Winter has finally arrived in the Ottawa area and now it's just a matter of time before we can get on the ice. With still a few weeks to go before we get the ice we need, it will be a very short ice fishing season. With that, we will have to make the best of the time we will have.
To get things going, we are announcing that the fifth annual PIIFA Ice Fishing derby will take place on Saturday, February 13, 2016 in Baitshop Bay at Petrie Island. The derby coincides with the winter version of Ontario's Family Fishing Week-end. This is a great time to fish in Ontario without having to buy a fishing permit.
Our derby has proven to be popular in past years with tons of fun and prizes. Again this year, all profits raised in the derby will be given to CHEO at their annual spring telethon. Derby plans are still in the works and we will announce details and sponsors as they become available.
With all derbies organized on the ice at Petrie Island, Big Al is collecting Canadian Tire money to give as one of our many door prizes. Stop by his hut and give him what you got!
With every PIIFA derby, we like to be creative and have a little fun when designing our poster and this year's is no different. If you are close to action on Baitshop Bay and know some of the people, take a good look at this year's derby poster... just for a laugh.>>> A look back at past PIIFA Derby posters
This time last year, the first of the ice fishermen were getting ready to haul their huts on the ice. It was unimaginably cold and there was already 10 inches of ice in Petrie Island's Baitshop Bay. It was an ice fishing season to remember that lasted almost three months.
Jump ahead to 2015 and there is no sign of ice in Baitshop Bay and it could be a while before we see any ice. Ice fishermen are sitting in their huts in the hut storage area hoping, waiting and wondering if there will be any ice fishing this year. There is even a pool going around for when the first huts goes on the ice.
We did see a brief time several weeks ago when the bay iced over for a day or two but it quickly melted when the temperature jumped back up to double digits.
Late ice formation is not uncommon in our area. In 2007, the bay only began to freeze over on Christmas day and the start of ice fishing season was delayed until January 26. It was the shortest season we had seen since 1998.
Will it happen again this season? It kind of looks like it as meteorologists are calling for the shortest winter in years due to a strong El Nino. If and when ice finally begins for form in Baitshop Bay, it still takes a good month of really cold weather to make good ice. For the time being, take in some of the great shore fishing at Petrie Island like some people have been doing and hope that El Nino heads south.
Google Street View, the feature on Google Maps that shows high-resolution street-level images on the internet, is now at Petrie Island.
Limited to the west end of Baitshop Bay, you can go for a walk on the ice and see the blurred faces of some of our most famous ice fishermen.
It all begins near the bait shop where summer turns to winter as soon as you go through the entrance gates of Oziles.
Head down the road to the ramp and on to the ice road. Continue to where you see all the fishermen and see if you recognize anyone. Even more impressive about this Street View is you can actually walk in to several ice shacks near the fishermen.