A Guide to Ice Fishing on Lake Simcoe
With over 400,000 lakes, streams and rivers, Ontario offers anglers some of the best fishing out there. But the fun doesn’t stop when the lakes freeze over. For years Lake Simcoe’s surface has transformed into a bustling community of ice fishing enthusiasts throughout the winter months. Lake Simcoe is filled with a wide variety of fish. Cold water species like lake trout and whitefish inhabit the lake’s deeper sections and smallmouth bass and perch in the mid-depth areas. The larger size of these mid-depth fish is what Lake Simcoe is famous for. But don’t forget about the shallower waters that are home to largemouth bass, northern pike and several types of panfish.
If you’re thinking about ice fishing on Lake Simcoe, you’ll be in good company. Lake Simcoe has long been heralded as the ice fishing capital of North America, and for good reason. More people ice fish on Lake Simcoe than anywhere else on the continent. Lake Simcoe is Ontario’s fourth-largest lake, with an area of roughly 722 square km. Most people favour fishing in ice huts, which is why you can see upwards of 4,000 small huts dotting the lake during the winter.
So what do you need to get started on your ice fishing adventure? To start, you’ll need a fishing licence, obtainable online. If you’re planning on fishing for more than just one day, you’ll also need an Outdoors Card. If you choose to stay in a fishing hut, there are plenty of companies to choose from that rent them out. The huts are cozy and offer a propane stove to heat and cook on, transportation to and from the hut and outhouse facilities. They will also have carved out holes in the ice for you to fish from, so you won’t need any specialized tools. Most rental companies also offer heated log cabins along the shoreline, live bait and tackle, rods and padded benches for fishing. Some will even sell you fishing licences.
If staying in an ice hut isn’t for you, there are plenty of other accommodation options. Lake Simcoe has plenty of lakeside cottages, inns and cabins that make for a more luxurious stay.
Ice fishing may sound like a quiet, leisurely activity, but it can be quite exciting and interactive. Lake Simcoe hosts various ice fishing competitions, including the famous Lake Simcoe Championship Ice Fishing Derby, with the first-place prize of $10,000! They also host a lottery where you can enter to win hundreds of prizes.
Simcoe County has Even More to Offer
Ice fishing is just the start of the fun in the Lake Simcoe region. Winter is also the perfect time to check out the world-class snow facilities for thrill-seekers, with downhill and cross-country skiing at Blue Mountain, Snow Valley, Mount St. Louis and many more.
Did you know that Simcoe County was once a hotbed for bootleggers during Prohibition? Nowadays, area locals are leaning into the region’s history and operating renowned alcohol-producing facilities. Wineries, distilleries, craft breweries, and cideries abound and focus on using local produce like grapes, potatoes and apples.
The Peter Street Arts District in Simcoe County is a growing cultural and creative hub for artists and artisans alike. Visit the Orillia Museum of Art and History to learn more about the region’s art and history.
If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors, visit Wye Marsh Nature Centre, one of Canada’s premiere eco-parks that is open year-round and aims to educate visitors on the importance of preserving wetland environments. In the winter months, try your hand at cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or even tracking the local wildlife.
When you’re finally ready to warm up inside, venture over to one of Simcoe’s heritage museums. The Simcoe County Museum, the Huronia Museum and the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum celebrate the region’s history and the importance of Indigenous heritage and culture.
Note: Destination Ontario supports catch and release fishing.