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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Island moment

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.

30 comments:

  1. I agree with you about driving out there. I don't now if I have ever tasted smelt. :-)

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  2. Did you ever see that crazy skit by Rick Mercer, where he visits various ice fishing shacks and discovers that, like the TARDIS, they're bigger inside than outside? And inside, they're palatially luxurious with fireplaces, furs and crystal chandeliers? Hilarious and classic!

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    1. I know the skit you mean. Hilarious is right, Debra! A Canadian original!

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  3. Looks really nice, those little shacks. Warm greetings!

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Blogoratti. Good to see you.

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  4. They do ice fishing around here. Not sure if there's any this winter with all of the mild weather.

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    1. It may be risky there. We had rain today, but the shacks are still in place, AC.

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  5. This is neat to see. Yes, no way would I drive on the ice! I bet the car's insurance company would not like that either! Andrea

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    1. I didn't even think about the insurance, Andrea. The inner part of the harbour here should be safe because it is so shallow. Still I wouldn't drive on it though.

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  6. I hope this tradition lasts forever. It seem lovely and nostalgic. I would like to spend a day with someone in one of these...well, maybe a few hours, not sure if I could make it the whole day!

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    1. I'd need a shack with a fire. The wind is such a damp cold, Tabor.

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  7. We have a lot of ice fishing around here too. I enjoy seeing what they do, but like you, I wouldn't want to take my chances out there on the ice! How fun to see the makeshift hockey rink out there, lol!

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  8. I see those fishing shacks and think of the film, Grumpy Old Men. Beaustiful here. Warmer days are on the way.

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    1. Lol. Forgot that, SS. It's a while before it's warm here. Lucky you!

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  9. Recreation now, but no doubt in the relatively recent past, it was a survival tool. Love that the tradition is retained.

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    1. I do too, EC. And you are so right about the importance of smelts to the previous generations.

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  10. Is that salt water?
    I have only been on a frozen lake once and I was terrified all the time even though I was assured it was safe, so I'd never go out on the frozen sea.

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    1. It is indeed salt water. I cannot imagine driving on it though I would walk there if it was -30. Lol.

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  11. This brings back so many memories I have over the years at our family cottage in Michigan on Horseshoe Lake, Marie. For so many years we were used to ice shanties on the lake for the fishermen. I honestly don't know when they were last able to do it, however. Not sure I'd brave driving a vehicle out there but I guess they have it down to a science!

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    1. The people who have the smelt shacks are confident in their ability to read the weather and stay safe.

      You have some wonderful memories, Ginnie.

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  12. That is very interesting. I learned something new. My husband has been preparing to go ice fishing but he has not done yet and of course I have no idea what type of fish he would get it here in North Dakota. I do think of it as dangerous. It scares me a bit. Thanks for sharing this info and great photos.

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    1. Good luck to your husband, Angela. Hope he has a successful, safe and enjoyable fishing trip.

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  13. That is amazing and it must be so much warmer fishing in the shack! Like you I wouldn't fancy being in a car on the ice! Sarah x

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    1. Nor I, Sarah. The shacks make it enjoyable for sure.

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  14. Looks like fun for someone else but I'd be darn cold. No on me driving either.

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  15. Many people here really enjoy this fishing, HW. I like to watch from the shore.

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    1. Here too. I did when I was a kid but it's been forever since I went.

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    2. I've never ice fished but I don't like fishing of any kind, HW.

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