Monday, May 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Monday, May 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

New walleye regulation for Ontario’s Lake of the Woods

A protected slot for walleyes and sauger on the Ontario side of Lake of the Woods that used to begin at 46 centimeters (18.1 inches) is now 43 centimeters (16.9 inches). (File photo courtesy of Vexilar)

Kenora, Ontario — When walleye-fishing season begins Saturday on the Ontario side of Lake of the Woods, anglers there – both residents and nonresidents – will be asked to abide by a new slot regulation aimed at increasing the number of spawning-size fish.

A protected slot for walleyes and sauger that used to begin at 46 centimeters (18.1 inches) is now 43 centimeters (16.9 inches), according to Gerry Cariou, executive director of the Sunset Country Travel Association. The slot is an exception to the general regulation for other waters within Fish Management Zone 5, which extends from Quetico Provincial Park on the east side to the city of Rainy River, Ont., on the west.

“We want people to keep the smaller fish, which are good to eat,” Cariou said. “There was low (spawning) biomass (of walleyes), according to a study, relative to the biomass in other similar waters.”

The most-fished area of Ontario by anglers from the Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest is Zone 5, which includes popular lakes including the Canadian waters of Lake of the Woods. Based on research that shows below-desired levels of walleye spawning biomass, fishing regulations this year include an expanded protected slot for walleyes and sauger. (Map courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

Cariou said discussion also involved reducing bag limits, but officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry opted to alter just the walleye/sauger slot.

For nonresidents fishing Ontario’s Lake of the Woods, a sport license now entitles anglers to two fish daily and four in possession. In both cases, no walleyes or sauger from 16.9 to 27.6 inches (70 cm) are allowed to be kept. Only one over 70 centimeters will allowed in either daily or possession limits. For those with conservation licenses, the daily and possession limits are both two fish, and no fish over 16.9 inches may be kept.

Elsewhere in zone 5, most regulations remain unchanged. For information from zone 5 and other fishing zones in Ontario (including zone 6, the location of popular Lac Seul), visit here.


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Tourism comeback?

According to Cariou, the area known as Sunset Country, as well as other popular fishing vacations destinations across the province, continue to recover from the so-called “COVID years,” during which restrictions either kept nonresidents from entering the country altogether or, later, restricted who might cross into the country from the United States.

“I can’t say they’ve recovered,” Cariou said of the return of tourists – primarily anglers – to that area of Canada.

Based on data from three points of entry to Ontario (all in Minnesota: Pigeon River, International Falls, and Baudette), total U.S. resident entries were down 27% a year ago – the first without COVID-related restrictions – compared with the spring and summer of 2019, what Cariou calls the last “normal” year.

“That amounts to 80,000 fewer tourists, so we’re still in a phase of post-COVID hangover,” he said.

A number of factors, from a higher rates of inflation in recent years to people who might be sticking with other fishing destination options discovered during the COVID years, might be contributing to the decrease in visitors to Ontario, Cariou said, adding that “recovery” to past levels could be a three- to five-year process.

“We need to restore numbers, and we need to restore people’s trust,” he said.

Other reminders for travelers to Canada

Cariou recently updated a checklist for fishers who might be planning a trip to a Canadian destination during the open-water season. Among them: Have boats and trailers clean and weed-free, and have the plug pulled when traveling. Don’t have dried up worms, leeches, or minnows on a boat’s floor.

Pay special attention to the boat’s livewell.

“A good idea to avoid delays is to take your boat to a cleaning station in the U.S. before crossing (the border) and keep the payment receipt as proof you cleaned the boat,” Cariou wrote in his “Everything you need to know about visiting Canada” report.

Other things to consider:

• Similar to the above aquatic invasives species considerations, “The Canada Border Services Agency is not allowing any bait from the USA into Canada,” Cariou writes. “This includes live bait, dead bait, salted bait, and nightcrawlers. None are allowed.”

• Nonresidents of Canada who want to fish or hunt while in Ontario are required to have a valid outdoor card and a valid fishing or hunting license.

• You’re allowed to use four hooks per line in Ontario, and just one line is allowed per angler.

• “Canada doesn’t recognize your Second Amendment under our laws, so handguns are not allowed to cross the border into Canada,” Cariou writes. “Other weapons such as mace, pepper spray, butterfly knives, tasers, and stun guns also are prohibited. You maybe bring a long rifle or shotgun for hunting purposes only.”

• Persons entering Canada must provide proof of citizenship and proof of identity. If you are a citizen of the United States, you should get a passport to enter Canada.

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