Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to explore the fishing opportunities found throughout Ontario’s Southwest region. After these memorable trips, it was exciting to get back to the region for a recent ice fishing adventure on Rondeau Bay, on Lake Erie. This would be my first time ice fishing here. We lucked out with an amazing warm winter day, wonderful company, and of course, some great catches, too! I partnered with Ontario’s Southwest and Chatham-Kent Tourism for this adventure.

Please note: It is recommended to plan ahead before traveling by connecting with local operators and businesses to determine any new public health measures and procedures put in place.

Rondeau Bay

Rondeau Bay is a sheltered, shallow body of water located on the north shore of Lake Erie. Rondeau Provincial Park encompasses the southeastern shores and the village of Erieau is situated on the southwest corner. Rondeau Bay is over 3,300 hectares in size and is home to a wide variety of fish species including: northern pike, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed and more. It is also a popular largemouth bass fishery during the open water season, however, bass season is closed during the wintertime. Be sure to check the latest fishing regulations prior to planning a trip here.

A Day on the Ice With the Fishing Finatics

When planning out this Rondeau Bay adventure, I touched base with a couple of friends who frequent this fishery – in fact it’s one of their favourite fishing destinations. Alicia and TJ Raytrowsky of the Fishing Finatics are a wonderful husband-and-wife fishing team. They are such kind people who are incredibly passionate about multi-species fishing and do so year-round. We originally met at fishing trade shows and have chatted a lot over the years but hadn’t yet had a chance to fish together. I was very excited to finally spend some time on the water with these two! Alicia and TJ were kind enough to link up with Eric and I for the day to show us around Rondeau Bay. We launched out of the parking lot beside Rondeau Joe’s Pub & Eatery. Other popular launch sites for ice fishing on Rondeau Bay include Shewsbury Boat Ramp and at Rondeau Bay Provincial Park.

Alicia and TJ Raytrowsky of the Fishing Finatics. TJ landed a beautiful yellow perch.

Panfish and Pike Fishing

It didn’t take long before we were all bringing fish topside! We set up and spread out over a large shallow flat in around 6-7 feet of water and drilled a number of holes so we could hop around throughout in search of panfish and pike. Using our ice fishing sonars, we were able to see any structure below and also if any fish were nearby. When I wasn’t marking fish on my Garmin Livescope, I’d move on to another hole and hop around until I found some action.

As the day progressed we found plenty of action at around the same depths, however, we were seeing more fish and getting more bites when situated near weed clumps and weedlines. We landed yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, as well as a few northern pike. I also was very excited to land a beautiful light-coloured crappie. The water colour was stained here and as a result, the fish were very light in colour which was neat to see.

A beautiful light-coloured black crappie that I landed.
Alicia landed this stunning bluegill along with many other catches!

The baits of choice were tiny 1/16oz tungsten jigs tipped with live waxworms. I also used a 1/16oz Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap in the colour Glow tipped with Berkley Gulp Alive Waxies. With the water colour here, I found it helped to use my Rippin’ Rap to call fish in and then I’d go with the tungsten jig for a more subtle approach if they weren’t going for the Rippin’ Rap. You can watch all the fishing action from our day in the video below!

Thank you to Alicia and TJ for an amazing day out on the ice! I cannot wait until our next visit here. The summertime largemouth fishing at Rondeau Bay is calling my name!

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