Family Day Weekend was a great opportunity to get outside and try ice fishing. It is one of four weekends in the year where you can fish without a license in Ontario. The other three are: Mother’s Day Weekend, Father’s Day Weekend, and Family Fishing Week in July, July 3-11, 2021. You must be a Canadian resident. You must follow fishing rules: follow the conservation licence catch limits, obey size limits and sanctuaries, and follow the fishing regulations. You can find Ontario’s Fishing Regulations Summary online at: www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-fishing-regulations-summary. Those under 18 years of age do not need a fishing licence.
After a particularly warm fall, with a couple of shorts-wearing days sticking around until November, it finally got cold in January. We have been very lucky this winter, so far, that we haven’t suffered those freeze-thaw cycles that really mess up a lot of outdoor pastimes. If you enjoy being outside in the winter, this winter has been the best in a long time.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) started a program called Tackleshare. It’s sponsored by Ontario Power Generation, and it allows young or new anglers the opportunity to try out fishing without needing to buy rods, reels, and tackle first. You can borrow fishing equipment from a local library. In North Dundas, you can borrow fishing equipment from the Recreation Library. Keep this option in mind for the next free fishing weekends.
Ontario also has a free learn-to-fish program that has gone virtual due to Covid-19. Details at www.ontario.ca/page/learn-fish. The program will teach you to: rig, bait, and cast a fishing rod; identify and catch local fish species; get a fishing licence and follow fishing regulations; discover more about fishing in Ontario; and fish safely and sustainably.
Always be careful on ice, making sure there’s several inches of thickness before venturing out. There are usually parts of a body of water that don’t freeze. If water is moving fast, or there are dark rocks sticking out of the water, the ice there will probably be thinner. Blue ice or clear ice is stronger than white ice. You need a permit for an ice hut you will leave on the ice, but not for the pop-up ones that you put up and down.
There are 72 different species of fish in the South Nation River. You’re not allowed to catch them all, but that’s a lot of different species of fish!