Hook, Line & Spear - The Ice Fishing History of Lake Simcoe by Robert A. Kirk

Book Reviews

My guess is that it would be hard to find anyone, certainly within the Province of Ontario in any event, who has not at least heard of Lake Simcoe.

Located between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, it is the 4th largest of the Provinces inland lakes, and despite a remarkable amount of fishing pressure throughout the entire year, remains one of Ontario’s most prolific fisheries.

While Yellow Perch and Bass are now the dominant species, at one time Lake Simcoe boasted a Lake Trout and Whitefish fishery that was in many respects second to none.

In fact, between 1907 and 1941, a winter catch of over 500, 000 pounds of Lake Trout was reported by licensed fisherman.

Native peoples and others have fished Lake Simcoe for over 5000 years, much of the time with spears, and hand made wooden fish decoys that were used to lure fish within range of the fisherman’s spear.

These decoys and spears were as unique as the individuals who used them, many of whom fished through the ice not for recreational purposes, but rather to put food on the table and support their families by selling their catch.

Through the pages of this book the reader is transported to a time and place where sonars and other technical aides were yet to be invented, and the only “tools” available to fishermen were their skill, resourcefulness, experience and a great deal of patience.

The equipment they used was not mass-produced, but rather individually tailored to the angler’s specifications and preferences by skilled wood carvers and blacksmiths.

Mr. Kirk provides the reader with a wealth of information about these craftsmen, most of who are sadly no longer with us, and has included a number of rare photographs that showcase their work.

In addition, the book contains many historical photographs of huts, sleighs, vehicles, miscellaneous equipment and the people who fished through the ice in years past.

If you are an angling historian or just someone who is familiar with the area and would like to learn more about how fishing has changed and evolved over the past several hundred years on Lake Simcoe, then you will find this book to be a fascinating and informative read.

Although currently out of print, there are a limited number of new, unused copies available at:


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