Anne and Keith Weir wanted to add some excitement to their winter recreation activities so they decided to take a stab at ice fishing.
Keith and Anne Weir try their luck ice fishing at a shack on the John River in Pictou County.
Malagash - Anne and Keith Weir wanted to add some excitement to their winter recreation activities so they decided to take a stab at ice fishing.
Armed with spears, a hand axe, a bucket and a heater the Malagash couple borrowed a friends smelt shack on the frozen John River to catch some of the small silver fish.
Its something different to do in the winter, said Anne.
This is our first season. Were not very good at it yet. Weve been here an hour and weve only caught three.
Sitting in a comfortably warm four foot wide by six foot long shack, on a Styrofoam lined wooden bench, in front an open hole in the ice, they wait with spears in hand for a smelt to swim beneath their feet looking for an easy meal.
The pair say the activity is not about how many they can catch but they enjoy fishing bass, trout and mackerel in the summer and just wanted to have some fun trying something new.
For some out here I think its more of a get-together than about going fishing, said Keith.
Although about a dozen ice fishing shacks have been set up on the river, catches have been very low.
Commercial fisherman Leonard Bigney has been using a bag net to collect his catches and has only brought home about three dozen smelts this week.
They are scarce, some scarce, said Bigney.
He remembers a time when there were about 28 nets cast on the river every six hours with the changing tides and each person hauled in between 500 and 800 pounds every time.
We dont get anything like that around here now, said Bigney.
Its like this part of the ocean died.
He said even though catches are so poor, smelt fishing is like an addiction.
You dont do it for the money, he said. Its worse than smoking you cant quit once youve fished so long its too hard to give it up.
One pound of smelts, about a dozen of them, sell for $1.65.