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> Ice fishing season starting late
Posted: Jan 01, 2012 - 10:32 am

Adult Trout

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Joined: August 10, 2011

Billy Bob Richards is in no hurry to get out onto area lakes.

Not until there's been at least a solid week of low temperatures, anyway.

The ice fishing season opens Sunday, but because of the late start to the winter, the ice is nowhere near ready.

"I wouldn't want to go out on the main lake," says Richards, who owns Billy Bob's Bait and Tackle.

He says there was probably four to five inches of ice on Callander Bay by Wednesday, not enough for snowmobiles to travel safely. And open water has been seen off Sunset Point, where many fishermen park their cars and trailers while engaging in their pursuit of Lake Nipissing delicacies.

"Along the shoreline it's not too bad," he says.

He says the recent snowfall is even more deceiving, because several inches of snow sit on perhaps one inch of ice far too little to support a grown man.

"I would walk out before you do anything," he said, adding this is one of the worst seasons he's seen in 25 years.

"A week of cold is needed before you can really go out," he said.

He pointed out that most operators have canceled their first week of ice hut rentals on the lake, particularly over the deep water, effectively losing the first week of the season.

Scott Chalmers is one of the operators keeping his eye on the long-range weather forecast, hoping Environment Canada is right.

The opening days, he says, will probably be lost for Chilly Willy's Ice Fishing Adventures, but he expects the eight ice-fishing bungalows his company owns to be out on the ice by Jan. 6.

"If the forecast stays good, we'll be out for the first weekend," he says Wednesday. "We have canceled (reservations) for the first few days."

Chilly Willy has eight bungalows six-person ice suites he tows out onto the ice on the South Shore and a number of day huts. But he wants at least eight to nine inches of ice before he tows out the larger units.

He said losing the first few days will not be a severe hardship.

"In '07 we couldn't put them out until 18-19 January," he says. "Over the last 10 years, this will be the third year we couldn't get out at the beginning."

Chalmers says his operation depends on weekend business, which looks promising for early January.

"Through the week, that's just gravy," he says.

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