Ontario residents of all ages can fish for free on Family Day weekend, from February 15 to 17. You don’t need to buy a licence or carry an Outdoors Card.
“Our government is making it easier for families to spend quality time together while enjoying Ontario’s world-class lakes, rivers and streams,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry of Ontario.
If you think that recreational fishing is just for fun, you would be surprised to know that recreational anglers contribute $2.2 billion annually to the Ontario economy in direct and related spending.
Free Fishing Events 2020
Ontario government has doubled the number of free fishing events. This year’s other licence-free fishing experiences are also offered on:
- Mother’s Day weekend (May 9-10)
- Father’s Day weekend (June 20-21)
- during Family Fishing Week (July 4-12)
Ice Fishing in Ontario
Ontario offers world-class ice fishing opportunities: anglers may fish in the open or in heated enclosures, some with bunks and amenities.
When ice fishing, safety should always be first:
- Keep in mind that ice does not freeze evenly. Ice near shore will be thicker than farther out, and clear blue ice is stronger than white ice.
- Make sure you check ice thickness using your auger as you move farther out.
- Recommended ice thickness: 4 inches (10cm) for walking; 5–6 inches (13–15 cm) for sleds (snow machines, snowmobiles); 7–12 inches (18–30cm) for light cars; and 14–16 inches (36-41cm) for full-sized trucks
- Always dress for the weather and layer up.
- Bring a charged cell phone with you, and let someone know where and when you’re going out.
- Bring a thermos with hot coffee or tea.
Remember, ice fishing isn’t all fun. It can be dangerous if you don’t do it right. The ice thickness is number one concern. Other risks include carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly used heaters and frostbite from exposure to the cold and wind.
Fish for Free in Ontario Parks on this Family Day
Ontario Parks recommends the following spots for ice fishing:
- Windy Lake Provincial Park (45 minutes from Sudbury) is a winter wonderland offering skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.
- Silent Lake Provincial Park (2.5 hours from Toronto and 3 hours from Ottawa) has everything you need for a great winter fishing trip.
- Sibbald Point Provincial Park (1 hour from Toronto) is a great spot to enjoy fishing for jumbo Yellow Perch and Whitefish.
- Quetico Point Provincial Park (4 hours east of Kenora or 3 hours west of Nipigon) hosts endless opportunities for ice fishing.
- Frontenac Provincial Park (45 minutes from Kingston) is a favourite of winter anglers!