Each year, around mid-December, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade's outfitters increase the thickness of the ice in order to securely install their traditional ice fishing cabins. They welcome more than 100.000 fans of this unequalled winter activity until February 15. Positioned to form a typical village, these cabins are heated by wood stoves or fuel burners and are equipped with electricity for the comfort of their occupants. They can normally accommodate between 4 and 20 people.
To lure the fish, small cubes of pork liver or shrimps are used as bait. Once the fishing line is thrown in the water, a small stick is attached to it which, as it moves, indicates that a fish has swallowed the bait. The smelt, which measures between 8 and 38 cm, is very voracious. So much so that, when there is a "bite", a group can multiply its catches and enjoy a fruitful harvest in about 10 hours! As soon as they are caught, the fish are laid outside the huts to freeze in order to retain all their freshness, to be turned into a real feast, later.
Consequently, one discovers on the river, restaurants, a crafts center, a kid's slide, skating areas and, at night, a colourful illuminated park. The romantics at heart could even cuddle up, wrapped in fur, for a little sleigh ride... Furthermore, each year adds more activities to a fun-filled season.
As soon as it's cold enough for the river to freeze over, our first task is to rapidly thicken the ice by spraying it with water pumped from underneath the ice crust, thus making it more secure.
Then the poles and electric cables are installed, followed by the cabins which are transported to their location on a tractor-pulled sleigh. With the help of a chain-saw, an opening is made in the ice, measuring approx. 15 inches wide by the length of the cabin to be installed. We then remove these blocks of ice lowering the cabin on top of the opening and resting on these same blocks. Finally, snow is packed around the cabin for insulation.
The fishing lines, attached to a wooden pole, 1 foot from the ceiling of the cabin, are anchored to a lead weight and two well sharpened hooks. Small cubes of pork liver or shrimps are used as bait. The weighted hooks are then lowered to the botton, then raised about an inch so that only the hooks rest on the botton ; that's where the smelts are "hanging out". A wooden matchstick is fixed ont he line to indicate that the fish "bites". Since the activity is done in the winter, the fish is laid on the ice to be frozen instantly, thus retaining their full freshness.
That's all there is to it!!!