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Ice fishing season 'fantastic'; good conditions bring fishermen from all over U.S.

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Ice fishing season 'fantastic'; good conditions bring fishermen from all over U.S.


BOB BOUGHNER / thesarniaobserver.ca

February 29, 2008




It's been a bonanza year for ice fishers and outfitters at Mitchell's Bay and along the Lake St. Clair shoreline. Thick ice, cold temperatures and plenty of perch have produced one of the best ice fishing seasons in more than a decade.


"It's been a fantastic run," Jim Williams of Parkside Restaurant and Cabins in Mitchell's Bay said Tuesday. "We've seen huge turnouts of ice fishers and spectators on weekends as well as during weekdays." Williams said there have been days when parking in the tiny resort hamlet was at a premium.


Best of all, he said, the fishing has been "fantastic."


"There have been few complaints about catches," he said. "On most days, ice fishers go home with their limit of 50 perch."


Williams said his cabins have been booked solid on weekends since the beginning of January.


"We were a little concerned at the start of winter that our strong Canadian dollar might keep U.S. customers away," he said. "But word of good ice conditions and good catches spread quickly south of the border and ice fishers from Michigan, Ohio, New York and Illinois have been coming to test the waters."


Williams said a decision by Chatham-Kent council to permit the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATV's) in Mitchell's Bay has been a great boon to the ice fishing industry.


"Prior to passing a law making ATV use legal, many owners were concerned they might get charged by police," he said. "Making ATV usage in The Bay legal is the best thing that could have happened here."


Cathy Shaw of Bass Haven said she's pleased with this year's ice fishing season.


"Anything with ice is good," she said. "We'll take as much cold weather as we can get this time of year."


Shaw said ice fishing is a relatively inexpensive sport in which the entire family can get involved.


"There is no need for an expensive boat to get you out onto the lake," she said. "You can walk or take an ice taxi. All you need is a pole and some minnows."


Shaw said she's seen a large number of first-time young people getting involved in the outdoor activity.


"It's great to see young people taking an interest in the sport," she said.


Omer Benoit, a Mitchell's Bay resident and ardent ice fisher, said the permitted use of ATVs in the hamlet has been a step in the right direction.


"It's drawn a lot more people out here this winter," he said. "The turnouts, especially on weekends, have been terrific."


He said most ice fishers are going home with limits or near limit fish catches.


Bob Branquet of Bob N' Buoys restaurant, said business has been brisk this winter thanks to increased weekend traffic.


"It's been a great ice fishing season," he said. "In fact, it's been one of the best in a number of years."

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