With the return of warm spring days and as the lakes and rivers in the area thaw, residents head back out onto the water. It’s hard not to see the rushing, swollen riverbanks and not think about the season’s fishing bounty and you don’t have long to wait. But before you bait your hook make sure you have all your bobbers in a row. If you are an Ontario resident between 18-65 years of age you require a valid fishing license which includes an Ontario Outdoors Card (hunting or fishing card). You will also need either a conservation tag or a sport fishing tag. Each is valid for between 1-3 years and can be purchased online, at Service Canada or one of many licensed issuers, such as Canadian Tire, Pathfinders or Bennett’s Bait & Tackle. If you purchase your license and tag in person you will receive a temporary one that you can use right away and your official card will arrive in the mail. For 2017, your outdoors card will cost you $11.94 with your tag ranging from $16.75-$88.38 depending on the length of time and type (sport fishing or conservation). If you are under 18 years old or over 65 you do not require a license but you must still follow the catch and possession regulations for sport fishing. For more information on the Outdoors Card contact the Outdoors Card Centre at 1-800-387-7011
Twice a year, in February and July, Canadian residents can participate in an Ontario Family Fishing weekend. You must still follow the conservation license catch limits and obey size limits and restrictions but you do not require a license. July 1st-2nd and July 8th-9th you can be a part of the Ontario family fishing event and take part in one of the many area clinics or derbies. To find one near you visit http://www.ontariofamilyfishing.com/events/. So grab your rod and reel, a picnic and head outside with your family for a fun day on or by the water.
If you’re new to the sport and want to give it a try before committing to a license, you can borrow a rod and reel and other gear as part of the TackleShare program at various provincial parks, conservation authorities and some libraries and community groups. In our area, Silver Lake, Fitzroy Harbour, Rideau River and Charleston Lake Provincial Parks host TackleShare programs. Sponsored by Ontario Power Generation, the program which began in 1998 has expanded to over 140 loaner sites. They’re easy to use just find your nearest loaner site at http://www.tackleshare.com/loaner-sites/, call and ensure they have what you need, complete a form and go fishing!
When and where you fish, what you fish for, what you keep and what you can use for bait varies based on the zone in which you are fishing. Ontario is divided into 20 fisheries management zones, our area falls into Zone 18. For a full list of what’s in season and the restrictions on what you can catch and keep in Zone 18 visit: http://files.ontario.ca/environment-and energy/fishing/2017/2017_FMZ_18_English.pdf
If you’re wondering where your favourite catch is hiding out there are a number of printed angler maps and fishing guides available at bait shops and retailers in our area. The Lanark County website has a number of online fishing maps which outline area lakes and show common fish species, lake depths and temperatures. With all this information on hand you’re sure to land yourself the catch of the day this summer!