Fly fishing

Outdoor trails: Outdoor potential at the start of 2022

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I’m sure a lot of people are looking forward to the recent snows of outdoor sports. Indeed, soon trails will open and sledging, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can also begin. But there’s a really big fly in the ointment this year.

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So far, we have only marginal quality ice on our many lakes and swamps. As a result, wholesale or takeout ice trips are risky at best. You saw in this column that lakes, like people, are individuals – and they freeze differently as well. Ice can be great on one lake, but the next one can be dangerous. A lot of times when people and their gear go through the ice it doesn’t end well, and because I care and want to help educate people, a lot of this column will be devoted to ice cream and reading. of ice.

Wind is the enemy of ice. Wind can break ice and usually at this time of year the wind causes pressure cracks, and these cracks bring warmer water from the bottom up and onto the ice. Some pressure cracks are quite large and cannot and should not be traversed. Ice near said pressure crack can be worn away much finer by warmer rising water. Sometimes you will see a ridge on the snow and / or ice due to the two ice caps rising on top of each other, when they collide under the action of the elements, wind and / or weather. snow weight. You often see such cracks or pressure ridges near narrow passages, where water currents may exist and keep the ice thinner, as well as spots of land jutting out into the frozen body of water. Even in good ice years, always keep a good distance when rounding a point. Narrow passages should be approached with caution, if at all.

Usually, knowledgeable people check for ice on lakes where snowmobile trails cross water bodies and, if these travel routes have been established, will stick closely to these trails until the weather cools down. to deposit more ice. Off-trail people who use snowmobiles should drag a piece of rope, securely attached to the machine, that is longer than the depth of the water. If a lake is 50 feet deep, a rope at least 60 feet long should be dragged. This way if your machine goes through the ice it will be easier to retrieve it because the end of the rope will hopefully not go through the hole. You can also get a floating rope. Always travel with a few machines, so if any of them have problems, help is available. These two machines should keep a distance from each other on the ice and not move too quickly until you determine the ice is safe. This way the second machine has room to stop if needed. Never stop a snowmobile when it is in slush, and once you get out of a slush covered area, stop and quickly turn the machine to its side, then run the engine to clear it. ice before you shut off the engine or continue – this is especially important in extremely cold weather.

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Once we get a blanket of snow it insulates the ice and it takes a strong cold to penetrate the snow to make the ice thicker. Often times you can see thin spots or slush on the ice while looking for a darker shade of snow. Give plenty of room to these areas.

Snowshoers and cross-country skiers are well advised to use poles designed for these sports to help with their balance, especially those new to these sports. When I was young I roamed the bush without, but now I’m older and I need these aids.

Right now, most fish are found in water 12 to 20 feet deep, with the exception, of course, of lake trout which likes deeper water. Lunkers can go to shallow water for food. We’ll talk about species-specific fish and fishing strategies as the winter progresses. Be sure to check out the fishing regulations that are already available from local fishing license vendors or by surfing the internet. There are some changes this year that especially those who fish in Lake Nipissing should be aware of. Go to to see any changes.

What do you see on your outdoor trips? Need more details or information than found in this column? Email me – I love chatting with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts reading this column!

The outdoor trails take place every two weeks. Contact John Vance at [email protected]