This time of year, when the harbour freezes, the smelt shacks appear on the ice just off-shore in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
They look like tiny sheds or out-houses, driven onto the ice by brave residents, willing to take the chance on the ice with their vehicles.
The goal is to fish for smelt through the ice in the relative comfort of your shack.
The structure, as small as it is, is a great wind break, making it possible to spend more than a few minutes in the cold temperatures. The most luxurious have stoves,
making longer fishing excursions possible. At various places around the harbour, villages of these smelt shacks are usually busy over the weekend.
Last Sunday, we walked by the bay to get a closer look at the shacks. I questioned one man walking back home about one hundred meters away. He'd lit the fire and scraped the ice in front of the shack, making a hockey rink for his kids. They had their day planned.
This young man grew up in Summerside, and fished for smelt since his youth. He spears the fish, rather than use a line preferred by some. He fries, bakes or smokes them, but eats them as sushi as well.
The smelt fishery occurs late fall or through the ice in winter when the fish are at their best. When smelt are spawning, they aren't as tasty and a fishery at that time would affect the stock.
This wonderful tradition is one of the reasons I love our island home. However, you couldn't pay me enough to drive onto that ice.