EASTERN ONTARIO — South Nation Conservation (SNC) is reminding residents that although winter is fully upon us, you should remain cautious when venturing out onto the ice. The Conservation Authority notes that ice formation on the South Nation River has been sporadic with spots not yet thick enough for use.
Ice thickness is not usually uniform and can vary depending on outside temperatures, water current and flows, and snow cover. SNC recommends that ice should be at least 15 to 20 cm thick for skating, walking, or pond hockey, and even thicker for snowmobiles.
The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength: clear blue ice is the strongest; ice that is cloudy white or grey in colour can be unsafe.
Before going out, be sure to check conditions with local authorities, or with ice hut operators and other anglers if you plan on ice fishing.
SNC recommends being prepared for a worst-case scenario by letting others know where you are going, when you plan on returning, wearing appropriate clothing, and bringing the proper safety equipment including a life jacket, cell phone, ice pick and throw rope.
Parents are encouraged to explain the dangers of ice to their children: they should never go onto ice alone or follow friends or pets onto potentially dangerous ice, no matter how safe, fun, or frozen the ice may seem.
And when the ice is safe to use, SNC encourages local anglers to take advantage of some of the great ice fishing offered along the South Nation River, which houses as many as 72 species of fish. However, please refrain from dumping your bait bucket into the river as it could have potentially harmful effects to the local ecosystem by introducing invasive species. And when the fun is done, please clean up to avoid litter being left on the ice.
A provincial fishing licence and hut registration is required to ice fish along the South Nation River. Fishing licences and hut registrations are issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. More info can be found here: www.ontario.ca/page/ice-fishing. This year, Canadian residents can fish in Ontario without buying a licence, including along the South Nation River, from February 13th to 15th, 2021.