Ice fishing can appear intimidating to a new comer. My best advice is to never go alone. Be sure to go with someone that is knowledgeable when it comes to ice safety and exercise caution at all times. With a few key factors in mind you are in for a great experience.
Dressing for the elements is one of the most important parts of an enjoyable ice fishing trip. I always tend to overdress. That has never left me feeling cold which would take away from the experience dramatically. I recommend a thermal flotation suit. Not only are they very warm, but in the event that you were to go through the ice you have flotation to your benefit but this is certainly not a necessity. A good pair of thermal wind proof pants and a warm jacket will suffice.
I will generally wear a balaclava to cover my head, face and neck while in transit to and from the area we are fishing. I like this for two reasons. I am completely covered and warm when I need to be, and I can lift it up and fold it to fit my head only once inside a hut. A good pair of boots is critical. The ice is cold and your feet will be on it the entire time. I have a pair of slip-on ice cleats that I like to put on my boots as well, for traction purposes. I wear a pair of ice picks on a string around my neck as well. These will allow me to pull myself up and out of the water if I happened to go through. Match all of that up with a decent pair of gloves and you are ready to enjoy some time on the ice!
This is a big one. As I mentioned previously, go with someone that knows the area and practices an understanding and respect for ice safety. There are many factors that come in to play when it comes to ice thickness. During the first few trips of the season a “spud” is a great tool. Pounding the ice with one of these every few feet on your way out will give you a fair indication of thickness. Drilling a hole at the shoreline is also a good preliminary test of ice thickness.
Do I Need a Hut?
A hut is definitely not a requirement! Especially on those milder days of winter. They do have some serious advantages however. Not only are you sheltered from the elements, you are quite warm inside the comfort of a hut. I generally have a little propane heater with me and often find myself sitting inside without a jacket, toque or gloves. The huts are often built in to a collapsible sled that can be used to transport all of your gear back and forth. The overhead canopy that it provides shields the hole you are fishing from glare, and allows you to see into the water. And that is a lot of fun when fishing shallow and clear waters. Watching the fish eat your offering is a site to behold. I find the hut to also be a great opportunity to talk and discuss presentations with the person next to you. Improving both individuals’ odds for success while adding to the comradery of the experience.
What Gear is Required?
I think the best aspect of ice fishing is that it is fairly inexpensive to get started and just about everything you will need can be found at your local sporting good or fishing store.
A medium heavy action rod and reel combo spooled with 8 to 10lb fishing line is quite literally the only setup you need to target just about everything that swims in the Kawarthas Northumberland region. A handful of great start up bait recommendations include something loud and rattling, something flashy, and something small and subtle:
You will of course need a valid Ontario Outdoors Card with your fishing license. This is often something that is forgotten given the time of year we are generally out on the ice. I recommend a Sport license if you plan on keeping your catch.
An auger is required to drill your holes. Several options are out there and accessible. Manual and power. I would recommend a manual auger with either an 8 or 10 inch diameter. They really do drill through the ice quite easily and are inexpensive for a beginner. Auger blades are VERY sharp. Handle with extreme care.
Catch Some Fish!
Now that you are all setup, holes drilled and baits tied on. Experiment with different depths of the water column that you are fishing. A beginner will not likely have a depth finder or flasher of sorts. So use your baits to determine how deep you are fishing. Present them on the bottom, just below the ice, and in the middle of the water column until you make contact with fish.
Fishing for me is about the experiences. The relationships and comradery that develops. Don’t get me wrong! The fish are a big part of that, and catching them is a blast. But the time spent in the outdoors with family and close friends are what keeps me coming back for more. The Kawarthas Northumberland region of Ontario is my home. And I plan to continue making fishing memories here in her 350 lakes and rivers for many years to come. Come and see for yourself!
Before I get into the restaurants let’s explore the number one dairy product in the Kawarthas Northumberland. I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream! Kawartha Dairy has been in operation since 1937 and when they started making Ice Cream in the 1950’s it was transformative. They’re 100% family owned you can’t go anywhere in the Kawartha Northumberland area without finding Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream being served. There are 8 retail locations to visit plus virtually every restaurant serves it. I visited the original store in Bobcaygeon and sampled a few flavours before I settled on the Black Raspberry Thunder in a cone. It doesn’t get any better on a hot summer day than this, or any day of the year for that matter.
