As a travel writer I’m always looking for new adventures and experiences to dive into. So after a simple conversation with fellow travel bloggers Helen, Mary and Vanessa about ice fishing I found myself on the Central Counties Tourism website looking for inspiration on my next adventure.
The Central Counties Tourism website had all the information we needed to plan our winter escape. The first order of business: find accommodations, near a lake where we could go ice fishing. Since we are girly girls and like nice hotels we decided that the Briars Resort was just the right place. Located on Lake Simcoe in Jackson’s Point, the Briars offered a Winter Blah Buster’s package, which was the perfect setting for our “un-girly” winter escape. As luck would have it, our decision to make this trip a reality was easy, once we found ice fishing outfitters Bonnie Boats were also located in Jackson’s Point and were a preferred vendor of the Briars Resort.
The Briars Resort – Girls Getaway Package Welcome
We were so thrilled that the Briars Resort modified their winter blahs package to include some Girl Getaway features including a Wine and Cheese welcome at our cottage. After our check-in, we were escorted down to our Chip Shot Cottage which sat right on the shores of Lake Simcoe.
The two bedroom cottage featured four beds, a nice living room with a fireplace and a television, a small kitchen and 2 bathrooms. The kitchen had a microwave, sink and coffee maker and all the dishes, glasses and cutlery we could have possibly needed during our stay.
We split up into two rooms, unpacked and headed to the living room where our first order of business was to start the fire. There is nothing more fun than four girls sitting around the fireplace with wine and cheese having an awesome girls chat into the wee hours of morning.
We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and were shuttled to the Briars main building where a buffet breakfast was served in the dining room. Fresh orange juice, a selection of cereals, pastries, fruit and hot breakfast items were all included. The resort even packed a bagged lunch for us to take on our fishing expedition.
Ice Fishing with Bonnie Boats – Careful Near the Shore
After breakfast we walked from the main building to the dock on Lake Simcoe to wait for our transport to Bonnie Boats Marina for our Ice Fishing experience. The blue “Da Bomb Bardier” vehicle made it’s way across the ice and we had to walk down to the ice surface to make our way across to it. My first step onto a frozen lake and my foot went right through the ice! Scott our ice fishing guide was not concerned at all and pointed me to the vehicle. Apparently, it is quite common for there to be soft ice near the shore of the lake, which did not come up in my ice fishing research.
We rode to the Bonnie Boats marina and there Scott handed me a plastic bag and pointed to the small wood burning stove. I sat on a wooden log and with a roll of paper towel, tried to dry my feet and boots. Mary held my sock near the stove in hopes to get it dry before we had to head out to our ice hut. It was no use! My sock and boot were still soaked with water. I took the plastic bag and placed it over my dry bare foot, wrapped the wet sock over top and placed my foot into the boot and off we went!
We headed out in the Bombardier vehicle again and were led into a large ice hut. I headed to the back of the hut near the Coleman stove that was burning and decided to take off my boot, set it by the oven and hang my sock over top to try and dry it out some more.
We watched and listened as our guide baited the ice fishing hook with minnows. Then he plopped them into the water and left us in the hut alone. We all looked at one another in horror for a moment when we realized we had to bait our own hooks. So the rubber gloves came out and Mary braved the minnow bucket first to get her ice fishing rod set up and in the water.
For two hours, we chatted and laughed, ate some snacks and had a few beverages while we waited to catch our first fish. No luck, we were saved again by Scott who told us to pack our gear. We were done white fish ice fishing and were going to take a stab at Perch fishing which was supposed to be much easier. So we headed out to another ice hut, which was surrounded by fish guts and blood. Scott went inside and came out with a plastic bag, he poured out the contents and three huge fish splashed out onto the ice. We were about to get the “I caught a really big fish” experience.
After holding my first lake trout, we were taken to our last ice fishing hut. Much smaller than the first and we could see the bottom of the lake from here. Perch fishing is done in shallow waters and whitefish and trout fishing in deeper waters. We got set up again and waited for the fish. After another hour of staring into the ice hole, I saw it. A small striped fish heading to a hook. That’s when Vanessa started to respond. The fish took the bait and she started pulling up her fishing line. We caught a fish! A teeny tiny one! But a fish never the less!
Shortly after our ice fishing time was over. The crew at Bonnie Boats dropped us off on the shore of the Briars and we had to make our way back to land over the frozen ice. Obviously, with a really cold and wet foot I was a bit concerned about this walk back to shore! Every time my foot sank a bit in the snow above the ice I had a mild stroke of panic. Luckily we all made it back safe and sound. Thanks so much to everyone at Bonnie Boats for helping us get the “full experience” of Ice Fishing on Lake Simcoe.
Winter Wonderland at the Briars
We had a quick stop at our cottage to freshen up and grab our photography gear for a photography walk at the Briars. We met our photography guide who escorted us around the grounds pointing out the best angles for photographs. We learned about the Briars resort’s rich history and had an amazing walk through the walking trails in the woods that surround the resort. After our walk we hopped aboard the Winter Sleigh for a fun horse drawn sleigh ride.
The Briars is a great place for a winter escape featuring cross country ski trails, walking trails, an all-day outdoor bon fire and all the free hot chocolate you can drink in the lounge. But what would a girls weekend be without a little pampering at the spa? We had mini-manicures to wrap up our adventures for the day. It is hard to believe how much we experienced in one day.
After another freshen up at the cottage we returned to the Main house for dinner. A little fine dining which included an amazing Maple Pear and Arugula salad to start, a 9oz Angus Strip steak and for dessert I had the fresh berry pie with ice cream!
We ended our evening back at the cottage with another roaring fire, some wine and more girl talk!
Sunday Morning – Game Day – Olympic Hockey Gold
The Briars staff opened up the main hall early on Sunday morning so that everyone at the resort could come watch our Men’s Olympic Hockey Team win gold! A great way to start our last day in Central Counties. After another amazing breakfast, we toured the resort’s main building, discovering the amazing little sitting rooms scattered about. It is so easy to find a nice quiet room with a fireplace to sit in and read. I lost count of how many rooms we walked through, each with it’s own snapshot of the resort’s famous history.
I was so sad to check out of the Briars. Thank you so much to all the staff for being so friendly and helpful during our stay. I feel like I only scratched the surface of what this amazing resort has to offer and I can’t wait to come back and see more of it.
The ROC – A Little Hill Packed with a Lot of Fun
Our last stop on this girls weekend was a thrill ride at the ROC located in Georgina. One hill filled with lots of fun activities, including skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snow tubing.
We grabbed a snow tube and headed to the lift. The conveyor belt took us up, and at the top we sat in the tube and were pushed off the side of the mountain. It was soooooo fun! Click here to read more from the awesome adventure at the ROC.
Special thanks to my fellow travel bloggers: Mary (Calculated Traveller), Helen (Not Without My Passport) and Vanessa (Turnipseed Travel) for joining me on this fun and amazing winter adventure. Thanks also to everyone at Central Counties Tourism, The Briars Resort, Bonnie Boats and the ROC for hosting us and encouraging us to experience this amazing winter getaway in Ontario.
Sharon Mendelaoui is a Thornhill based travel writer. Her blog dreamtravelmagazine.com is an online travel magazine filled with travel tips, hotel and excursion reviews and dream vacation destinations and experiences.