Today’s post comes from year-round multi-species angler and writer Ashley Rae of SheLovesToFish.com.
I’ve only had the opportunity to explore Lake Simcoe a few times previously.
This included a couple of open water outings and an afternoon on the ice while passing through the area a few years ago.
Spending more time in this incredible fishery is something that has been on my radar for some time, and it was exciting to finally have a proper opportunity to fish for perch through the ice in Simcoe!
An ice fisherman’s dream
Lake Simcoe is widely considered a world-class fishery.
Every winter, it attracts anglers from all over, making it one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in the province (and even North America).
Yellow perch, whitefish, lake trout, pike and burbot are among the most popular species across the ice.
Be sure to check the latest Ontario fishing regulations before planning your trip, as well as the latest rules and regulations regarding the use of bait, as major changes are introduced in 2022.
Assembling the team
I was lucky enough to join a good friend and local fisherman, Dave Chong, for this adventure.
Dave has been fishing these waters year-round for over 40 years. Here he spends about 75% of his winter season focusing on perch and divides the rest of his time on whitefish, lake trout and burbot.
I couldn’t think of a better person to meet up with for a day on the ice.
I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by my partner Eric and our friends Pam and Adam. Dave’s friend Lyle also joined us for a few hours in the afternoon.
braving the cold
We began our adventure early in Sibbald Point Provincial Park, located along the southern shore of Lake Simcoe.
Park staff maintain the main road and a parking lot during the winter season, making it a great place to access the ice.
Anglers have the option of heading out on foot or by ATV, snowmobile or other vehicle (when ice conditions are safe to do so). I reserved my daily vehicle permit online before the trip to secure a parking spot in advance, as this is a popular hotspot.
We left the parking lot on foot and headed to a promising 10- to 12-foot-deep flat.
Once we arrived at our chosen location for the day, we quickly set up our pop-up and collapsible shelters.
We were all eager to get into our shelters and turn on our portable propane heaters as it was -24°C early in the morning.
As the day progressed, the temperature gradually rose to reach -12°C.
It’s amazing how crystal clear the waters are here.
After drilling a few holes and setting it up, I was able to look down and clearly see a mix of sand, weeds and rock on the bottom – the perfect combination for targeting schools of roaming perch.
The clear waters also lend themselves very well to sight fishing, which is a very popular technique for fishing for perch in shallow water in Simcoe.
As a group of avid anglers, we were all equipped with fish finders that helped us see any structure, when fish were nearby, and how they reacted to our presentations.
Presentations for perch
It wasn’t long before we were all marking and catching perch on a variety of presentations including small spoons, small tungsten jigs and small rattle baits.
When I head to the hanger, I usually opt for a 2-show approach.
On one rod I will tie a bigger, brighter, louder bait, which I will use to “call” the fish from a distance.
On my second rod, I’ll opt for a delicate presentation that I can use to convince less aggressive fish to bite.
During this outing, I opted to rig a 1/16oz Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap in Glow as my “call” bait and a 1/16oz VMC Tungsten Mongo Jig in Chartreuse tipped with 3 live wax worms as my “delicacy”. “offer.
On this particular day, the jig was the winning ticket for perch!
Eric landed one of the biggest perches of the day, 12.25 inches, on the same Rippin’ Rap he was running. What an impressive fish!
Each year, Simcoe anglers report landing perch pushing 13, 14 and even 15 inches.
Many perch were caught and Dave caught the most fish in our group. This wasn’t a surprise to any of us given your experience here!
After such a wonderful day on the ice with great company and some beautiful fish, my desire to explore Lake Simcoe has only increased!
I hope to visit again as I have some unfinished business to resolve with lake whitefish, lake trout and burbot!