Not far away from Bobcaygeon in the town of Fenelon Falls is The Cow & Sow Eatery. A favourite of the locals this eatery serves up cold brews and hand crafted food in a casual and fun environment. The burgers are on point and if you like it a bit messy try the Grilled Cheese with Ham and Spinach. It’s ooey gooey good.
Craving some authentic schnitzel? In the town of Apsley you will find a Swiss lodge that serves up home cooked schnitzels and pastries that will have you coming back for more. You can have your schnitzel in a bun as a sandwich or as a full meal on a plate. I went for the plate and could not get enough of it. Comfort food at its best. The Swiss Bear is also a stop on The Butter Tart Tour so make sure to grab one of the sweet treats before you leave.
You are driving through the backroads of Otonabee South and you see a sign for BBQ. Would you think to stop? Probably not, but you absolutely should. Muddy’s Pit BBQ is a food destination worthy of your visit. Brisket, Sausage, or Ribs? Can’t decide? Have the carnivore platter and try them all. make sure to order a couple of sides because everything is made scratch in house! The Baked Beans are smokey sweet goodness.
You may have to line up at this burger joint in Port Hope. You Gotta Eat Canada recently filmed here and when the secret gets out everyone will know how good the burgers are. Named after the Greek Gods, each burger offers something unique. I feasted on the Zeus Burger which has Peameal Bacon, Aged White Cheddar and Sautéed Onions. If you are in the “know” go online and search for the secret menu of Burgers. You won’t find them listed in the restaurant, it’s a secret.
A short walk away from the Coburg Via Rail station and only 15 minutes away from the beach is the historic Woodlawn Country Inn & Restaurant. If you are not lucky enough to stay overnight here then book a reservation for dinner in their dining room. It’s fancy enough to be a treat yet casual enough that you can relax while you dine. The menu is sophisticated and delicious plus they have a nice wine list to pair each dish with. If you get the chance to meet the owner ask him to share some of the history of the Inn as he is a great story teller and is a wealth of Cobourg Historical facts.
If Steak is your thing then Rare Grill House will set your lips to smacking. Sophisticated decor and excellent service sets the background for what I promise will be a great meal. You can order off the menu or try one of the daily features that are prepared with in season ingredients. If you ask nicely enough the Chef may just create something for you like this Blue Cheese Burger with Boudin Sausage. One of the best burgers I’ve had in ages.
Part of the Butter Tart Tour, the Whistle Stop Cafe is famous for having over 100 types of Poutine on offer. You heard me right, 100 different Poutines! The go to spot for late night munchies if you can’t find a poutine here that you like then you are impossible to please. I sampled a Vegan, Classic and Pulled Pork Poutine. Which did I prefer? Funny enough the Vegan was AMAZING, although I would eat any of them and be quite happy. Who doesn’t like french fries smothered in Cheese Curds and Gravy after all?
It is a rare thing to visit a restaurant on its second day of operation and be blown away, but that is exactly what happened at the newest Italian restaurant in town, Johnny Vino’s. Even though it was a small menu there were plenty of appetizing options to choose from. My dinner date had Lasagna while I went for the massive Veal Chop that I could barely finish. Coming soon the desserts will all be made in-house and I hear the Chef is particularly good at making cannoli. I will be back just to try those.
Don’t feel like eating out? Perhaps you want to pick up some cheese and some crackers for a picnic while you road trip through the region? The place to stop for the best and biggest selection in town is Chasing The Cheese. With an amazing selection of local Ontario cheeses as well as those from around the World you are bound to find a favourite and a new favourite here. Stock up on some Olives and some condiments and you are all set for a lovely treat at your discretion. Perhaps a cheese plate in your hotel room as you wind down from a day of exploring? Sounds perfect to me.
A Cheese Plate Sampler
This is just what I’ve uncovered in three days. Imagine if I had a few weeks to find every culinary gem in the area. From casual dining to finer fare there is something for everyone in Kawarthas Northumberland. You just have to get here to experience them for yourself!
