Ice Fishing FAQ

We frequently receive email from people asking questions about ice fishing. The questions might seem obvious to a person who is a regular on the ice but not so to a person who have never experienced the fun of ice fishing. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions here. If you have other questions, please send us an email. Click a question to see the answer, click again to close.

Q: Can I eat the fish I caught?

A: Sure you can! The best eating fish anywhere are walleye which have a sweet and tasty white flesh. Other good eating fish are perch and crappie which are abundant around Petrie Island. That said, most ice fishermen at Petrie Island are sport fishermen and put all fish caught back in the water.

Q: How do you make the fishing holes in the ice?

A: Most people use an ice auger which is kind of like a giant gas powered drill with a huge drill bit. Manual ice augers are also used by some but very difficult to use. No need to buy an auger if you are not a regular ice fisherman. The guys at the baitshop drill holes for visitors for the cost of $5.00 for two.

Q: How thick should the ice be before going out on it to ice fish?

A: Ice needs to be 10 centimetres thick to walk on and 15 centimetres to hold a snowmobile or 4 wheeler...and at least 25 to 30 centimetres thick to hold a vehicle.

Q: How thick does the ice get during winter?

A: At the peak of ice fishing season the ice can get up to 70 centimetres thick in Baitshop Bay! The ice thickness depends on the weather and how cold it gets. The minimum ice thickness we have seen in a season was about 60 centimetres.

Q: I see lots of cars and trucks on the ice. Is it really that safe?

A: Yes and No. There is always danger but it is generally safe to drive on the ice during the ice fishing season. If you are visiting Petrie Island and want to drive your car on the ice, make sure you stay in ice fishing community where you see other vehicles. If you go out beyond the ice fishing community there will be danger. The ice in Baitshop Bay is generally stable because we are in a secluded bay. Beyond that the ice thickness varies drastically due to currents in the Ottawa River. If you don't feel comfortable about driving your car or truck on the ice, park in the baitshop parking lot and walk out.

Q: Have any vehicles ever gone through the ice?

A: We have seen a few vehicles go through the ice when people go out of the ice fishing village or leave the established ice road of Baitshop Bay. Our ice fishing village has established ice roads and is safe. We have never seen a car go through the ice in the ice fishing village during the ice fishing season. Beyond the ice fishing village is a different story where the ice road is not established and the ice thickness varies drastically.

Q: Why does your website only show ice thickness for Baitshop Bay?

A: Several years ago we had looked into giving ice conditions for the entire area around the Petrie Islands but were hindered by the lack of volunteers and we could not post accurate data. With that, we decided to limit ice condition reporting to the area where most of the ice huts are located.

Q: I am visiting Petrie soon. Can I bring my dog?

A: Yes you can but keep him on a leash or close to you.

Q: How can I rent an ice fishing hut for the day?

A: Very easy. The Oziles Marina and Baitshop at Petrie Island has up to 8 heated ice huts to rent. They are available for daily or week-end rentals. Book early because they go fast! Contact the Oziles Baitshop at 613-841-0778.

Q: Can I still go fishing if I don't want to rent an ice hut?

A: Oh yes! The Petrie Islands have some of the best ice fishing in the area. Baitshop Bay has the ice fishing community with all the huts, but there are many other places where you can go ice fishing. Stop in at the baitshop for the latest updates and information. Dress warm and if you are fishing in an area away from the crowds, remember to bring safety equipment including ropes.

Q: Do I need a fishing permit in winter?

A: Yes. Everyone fishing in Ontario must have a valid fishing permit and an Outdoors Card. An Outdoors Card is a plastic, wallet-sized, identification card to which your Ontario fishing license tag is affixed. It acts as a durable carrier for your license tag for three calendar years. Most Canadian residents need an Ontario-issued Outdoors Card and fishing license tag to fish in Ontario if they are at least 18 years old but have not reached their 65th birthday. Remember to carry it with you at all times when you are on the ice because game wardens make regular visits to Petrie Island.

Q: Can I buy a fishing permit and equipment in the baitshop?

A: The Oziles Tackle shop rents and sells all kinds of ice fishing tackle and equipment. Unfortunately, the tackle does not sell outdoors cards and fishing permits. They can be purchased at most outdoors stores like SAIL and Cabela's.

Q: Who's this guy Big Al that everyone keeps referring to?

A: Big Al is the president of The Petrie Island Ice Fishermen's Association. He is a larger than life character on the ice who everyone loves. Stop by his ice hut to chat or to share a beer. His hut is centrally located in the ice hut village. It's beige with green trim, and oh yes, his name is on the door.

Q: How much does it cost to join PIIFA?

A: There is no cost to join the Petrie Island Ice Fishermen's Association. We are a group of dedicated people working together to make our ice fishing experience the best possible. Many volunteers organize events on the ice; help fellow ice fishermen and visitors; participate in the neighbourhood watch; and above all... have a good time together.