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A day on the ice with a Summerside fisherman

Joe LeBlanc has an ideal setup for ice fishing in his handmade shack on the Summerside waterfront.
Joe LeBlanc has an ideal setup for ice fishing in his handmade shack on the Summerside waterfront.

When most people hear the words “ice fishing” they conjure up images of perching on the frozen harbour slowly turning into a Popsicle while painfully suspending dangling bait into a small hole in the ice, trying to catch a less than average size fish.

While a portion of this may be true, smelts caught on Summerside’s waterfront grow to an average of five to 10 centimeters.

One fisherman Sunday morning had an ideal setup that virtually eliminated any brisk winds or cold.

Inside Joe LeBlanc’s ice fishing shack.

Inside Joe LeBlanc’s handmade shack sits a table and two chairs. On one side, spears and cleaning utensils are hooked on the wall. A propane heater, along with an outside vent, warms the space and in the corner there’s a hole about 14 inches deep, for fishing.

“Usually I don’t ice fish for long, I come down here for an hour or so and try to get the incoming tide,” said Leblanc, while breaking the hard layer of ice that formed over the hole during the night. “I then just relax and fish away.”

Leblanc, bundled up in warm appropriate clothing said, “I catch a couple of smelt, but this is not one of the better places for them.”

It takes a lot of practice and patience to ice fish. Spears are used to catch the fish, and steps are taken to humanely handle them once caught.

 

Summerside's ice fishing season is underway.

Leblanc said, “This area was never really good for catching smelt, but it’s nice and close to the coffee shop.”

Smelt caught by LeBlanc will be used for personal consumption.

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