Marc Smith is a travel and lifestyle writer at 30 Day Adventures. What started out as being a tourist in his own city has blossomed into a nomadic adventure exploring Canada, the United States, and the World one adventure at a time. You can follow along with his adventures on his blog at www.30dayadventures.ca or live via his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Be warned you may just get inspired to get off the couch and have an adventure of your own.
From the creators of the award-winning Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour comes this deliciously crave-worthy weekend in the heart of Northumberland County.
Over the weekend of November 11 to 13, come and enjoy the comfort and hospitality of our participating B&Bs, unique shopping in our quaint towns and villages, special passport savings, heritage recipes and take home souvenirs on this self-guided tour weekend.
Find out more about our resort, inns and spa partners across the region
Your Sweet Treat Tour Package includes:
Overnight stay with breakfast and welcome gift
Two Sweet Treat Tour tickets ($40 value)
Sweet Treat tasting, heritage recipe, gift and tour of each participating B&B
Passport with unique savings at local shops & eateries
Chance to win a one-night stay at your favourite B&B on the tour
Tour operates on Saturday November 12th from 11:00AM to 4:00PM and includes stops in Brighton, Campbellford, and Hastings. Guests receive a passport stamp at each B&B location on the tour. Once filled, passport ballots are submitted at the final B&B visited. Ballots will be entered for a chance to win a one-night stay at the B&B of the winner’s choice.
Tour Only tickets for Saturday November 12 (with no overnight accommodation) are also available for $20.00 (plus $1.80 online processing fee) per person and can be purchased separately on this link , or by contacting us at the Kawarthas Northumberland office at 705-874-8505 extension 103 or by email. Tour Tickets are limited and are non-refundable.
The following B&Bs have Sweet Treat packages available for purchase:
The Brighton Inn Bed & Breakfast is housed in a historic Victorian home two blocks from Brighton′s main cross roads and an easy drive from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Enjoy the old world charm and modern convenience of our elegantly restored 1890′s Victorian bed and breakfast. Whether your destination is Presqu′ile Park, the wineries of Prince Edward County or exploring Northumberland County, you will feel at home in our comfortable surroundings.
Emilyville Inn, a four season destination, is walking distance from local cuisine, gift shops, boat docking, tourist information, the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge and close to Ferris Provincial Park. Each of our five themed bedrooms including our honeymoon suite, (with a private balcony), have ensuite baths, duvets, cozy bathrobes, and heated towel bars. An outdoor hot tub on the second floor balcony will help you unwind from your long day.
Hastings House is a finely appointed Bed and Breakfast with three bedrooms, each with a modern, private bath. Open year round and located 3 blocks from the downtown, across the road from the Trent Waterway, this former blacksmith shop has been restored to a cozy home, with the ambience of a quiet retreat in the country and all the amenities that allow for comfort and relaxation.
Imagine yourself on a prestigious waterfront property, enjoying all the spoils of the good life. Windswept on the Trent a four seasons destination, is located just north of Campbellford, Ontario, Canada and is on the Trent River at one of its widest points.
Come to the farm for a unique shopping experience. Buy some yarn or that one of a kind item made at the farm and we’ll be happy to show you the alpacas that contributed to the end product. Alpaca is an incredible fibre with exceptional properties. Alpaca is warmer than sheep’s wool, wicks water away from your skin, is water resistant, resists odors, is not picky and contains no grease. Alpaca is also flame resistant.
Visit this historic Maple Museum and Sugar Shack that’s been in the family since 1862. That’s over 150 years! Come and enjoy a free self-guided tour of the Maple Museum of maple production through the years. When you’re ready for a sweet treat, come and taste samples of syrups and maple butters, enjoy a special tour discount on 1L maple syrup bottles and shop from their delicious assortment of maple goodies. Open Saturday only.
The Empire Cheese Co-op is the only cheese manufacturing plant operating in Northumberland County and the first one east of Toronto! We are now HACCP registered, the top of the heap in food quality standards! Empire Cheese is owned by local dairy farmers who hold an election each year to vote in a Board of Directors to run the factory. At Empire, our cheese is made in the traditional way in open-style vats which in our opinion gives the cheese and curd a better flavour. We use no additives to boost production and there are no flavours added to our Cheddar. It is all natual, with no preservatives added.
