When my friend Katie invited me up to the Sault to film for her business Bodyvive Integrated Therapies (she is an amazing Osteopath) I said “OF COURSE!” Then I found out that Katie had never been ice fishing, so I made sure to add some extra time to the trip take change that. Splake are a fish that have eluded me for a long time so the one thing I did not expect to be doing was splake fishing in Sault Saint Marie this winter.
Fishing in Sault Saint Marie has always been high on my bucket list. I remember watching TV shows as a kid where anglers where catching trout and salmon at St. Mary’s Rapids and thinking “I want to do that but it is so far away!” I was 10, back then an hours drive was felt like an eternity. But time has passed…lots of time…and travel is a lot easier these days.
Figuring Out How To Fish in Sault Saint Marie
That is when it hit me, I have never fished in the Sault before and now I am taking a rookie out! I wanted to show Katie why I love ice fishing, I wanted to make sure it was a good. But, I didn’t even know what lakes I could access in the winter by foot. So I asked for help on social media, and my friends reminded me why they are the best! Thanks to Big Jim McLaughlin and Jack Summers I connected with a few anglers from the Sault who gave me a good starting point.
With a storm looming, I decided to make the drive up a day earlier than planned and I would spend my extra day scouting. The drive through Muskoka, Sudbury and Algoma was awesome as usual. The roads where clear and the trees where covered in snow, the scenery was magical. The first morning was a different story though. I was greeted with a very northern welcome, a negative twenty eight Celsius to start the day. So I bundled up, got a warm coffee and headed out…only to go back to the house when I realized I forgot my fishing rods. That was about the time I figured out the heat in my car was not working! Great timing as usual. I opened up some hand warmers and headed out anyway.
Getting on the Ice
I spent an afternoon driving around to see what lakes I could get into. One lake looked so good I just had to punch a whole and try out the ice fishing. It did not take long to catch my fist splake ever! It came in and crushed an Anglers Choice AC30 on a Nishine Lure Works Smelt Head. I stayed and fished for an hour catching a couple more then decided I should leave the spot for the next day with Katie. The one thing I could not get over while driving around Sault Saint Marie was how magnificent the scenery was. Driving through mountains and valleys isn’t new to me but something about this area was just spectacular.
Splake Fishing in Sault Saint Marie is FUN
Saturday morning was the day Katie was coming ice fishing for the first time. We woke up to much better weather, ate breakfast and made our way to the lake. On the way we made a stop that I rarely make, we stopped for live bait! I wanted to make sure that Katie caught fish and since we are allowed to use two rods each, I set up a rod with a shiner on it to increase our odds. We got to the lake, set up the pop-up hut in six feet of water, and started fishing. It didn’t take long to catch a splake either…I set up Katie with a Buckshot spoon with a salted minnow head and while I was setting up the set line Katie hooked up! I just remember hearing “Ummm Dan, I think I have one…yeah I have one!” Just like that Katie had caught her first fish through the ice!
We where on fish all afternoon, Katie landed one big splake on a live minnow and I got a bunch on the AC30 and Smelted Jig. I have never eaten splake before so we kept a few for the table We wanted to get a good idea of how the fish tasted so we prepared with salt, pepper, butter, and lime juice. It was delicious! Splake has definitely climbed up my list of favourite fish to target! These guys where aggressive, ate lures as well as they ate live bait, they have stunning looks and delicious taste! Splake are sterile fish stocked in put and take fisheries so keeping them is kind of the point, it doesn’t hurt the fishery.
Fishing the Sault Again?
I didn’t get to fish the St. Mary’s Rapids this trip, but that was not really part of the plan anyway. I have plans to film for Katie again in the spring and that will be my shot at St. Mary’s Rapids. But for now, I will just keep reliving my couple afternoons in the mountains splake fishing in Sault Saint Marie, one of the prettiest fish on the planet!