Ice fishing on Lake Simcoe is extremely popular, due not only to its stellar fishing, but also its close proximity to the GTA. Anglers from far and wide make the annual journey to Simcoe in search if its legendary jumbo perch, whitefish and lake trout.
Generally, the perch grounds are the first to freeze. This includes Cooks Bay and Virginia Beach, this is where the action starts at the beginning of every season. Perch on Simcoe are very prolific and average 6-7 inches in length, although if you find the right schools, 10-12 inchers can be more common with 15 inch jumbos being a real possibility. As for depth, there are always exceptions, although generally speaking, the best schools of perch are found in 10-35 feet of water. If you can find green weeds, you can usually find perch with them. Deeper water often holds better concentrations of fish that are less spooky of the noise above them, try to fish away from the crowd, it can make a tremendous difference. Perch that cruise on sand bottom are often larger fish, but can be more difficult to locate than weed-related fish. For best success, keep moving until you find a school of fish. I like to drill a couple of holes and fish for 5 minutes, if you’re not catching fish then you’re not on top of them, keep moving and you’ll find them eventually and when you do, its on!
I like to start with something heavy and simple, especially in deep water. A jigging rap or a small spoon will help you find those active fish. If those fish are around, but not biting, then I will downsize my bait and usually go to a Strike Zone Pan Slammer or a teardrop with 3-5 live maggots… both of those options can be deadly!
Lefroy – Keswick – Virginia Beach – Beaverton – Gilford – Innisfil
Rapala Vertical Jig – Live Minnows – Strike Zone Pan Slammers – Forage Minnow – 1.5 inch tube – Genz Worm – Simcoe Bug – Teardrop w/maggots
Whitefish are another sought after gamefish on Lake Simcoe. Their table fare, schooling tendencies and willingness to bite make them extremely popular. Lake Simcoe has a 2 fish limit imposed on those with a Sportfishing license and should not be mistaken with herring (cisco) which have a year round closed season on Lake Simcoe. Whities as they are often referred to, are a bottom dwelling, schooling fish that roam in packs. They feed mostly on small fish and invertebrates. They can inhabit nearly any part of the water column although the 60-90 foot depths are the best place to start looking. There’s probably not an angler on the lake that doesn’t own a Williams Ice Jig for their winter whities. Start with a spoon and rip it aggressively on the bottom 5 feet of the lake. This will trigger the aggressive fish to feed. If the whitefish do not react to the spoon, try going to a more subtle bait like a tube jig or a Bottom Feeding jig such as a Bad Boy or Meegz and tip it with a small tube or a live minnow When fishing small plastic baits, the use of a stinger hook will increase your hook up rates. Simcoe whities average 3-5 pounds with 7+ pounders being possible. You are allowed 2 lines in the winter, so the use of a tipup with live minnows on a spreader will increase the number of fish on the ice for you!
Innisfil Beach – Shanty Bay – Willow Beach – Jacksons Point – Hawkestone
Live minnows (fished on bottom) – Williams Ice Jig – Bottom Feeding Jigs (Bad Boyz, Meegz, Northam Bottom Feeding Minnow) – Small Tube Jigs
Lake Trout is one of the most fun fish to catch on Lake Simcoe through the ice. Their aggressive nature and line peeling fights make them a must for any angler fishing Lake Simcoe. Lakers will cruise any part of the water column, sometimes in schools, sometimes as loners. Although electronics help significantly in catching these fish, they are not necessary and can still be caught. Trout can be found where the bait is found, they are constantly moving in search of food. Their main source in Lake Simcoe comes from the prolific schools of smelt and herring, although perch, gobies, sculpin make up a small part of their diet. The best laker depths seem to be from 70-110 feet, although as always they can be found shallower and deeper. I generally fish within 5 feet of bottom, though with the two line limit, I will often fish a second bait 10 feet off bottom to look for the more aggressive fish. Jigging spoons, tube jigs and swimbaits like the Strike Zone Swammer are excellent options. Simcoe lakers average 3-5 pounds although 10 pounders are not uncommon and 20 pounders are a possibility.
White Shoal – Kempenfelt Bay – Jacksons Point – Fox Island
Williams Ice Jig – Strike Zone Slammer -Strike Zone Swammer – Laker Taker – Tube Jig – Vertical Jig