Offering Sweet Treat Tour participants 15% off all purchases
The Blue House is located on Main St. in downtown Brighton. The main floor gift shop is filled with home and garden decor, linens, local art, jewelry and gift items, where you are bound to find the perfect gift for yourself, a special friend, a bridal shower or wedding. Owner Anna Thomson is constantly searching for items that are interesting and unique. Stock changes frequently and new items arrive weekly. A gift registry is available to make shopping easier and gift wrapping is always free.
The General is about well chosen products, it’s about artisans creating amazing things and about makers providing artisanal goods. It’s a way to enjoy the things we need while respecting and loving the creative input that makes many of these goods unique. It’s this authentic passion, this desire to really get into the deep end of the pool that makes this venture so enticing. The General goes to great lengths to source independent Canadian and local makers, who produce hand-made products, focusing on home grown whenever possible.
G. Boyd Boutique is loaded with high-quality, fashion-forward styles of the latest shoes, boots, handbags and jewellery. Ladies step out in the latest fashions and comfort. Great Footwear for formals, weddings, special occasions, and everyday looks that turn heads. A wide range of ladies handbags in all colours, shapes and sizes. Featuring one-of-a-kind accessories from local artists.
Have you ever wanted to win a night at the Canadian Canoe Museum? Or a back-country winter camping trip? Or maybe a couples cottage resort weekend with culinary delights and relaxing spa treatments at Elmhirst’s Resort? Why not leave the planning to us and enter for your chance to win one of our great Winter Escapes in Kawarthas Northumberland.
Each of our Escapes has been carefully crafted to highlight some of the best winter experiences across our region. Whether you’re hoping for a family vacation for six or just a romantic winter escape for two, we have you covered. Each draw is open to enter for just two weeks, and we won’t be rolling over the entries so come back to enter once for each contest that you want to win. Winners will be notified by December 15, 2016 so these could be a great holiday surprise for your family and friends.
Cottage, Culinary & Spa for Two
Entries are now closed for this contest.
Enjoy a two‐night weekend cottage stay for two at Elmhirst’s Resort, in your own private deluxe cottage complete with daily maid service. Upon arrival, you’ll find a gift basket filled with regional goodies, valued at $500. Your dinner on Friday night is taken care of too… with a table d’ hote three-course dinner for two. While at the Resort, you will enjoy the Country Classic Package that includes Saturday breakfast and dinner in the Hearthside Room and Elmhirst’s famous Sunday Brunch. During your relaxing stay, you’ll enjoy a complimentary wine cellar tour, tasting and a $50 wine gift certificate. We’ll even provide you the opportunity to unwind with a $500 Elmhirst spa gift certificate too. You will also enjoy your choice of sleigh or wagon rides, kite boarding, snow shoeing, or ice fishing… all included and weather permitting.
A Night at the Museum
Entries are now closed for this contest.
Here’s your chance to win an overnight stay for up to six people at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Upon your afternoon arrival at the Museum, your group will be given an exclusive tour of the collection and time for special activities designed especially for you. Enjoy dinner at your choice of Peterborough locations with your $200 voucher. Once back at the Museum we’ll surprise you with a Voyageur-themed gift basket valued at $1,000. Then you’ll be set to learn how to carve your own souvenir canoe paddle. As an evening snack, you will enjoy freshly prepared bannock and spruce tea. As the night settles in over the collection, you’ll be regaled with paddling stories & songs at the Voyageur Encampment, and maybe even a movie around the campfire. Sleep in comfort in your cots and sleeping bags, snuggled in cozy Wig Wam or Voyageur Encampment to conclude your night at the Museum. Don’t worry though, a catered breakfast will brought in for you and with time to finish the carving of your souvenir canoe paddle.
Backcountry Winter Camping
Entries are now closed for this contest.
Enjoy the Winter Prospector Basecamp all-inclusive and escorted overnight winter camping trip from The Land Canadian Adventure for up to four people. We’ll also include a gift basket of delectable regional treats and goodies valued at $600.
