Ice fishing in North Muskoka is a tradition that many anglers look forward to every single winter. Whether it is whitefish in Skeleton Lake, Trout and pickerel in Lake of Bays, Lake Wasoesa or any other number of prime spots surrounding Huntsville, ice fishing in the Muskokas is as good as it gets.

The two determining factors that dictate the enjoyment level of your outing are safety and how many fish you catch. Here are 6 important tips to follow that will ensure you achieve both.

1. Stay On Top of the Ice

This seems like one of those “no really?” kind of statements, but if no one ever fell through it wouldn’t need to be mentioned. The quality of the ice is a factor, as end-of-season ice is usually of lower quality than the stuff at the beginning. You should also check and double-check the ice thickness and the general conditions every time you go out. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a length of sturdy rope with you, just in case.

2. Stay Active

It’s common to sit yourself down in a hut and stay there for the remainder of the day, but this may not be the best strategy for catching a pile of fish through the ice. Staying cozy is great, but you wouldn’t sit in the same spot all day in the summer if fishing was slow, so don’t do it in the winter, either. Take advantage of portable huts, fish finders, lightweight augers and similar tools.

3. Be Prepared

North Muskoka is not the Arctic, but it can still get pretty darn cold. Dress for the weather, and bring extra clothing, a first aid kit, extra boots, a cell phone and enough food for at least one day. As for the fishing side, try to fish much like you would in the summer time with a few different rods set up with different presentations. If more than one rod isn’t possible, at least have different lures ready to tie on.

4. Keep Up with the Latest

If you really enjoy getting out there and taking fish through the ice, keeping up with all the latest tips, techniques and technology will help your cause.  Read articles, visit websites and watch TV shows to keep updated, and then try the techniques or purchase the equipment you think may be helpful.

5. Take It Easy

It’s easy to get excited once your line is in the water and you’re waiting for that fish to hit, but if you start jigging too aggressively, you may end up with no hits at all. Try using just your wrist and move the tip of your rod up and down a few inches to attract attention. Or, slowly sway the tip of the rod from one side of the hole to the other to create the motion you need.

6. Respect Your Privilege

Always remember that fishing in Lake of Bays, Skeleton Lake, Lake Wasoesa or any North Muskoka and Huntsville-surrounding lake is a privilege, not a right. There are guidelines detailing how many fish you can keep, and the Ministry of Natural Resources are always out there looking for anglers who go over the limit. Enjoy the challenge, respect the fish, and remember that the larger ones are the breeders that will keep the population going strong for future seasons!