking dish and spoon spinach mixture on centre of each fillet. Stir wine, butter and lemon juice in bowl or glass measuring cup and pour over fish.
        Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 25 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.
        Place steamed spinach on serving platter and top with fish. Serve with
        rice, if desired.

        1. Here’s another good whitefish recipe from same book:

          Great Lakes Broiled Whitefish

          Serves 4

          Lake Superior, or Gitchi Gummi as the First Nations called it, is by far the largest and deepest of all the Great Lakes in both area (31,700 mi2 [82,100 km2]) and volume (2,900 mi3 [12,100 km3]). At one time, the lake whitefish was one of the most important fish of the Lake Superior commercial fisheries. Although not as commercially important today, Superior whitefish are said to be going strong. Lake Superior is, after all, categorized as oligotrophic (low in plant nutrients and rich in oxygen), which provides ideal habitat for both the whitefish and trout that live in the lake in solid numbers. The largest whitefish ever caught weighed an incredible, scale-straining 42 lbs (19 kg), and was caught in the northwestern part of Lake Superior in 1918.

          ¼ cup melted butter, divided
          tsp salt
          1 tsp ground pepper
          3 lbs (1.4 kg) whole whitefish, cleaned bones removed, not filleted
          1 tsp lemon juice
          2 Tbsp chopped parsley
          lemon wedges, for garnish

          Preheat broiler. Brush broiler racklightly with some melted butter. Stir salt and pepper into remaining butter. Brush inside of whitefish with some butter mixture. Place whitefish on broiler rack. Brush skin with small amount of butter mixture. Reserve remaining butter mixture. Broil whitefish 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) away from source of heat for about 10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork. Place whitefish on serving platter. Stir lemon juice and parsley into remaining butter mixture and pour over whitefish. Garnish with lemon wedges.

  4. A couple of times I went to a bud’s on Simcoe we did some up with a rice stuffing, then wrapped it in pastry and we bake it. Was that tasty or what, a bit of a production though. I have only seen one whitey at Bob’s, that was one floating belly up on my shoreline in the middle of summer

    1. Well, I’ve honestly never caught a whitefish thru the ice, but I did catch a couple open water fishing in Northern QC’s massive Lac Mistassini..150 miles of fishing paradise, at least it used to be. Our biggest brookie from that lake? 7.5 pounds(28″) if you can believe it, and my personal best was 6.5 pounds! (gonna beat that this spring though) the whities we caught were 3-4 pounds.


  5. Some of my fondest memories are of ice fishing remote spec lakes North of the Sault with my dad. It didn’t matter if it was -40 or raining we’d make the trek and spend the entire day pulling specs or browns through the ice. I’m lucky to get out once a year now.

  6. morning jeff my brother just moved up to keswick and i can’t get over the size of perch , pickerel and whitefish that they are catching as well as the over 100 ice shacks, got to get up there before the ice starts to move

    1. mike, there’s probably 100 ice huts in Cooks Bay alone(Keswick)…there are probably more than 1000 huts on Simcoe altogether, maybe more. I fished Cooks Bay a couple of times, it’s very shallow there with only perch and pike as far as I know.

      It’s actually the first place I ever saw one of these ‘Ice Cars’ with all the doors and windows removed..just in case they go in for a plunge thru the ice! Smart idea actually since it happens every year!

      Almost bought a hut on Cooks back in early 1990-91 with my buddies, but decided not to since there were no real walleye opps in that part of the lake. We started to go up around Jackson’s Point after that..big part of the lake and much deeper. Location of the ‘Through the ice Catch & Release World Record Walleye’ at one time. Lad’s name was Mike Wessell..and he caught the 16-pound plus eye on a Williams ice jig!

      Now that is friggin big..even on Quinte that would be a monster!!!


  7. Simcoe whitey fishing is an event that I have yet to experience anywhere else. 10km out and hundreds of people in cars, trucks, sleds, atv of all kinds, airplanes, helicopters, you name it, its there an you can barely see shore. If the whitey school shifts the word gets out and the entire human mass shifts to the new spot. Its crazy to watch. Mostly snagging from what I could tell but nothing like hooking a 7lb fish in the tail for a fight.
    My auger might not get gas this year.

    1. johan, I only fished the real deep water in Simcoe one time, and you’re right it is an experience. The part that freaked me out was driving the snowmobile overtop of a huge pressure crack! I guess my fear was warrented since many people have been stranded on the otherside.


  8. Well, I haven’t been out ice fishing at all this year (maybe I should consider selling all my stuff), but I went in the backyard and practiced casting with my new baitcasting rod and reel.

    “Perruques / Backlash / Birds-nest” sound familiar to some. Although all the adjustment made to reel, got to control the casting and when to “thumb” the spool.

    LOL, bring on Spring and open water.

    1. Ahhh LG…having fun with the new bait casting equipment, eh! I have two full bait casting set-ups for Muskie..with large heavy-duty Abu Gargia baitcasting reels. Both right-hand wind…never got used to reeling with the right-hand and casting with the left.

      Adjusting the tensioner..or brake on those baitcasters is easy…and since the lures are so large casting isn’t difficult either. It’s the smaller, lighter action baitcasting reels that require a bit more finesse and ‘feathering’ or thumbing the spool. Key is to make sure the spool never spins faster than the line flying out..hehe

      Or you get those dreaded ‘nid de oiseau, tabernac!”


  9. Yeah, I have been practising with only a light yellow throwing plug, instead of heavier lures. That may be my problem.

    Trying to adjust and practice with it with very light weight, since I was wondering if I could cast a big streamer fly. Testing its versatility. LOL

    Reel is the Shimano Curado 200 HG.
    Rod is the G.Loomis E6X Classic Mag Bass 6’6″ Med-Heavy, Fast, 1/4-3/4oz.

    30lb braided line, with 20lb Flurocarbon line tied with Stern Knot.

    1. Well LG, ‘go big or go home’ they always say!! G.Loomis are generally regarded as some of the best rods on the market. Back in my muskie days, they were the ‘go-to’ muskie rod, but alas a little too rich for my blood at the time, so I stuck with the middle of the road Abu rods.

      YES..most definitely weight is your problem with regards to any dreaded nid de ouiseau! Once you’ve mastered the ‘feel’ of casting something heavier on the end…you’ll be much more adept with a lighter weight like a streamer. I remember an old bait-casting ‘tuning tip’ I saw on an old In-Fisherman vids…to properly adjust the brake on your baitcaster, first hook-up the luerre you plan on using..and then hold the rod straight out at waist level. Press the spool release(casting button) The luerre should easily fall to the ground, but your spool should NOT continue to run-on after the luerre has landed. If it has trouble falling on its own, OR it falls to the ground quickly and the spool line continues to run-out, you need to adjust accordingly. You may require a heavier lure for this test.

      When Im muskie fishing and casting a lot, I check my reel brake couple of times throughout the day to make sure its adjusted properly.


  10. I want to know when The Large is having g a garage sale and I am requesting that I’m allowed to peruse and buy all the toys he has that have only been used once a day early.
    That man has every toy know to to outdoors man/lady and most vary used 🙂

  11. Well.

    What do you guys want? Maybe (surely) I have it. Just need to figure out if I’m ever going to use it again, and if not, then why keep it if you may use it.

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