The holes are drilled and shacks are up as anglers in the Montreal area hit the lakes for the start of the ice fishing season on Sunday.

Operating on one of the recently-named top ice fishing locales in Canada, crews at the Centre de Peche C.R. in Vaudreuil-Dorion measured the ice and are ready to welcome anglers ready to drop a line.

"We've got about two kilometres of road on the ice with about 60 shacks on it," said ice fishing outfitter Ronald Proulx. "Next week there will be 200."

The Fishing Booker blog recently named Deux-Montagnes (Two Mountains) Lake one of the top destinations in Canada.

"The Lake of Two Mountains' winter menu is pretty generous, although one species definitely stands out," the blog writeup says. "The frozen lake is best known for its healthy populations of Smallmouth Bass. Smallies are catch-and-release species, and catching them is a challenging task that requires some serious angling skills. Needless to say, though, it's worth it. Bass aside, the Lake Of Two Mountains ice fishing scene also includes Northern Pike and even Sturgeon among others."

Ice fishing outfitters like ski hills were forced to delay starting their seasons due to unseasonably warm weather.

"The weather has definitely been a factor," said Reel Um In Fishing owner Kirby Joe Diabo, who operates in Kahnawake on Montreal's South Shore. "We are two weeks behind."

Diabo said that the dealy in starting the season, however, may mean he will be able to keep his shop open longer than in 2022.

"The cold weather came fast, though," he said. "Hopefully, it'll make it up at the end. We could be in for a long winter."

Reel Um In Fishing owner Kirby Joe Diabo

Though it's cold and there is ice on the province's bodies of water, Proulx strongly cautioned against heading onto ice that hasn't been treated by an outfitter as it is can be very dangerous.

His crews pump extra water onto the ice when the temperatures drop below freezing to be sure it is thick enough to support a vehicle and fishing shack.

He said this year's weather made ice unsafe in the region.

"For sure, it affects because it's scary," said Proulx. "People who want to go ice fishing must go to an outfitter place; they cannot do it by themselves this year. It's too risky, way too risky."

Proulx has been ice fishing for 40 years and was unsurprised to hear that the lake he fishes on was ranked among the best in the country.

"Here, it's ancestral," said Proulx. "We've done ice fishing around here for more than 100 years. It's part of our heritage here." 

LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: Lake of Two Mountains has been named one of the best places in Canada to ice fish