For the Shire family of Shannonville, Ont., ice fishing has been a tradition for generations.
“To me, being on the ice with my father gives me a deep connection to my Papa as well, who took me out in his boat every summer for one-on-one fishing time. I can see my Papa in my dad and how he keeps that tradition alive,” says Paige Shire, 21, who joins her father, Robert, 54, on his ice-fishing adventures.
Having an outdoorsman as a father, Robert would follow his dad on the ice and spend countless days together. As the passion developed, it became a tradition in their relationship.
“I enjoyed all the time I had with my father and even more so the older he got,” Robert says. “You need to cherish the time you have with people and if I can still have a small piece of something he valued in my life, I will take every chance I can to go out.”
Today, ice fishing has become one of the most valued family traditions for the Shires as they try to get out on the ice every two weekends or so, if conditions are good.
“It is very important to share this with my daughter because it’s time I get to spend with her, and I can tell her some stories from her grandfather and some stories from my past and have some good laughs,” Robert says. “I hope she takes away the sheer enjoyment of ice fishing. Nothing beats ice fishing. It is just fun for me.”
For Paige, the fishing and the time with her dad are what she says matter most.
“My favourite times are when my dad and I go back to a certain lake and we are ice fishing for crappie. Every time you drop your line down, you catch a fish,” Paige says. “I always get this little adrenalin rush when I feel a fish on my line, and I can bring it up though the ice.”
The Bay of Quinte, considered by many as a fish factory, has become well known for ice fishing. When conditions are good, hundreds of ice-fishing tents are visible from the surrounding roads. Families and friends gather on the ice with the chance to catch some walleye and bond together.
“Every chance I get to go ice fishing I take now that I am older,” Paige says. “It will be something I hope to pass to my future children and my dad’s grandchildren.”