An entire "village' comes to life each winter in the east end of Ottawa, for those looking to catch that big one.

Ice fishing is a popular activity; and, a Bay at Petrie Island along the Ottawa River is home to approximately 120 'Ice Huts,' according to Allan Macintyre, president of the Petrie Island Ice Fishermen’s Association

"It’s the largest one in eastern Ontario," he says. "It is like a little village down here, everybody knows everybody."

Macintyre has been fishing there since the early 1980s.

"It’s exciting to watch a fish, to catch a big fish," he tells CTV News Ottawa. "It’s just a very relaxing thing; you’re out with nature, you’re out in the outdoors."

The village is complete with roads; the ice fishing huts help those taking part to stay warm and comfortable while waiting for that big catch, and it’s all on the ice.

"You’ve got about five feet of water underneath the ice, and about a solid 21 inches of solid underneath you," Macintyre says. "Before we come out here, on the ice; and, put huts we’re drilling every day to know the ice thickness - nothing comes out onto the ice before we have 12 inches."

Macintyre says that while weekends are a popular draw for families, "it’s extremely family-friendly" during the week.

"We get to sit down with people, I call this a sanctuary," says Guy Boisjoli while sitting next to a wood stove in his ice hut. "Conversations that you might not be able to have at McDonalds or at home, flow easier - right here in the fish camp."

Of course, there is fishing too.

"Fishing has been not too bad, in this area," says fisherman Len Bourdeu. "In this bay, we catch mostly pike, perch; and, if you go down further to the end, you will catch walleye."

Petrie Island Ice Fisherman's Association

Ice Hut Rentals

If you wanted to try ice fishing in the bay, you can access the ice by paying $5 at the marina for a day pass; or, if you want to go all-out, you can rent an ice hut.   A full day costs $145 for a complete package, which includes minnows; or, $85 for a half day.

"This winter, I am full until the end of the season during the weekend, during week I have lots of space right now," says France Couture with Oziles Marina.

Remember to bring your fishing license; if you forget anything else, the Bait and Tackle Shop on-site has you covered.

14th annual PIIFA Ice Fishing Derby

The 2022 Petrie Island Ice Fisherman’s Association Derby is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 19.   Macintyre says that the invitational event benefits CHEO.