Today’s post comes from year-round multispecies angler and writer, Ashley Rae, of SheLovesToFish.com.
I’ve previously only had the opportunity to explore Lake Simcoe a handful of times.
This included a couple of open water outings and an afternoon on the ice while passing through the area a few years back.
Spending more time on this incredible fishery is something that’s been on my radar for some time, and it was exciting to finally get a proper opportunity to target perch through the ice on Simcoe!
An ice angler’s dream
Lake Simcoe is widely considered to be a world-class fishery.
Each winter, it draws anglers from far and wide, making it one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in the province (and even North America)!
Yellow Perch, whitefish, Lake Trout, Northern Pike, and burbot are amongst the most popularly targeted species through the ice here.
Be sure to check out the latest Ontario Fishing Regulations before planning your trip, as well as the latest rules and regulations on using bait, as there have been significant changes introduced in 2022.
Gathering the team
I was lucky enough to join up with a good friend and local angler, Dave Chong, for this adventure.
Dave has been fishing these waters year-round for over 40 years. He spends around 75% of his winter season focusing on perch here, and divides the rest of his time targeting 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 fortunate 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 bright and early at Sibbald Point Provincial Park, located along the southern shore of Lake Simcoe.
Park staff maintain the main road and a parking lot throughout the winter season, making it a great location to access the ice.
Anglers have the option of either setting out on foot or by ATV, snowmobile, or other vehicle (when ice conditions are safe to do so). I booked my daily vehicle permit online prior to the trip to secure a parking spot in advance, as this is a popular access point.
We set out from the parking lot on foot and made our way out to a promising looking 10 to 12 foot deep flat.
Once we arrived at our chosen spot for the day, we quickly set up our pop-up and flip-over shelters.
We were all eager to climb inside our shelters and crank up our portable propane heaters, as it was a brisk -24°C first thing in the morning.
As the day progressed, the temperature gradually rose to around -12°C.
It is incredible just how crystal-clear the waters are here.
After drilling a few holes and setting up, I was able to look down and clearly see a mixture of sand, weeds, and rock on bottom — the perfect combo when targeting roaming schools of perch.
The crystal-clear waters also lend themselves extremely well to sight fishing, which is a very popular technique when targeting perch in shallow waters on Simcoe.
As a group of avid anglers, we were all equipped with fish finders which helped us to see any structure, when fish were around, and how they were reacting to our presentations.
Presentations for perch
It didn’t take long before we were all marking and catching perch on a variety of presentations such as small spoons, tiny tungsten jigs, and small rattle baits.
When targeting perch, I typically opt for a 2 presentation approach.
On one rod I’ll tie on a larger/brighter/louder bait, which I’ll use to “call” fish in from a distance.
On my second rod, I’ll opt for a finesse presentation that I can use to coax less aggressive fish into biting.
During this outing, I opted to rig up a 1/16 oz Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap in Glow as my “call” bait, and a 1/16 oz VMC Tungsten Mongo Jig in Chartreuse tipped with 3 live waxworms as my “finesse” offering.
On this particular day, the jig was the winning ticket for perch!
Eric landed one of the larger perch of the day at 12.25 inches on the same Rippin’ Rap I was running. What a stunning fish!
Each year Simcoe anglers report landing perch pushing 13, 14, and even 15 inches.
Plenty of perch were caught, with Dave landing the most fish out of our group. This was no surprise to any of us given his experience out here!
After such a wonderful day on the ice with great company and some beautiful fish, my desire to explore Lake Simcoe has only grown!
I look forward to visiting again, as I have some unfinished business left to tie up with the lake’s whitefish, Lake Trout, and burbot!