Kirkland Lake Promises Ideal Sledding & Ice Fishing Opportunities

By Renee Willmott November 21, 2017

Renee moved to Northeastern Ontario from Australia six years ago, after extensive travel. Renee is a nature enthusiast who enjoys water sports, photography, and wildcrafting.


Two snowmobiles, a four-seater sleigh, three adults, three kids, and two dogs loaded up and ready to go–it’s ice fishing time! Kirkland Lake is surrounded by superb ice fishing lakes, and the hardest task is deciding which one to fish.

We travel north on the scenic Highway 672 and find a pullout to park at and unload our gear. The trail is ungroomed and a foot of snow has fallen since we were here last. The untouched scenery gets me every time. This is the same view the gold prospectors saw over 100 years ago, and the indigenous peoples centuries before that. I also know this scene is happening simultaneously at lakes around the district–fishing fanatics sled in to what may as well be their own private lake.

There’s no shortage of snow in Kirkland Lake – snowmobiler’s heaven. Photo: Renee Willmott

Setting Up Shop

The ride is stunning. The snow-laden boreal forest melts into a swampy marsh with tag alder everywhere. The trail narrows before coming to a rickety bridge at the bottom of a valley. We cross gingerly, and wind our way on to an even narrower trail through the enveloping pine trees, ducking to miss the branches. I take off my warm mitt to capture the scenery on my camera, not lasting long in the -15°C air.

We get to the lake and burn across it, hitting some slush as the kids hoot and holler with glee. We arrive at our destination, carefully chosen for water depth, wind protection, and a shoreline conducive to a campfire.

A modified hockey stick and flag – a.k.a. a tip-up – marks the spot. Photo: Renee Willmott.

We work as a well-oiled machine. The sleigh is unpacked and the ice auger cranks up. I’m off in the bush searching for birch bark to the start the fire. The kids pretend to collect kindling while they goof around exploring sites for a fort. Firewood is cut and the fire is patiently coaxed into existence. The holes have been claimed by the staking of our fishing poles made from repurposed hockey sticks. The rig hits the water as the minnow wriggles on the end of the line.

A Typical Day on the Ice 

Now it’s time to relax. The fire is crackling and the thermos comes out offering piping hot tea. The kids have carefully whittled tag alder branches for the expectant marshmallows. We hang out, chatting about all the usual subjects until someone yells, “Line!”

The claimant ditches the conversation to lurch to the line and set the hook, silently praying for a pickerel. He jigs, he scores!! Hand over fist the line is pulled up with a nice-sized, vibrant gold pickerel on the end. There are smiles all round–it’s going to be a good day.

The sun breaks through the clouds and I saunter off as best as one can on snowshoes to explore the landscape by camera. I am still spellbound by the ice formations through a macro lens. How does nature create something so perfect? My little world is punctuated by the kids revving past on snowmobiles. They’ve found a big slushy spot and circle back through it again and again. I know under the helmets they’re grinning from ear to ear.

Ahh, life in the north. Hubby and father-in-law are contently fishing, I’m happy in my creative photography world, and the kids are having a ball switching from exploring the bush to occasionally checking a line between mouthfuls by the fire.

“Line!” Whoa, that bite looks like a big pike. Yep, it’s on, but will it fit through the hole? Every fisherpersons dream dilemma and a good problem to have. Up comes a nice six pound pike, and now it’s the adults grinning ear to ear. Smoked pike is quite the delicacy.

Ice Pike. Photo: Renee Willmott.

The air gets a crisp edge as the sun idles its way down to the horizon. Time to pack up. The well-oiled machine returns as we load up in no time, the lines staying in the water until the very last minute. We survey the lake one more time, grateful that we have experienced our own piece of paradise. But we know that this isn’t a special lake–it’s just one of the thousands dotting the area, and that there’s enough for everyone. We sled off into the setting sun, saying farewell to another beautiful day in the Big North – Kirkland Lake, Northeastern Ontario.

More Information

Snowmobile Rental

Speedy Snowmobile Rentals – 16 Kirkland Street East, Kirkland Lake – (705) 568-8564

Accommodations

Microtel Inn & Suites –350 Government Rd W, Kirkland Lake – (705) 462-2401
Comfort Inn – 455 Government Rd W, Chaput Hughes – (705) 567-4909
Super 8  – 50 Government Rd E, Kirkland Lake – (705) 567-3241

Restaurants

Mama’s – 5 Duncan Ave S, Kirkland Lake – (705) 568-6262
The Dish Cafe – 77 Government Rd West Unit 2, Kirkland Lake – (705) 462-3200
The Vault – 29 Godfrey St, Larder Lake – (705) 643-2229
The Lakehouse – 501, Resort Rd, Timiskaming – (705) 642-3050
Viennas Bar And Grill – 5 Government Rd W, Kirkland Lake – (705) 567-5959

General Things to Do & Tourism Information

Discover Kirkland Lake – 3 Kirkland St., Kirkland Lake – 1-800-249-8933
Kirkland Lake Winter Carnival – February 15 to March 4, 2018

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