Unable to practice ice fishing in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, where the city no longer allows anyone on Baie Saint-François, enthusiasts of this winter activity can satisfy their desire in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region.
The season has already started on the Ottawa River on the border of the municipality of Pointe-des-Cascades and the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion, along Route 338, where a hundred fishing shacks were set-up last weekend.
“We have a good quality ice that has reached a dozen inches (30 centimeters)”, says Ronald Proulx, owner of Centre de pêche CR, which offers shack rentals and various services related to fishing. “It is believed that the ice surface will thicken up to 13 or 14 inches and the number of shacks could go up to around 250”, he adds.
On Sunday, despite the freezing cold that hovered around -20 degrees Celsius, hundreds of fishermen set their gear in the hope of catching walleye, perch or pike. Usually, the start of the season brings the best catch when the fishpond has not been disturbed.
The outdoor area amazes with its immensity and the spacing between the groups of occupants. “We expect to welcome some 5,000 fishermen”, predicts Ronald Proulx.
Contrary to the situation observed in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield where the fishing village seems doomed to disappear, climate change has had little effect on this outdoor recreation at the Pointe-des-Cascades site. “In our area, the season has been shortened by a few weeks. We can generally fish safely from January 10th to March 10th”, says the organizer.
Asked about the impacts of COVID-19 on winter fishing, the outfitter ensures that sanitary measures are respected in connection with the occupation of the shacks, limited to a family bubble. In fact, Mr. Proulx believes that the long pandemic has had its share of positive effects on the participation rate.
“Previously, it was more the boys who engaged in ice fishing. For the past two years, families have rediscovered the joys of this activity”, admits the owner of the fishing store.
The Southwest Voice met a resident of the municipality of Les Cèdres, Stéphane Tétreault, who was enjoying the sunny day with his wife and two young boys, smiling and being attentive to their fishing line. The site also attracts visitors and a fisherman from Laval showed his appreciation by handling a dozen tacks waiting to find takers.