While record low ice coverage on the Great Lakes may be preventing you from ice fishing this winter, it’s not too early to start dreaming about the open water season. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) recently released the 2024 Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary, and is reminding all anglers to review regulations for their Fishing Management Zone (FMZ) before heading out on the water. Digital copies can be viewed online or as a PDF download.
Some of the updates applicable to Georgian Bay (FMZ 14) are briefly described below. Note: please refer to the 2024 Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary for full details on all regulations.
Changes to permitted baitfish species
Several species were removed from the list of species of fish that can be used live as bait. This change was made to remove species that are: invasive or can easily be confused with an invasive species; provincially rare; not generally used as bait by anglers; and not generally sold as bait by commercial operators.
In addition, the banded killifish was added as an approved baitfish species. See page 20 of the regulations PDF for the complete list of approved baitfish species.
Changes to regulations related to possession, use, and transport of bait
These changes are applicable to baitfish and leeches and include allowing:
- A person to transport bait through an adjacent Bait Management Zone (BMZ), only if they use a direct route through the adjacent BMZ to reach a destination in a BMZ where they lawfully obtained bait.
- Preserved bait to be transported into and out of a BMZ, as long as the bait is dead and has been preserved (treated or prepared in a manner to prevent decay or decomposition) using a method of preservation other than refrigeration or freezing.
- Preserved bait for fishing to be possessed and used in Bait Management Zones (receipts are not required for preserved bait).
Proposed changes to release of fish rules
You may recall our April, 2023 blog post about proposed changes to the rules around the immediate release of fish. The proposed changes would:
- Allow anglers to delay the release of a fish caught during the open season for that species, only long enough to photograph, measure, and weigh, if the fish is of a restricted size or over daily catch and possession limits; and
- Require the immediate release of fish that are out of season, are species at risk, or are otherwise prohibited under the existing recreational fishing rules.
These changes related to the release of fish have not come into effect. The earliest possible date to implement any changes related to this proposal is January 1, 2025.
Learn more about fish populations in Georgian Bay by visiting the Fish Communities page.