Greenstone's Tom Alton caters to urban anglers looking for wilderness experience

Knowing how to cook a shore lunch at -30 Celsius is just one of the skills you need to be a winter ice fishing guide.

Greenstone resident caters to anglers from GTA and United States

Cooking shore lunch in cold temperatures is just one of the tricks that a winter ice fishing guide faces. (photo by Gord Ellis/CBC)
Outdoor columnist Gord Ellis was in Greenstone last weekend and spent a couple days with an ice fishing guide. We find out the tricks of that trade. 10:03

Knowing how to cook a shore lunch at -30C is just one of the skills you need to be a winter ice fishing guide.

Tom Alton of North Central Guiding in Greenstone, says dealing with the elements is his biggest challenge.

He said making sure his clients are warm and comfortable is important.

But Alton said, even when it's cold, they still want to eat a shore lunch.

"I've cooked many a shore lunch in 20 and 30 below," said Alton. "Especially with wind chills. The tent smells like a fry shack for a little while afterwards."  

Alton said he has become pretty good at figuring out ways to cook in the cold.

He said he often uses bags of frozen fries for potatoes as canned potatoes becomes a "block of ice."

Alton said when it come to the type of fish he likes to cook, there are some good options.  

"It's hard to beat walleye, of course," he said. "But I really like the splake too. They are very nice eating. Pike are good." 

Tom Alton of North Central Guiding, says most of his clients come from the Greater Toronto Area or the United States. Outside of catching fish, keeping clients warm, comfortable and well fed is his top priority, he says. (photo by Gord Ellis)

Clients look for 'something different'

Alton said most of his clients are from southern Ontario or from the United States. 

He said most of the people he guides are seasoned winter anglers looking for a real wilderness experience.

"They like the fact they can jump on an airplane [to Thunder Bay], and jump in a rental truck to come here," he said. "I'm equipped with all the gear so they don't have to haul it all up from Toronto or where ever they are coming from." 

Alton said he has been in business for five years and has many repeat clients.

He said many of them are experienced anglers who usually fish in southern Ontario, but come north looking for something different.

"They are up on Lake Simcoe and trips up to Temagami annually," he said. "They just love it up here. To literally go to a different lake every day."


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