We love finding the hidden gems of the Kawarthas Northumberland region, and one of our favourites is the Nogies Creek waterway connecting North Kawartha to Pigeon Lake. The canvas walled hot tent is already set up not far from the banks of the river smack dab in the middle of 200 acres of wild Land Between woods, granite escarpments and wildlife. After a hike in from the vehicles, your basecamp will be established and your guides will get a fire going in the internal woodstove, then you’ll be free to explore–by snowshoe or cross-country ski–the network of trails traversing the property. Keep your eyes peeled for porcupine, whitetails and even bigger members of the deer family. When the sun begins to set and your legs begin to tire, there’s no better way to warm up than returning to a cozy shelter warmed by woodfire and lit with candle lanterns. Warm drinks and hot meals further take the edge off the winter temperatures, and pretty soon it’s time for some stargazing winter constellations before it’s off to bed.
The section from Kinmount to Lindsay takes cyclists on the Victoria Rail Trail, an enjoyable ride for all levels of cyclists. The trail is mostly hard packed gravel with a few softer sections to keep things interesting. Just north of Kinmount, there are two trestle bridges along the trail, which would have been originally used for the railroad that once existed there.
The trail continues through the forests leading to Fenelon Falls, and as the trees start to disperse, the views open up to Cameron Lake where I wasn’t surprised to see boaters out and about and families playing in the water. The Fenelon Falls beach is the perfect place to begin or finish any adventure on the rail trails, not only because it’s a great place to cool off, but also because free parking is available (and overnight parking if you so desire). Make sure you check out Sweet Bottoms Coffee, just down the street from the lock.
As I rode south towards Lindsay, more and more farmland appeared on either side of the trail, and before I knew it, I was downtown exploring the Trent Severn Waterway Lock and the historic site right beside it! A stop at Kawartha Dairy, just South West of McDonnell Park, is always worth your time.
Lindsay to Port Hope
There are rail trail options that lead right into Peterborough if you’d prefer, but my trip took me south towards Port Hope, past Devils Elbow Ski and Snowboard Area, and through the Ganaraska Forest. This was accomplished through a mix of side roads and a large portion followed the Ganaraska hiking trail as well.
My most notable stop occurred on a bit of detour down into the small town of Milbrook, just North East of the Ganaraska Forest. Stop in to the Pastry Peddler and Frog Cycles Bike Shop for a delicious meal and/or treat or to keep your bike tuned up.
This section ends at yet another fantastic beach just a few minutes from downtown Port Hope, could this get any better?
Port Hope to Brighton
The pace changes a bit from Port Hope to Brighton as I took the popular Waterfront Trail, a paved scenic route that is fantastic for road cyclists as well. If you’re looking to see Lake Ontario, get ready, because you will be seeing a lot of it for this stretch heading East.
Plan to spend a bit of time in Cobourg. It’s a beautiful little town that is full of fantastic cafes and restaurants, all within a minutes ride from the beach. Play your cards right and you’ll end up cruising through town just as Rib Fest was starting up… not a bad way to spend the afternoon!
I ended my day, and this story, in Brighton, at the Presqu’ile Craft Brewery and Dougalls on the Bay restaurant. This newly opened small-batch brewery has a fantastic local vibe and offers some delicious session beers that are definitely cyclist friendly.
Dougalls on the Bay has the perfect patio to enjoy a meal and wind down after a long day of riding. The friendly staff also offered to lock up my bike in their storage unit, which was a pleasant surprise.
Get Outside and Explore!
Although this was only part of a much larger journey on the COLT, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to enjoy the smaller sections of trails and communities that are available to us. Even if you just have an afternoon, you will be amazed at what you will see and what you can do. You can read the full version of the entire COLT journey on www.ridingfeelsgood.com.
Check out the related links below for more great information.
Miles Arbour grew up in a small town in rural Ontario, and as a young lad he quite literally feared riding bikes. Throughout his studies at Trent University for Business and Algonquin College for Outdoor Adventure Guide Training, he slowly developed a strong desire for all things bike related. Today, Miles is usually riding, writing about, and documenting bikepacking opportunities in Canada.