BELLEVILLE – Local ice-fishing outfit Quinte Hut Rentals  is staying a afloat despite the mild winter.
“We look for no less than seven inches of good ice before giving the go-ahead” to ice fishers, said company owner Peter Jones. “Some would call that overkill; to me it’s safety factors first and catching the customers’ fish second.”
When the ice-fishing season began last month, there was about a foot of ice in the Bay of Quinte, he said, “but by the end of the mild spell we had lost about half. We had to move our huts to shore for about a week while we waited for colder weather.”
Jones has been ice fishing for 38 years. His company, which rents huts and maintains ice conditions, is one of two still operating on the Bay of Quinte. The other is Fish Finder Charters .
“The ice-hut operations are much fewer around this area these days,” he said. “At one time years ago there were at least two dozen different outfits operating within this general vicinity.”
However, despite the changing times, the ice -ishing community remains strong, he said, adding that he customers from both the local area and outside the country.
“Between this area of Belleville and the surrounding areas of Trenton, Napanee and Cobourg there (are) a lot of ice-fishers and fish enthusiasts out, as well as visitors from (the Toronto area), Hamilton, Ottawa and Quebec. We actually have customers coming this week all the way from Ohio who have never gone ice fishing before.”
Asked about the future of ice fishing, Jones said he thinks the sport will never disappear and will generally remain a local, small-scale business.
“There are no large-scale ice fishing outfits – they’re all small local businesses like myself … I don’t think the actual sport is fading away, but I don’t believe big business will ever dip their lures in.”