Ontario Newsroom

Fishing Regulation Changes In Southern Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Fishing Regulation Changes In Southern Ontario


Several changes to Ontario's fishing regulations came into effect on January 1, 2008.  The changes are part of the ministry's new ecological framework for recreational fisheries management in Ontario.  Under this approach, the ministry is managing fisheries on a zone basis rather than on a lake-by-lake basis.

The total number of Fisheries Management Zones (formerly Fishing Divisions) has been reduced to 20 across Ontario.  Nine of the new Fisheries Management Zones (Zones) are located in Southern Ontario (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20).  A map of the zones is available here.

Some of the regulation changes include:

  • Requiring ice hut registration in all southern Ontario Zones except Zone 13
  • Extending the bass season by six weeks and northern pike season by four weeks in parts of Zone 18
  • Closing the winter lake trout season in a number of natural lake trout lakes in Zone 18
  • Closing the winter season in a number of natural brook trout lakes in Zone 15
  • Reducing catch limits for rainbow trout to two with a Sport Fishing Licence and to one with a Conservation Fishing Licence for Lake Ontario tributaries in Zones 16 and 17
  • Some new perch, crappie and sunfish limits in many southern Ontario Zones
  • Two lines may now be used from a boat in open water in Lake St. Clair in Zone 19
  • American eel is a specially protected fish and has a closed all-year season.

The ministry also conducted a study of walleye in southern Ontario and held public consultation on proposed new walleye regulations for inland lakes in southern Ontario.  Interim regulations were implemented to protect and rebuild populations until final regulations can be developed with the advice of the new Fisheries Management Advisory Councils proposed for each new zone.  The interim regulations are:

  • Walleye catch limit of four for a Sport Fishing Licence holder, with a limit of two for a Conservation Fishing Licence holder in Zones 15, 16, 17 and 18
  • Walleye size limit was put in place in Zones 15, 16, 17 and 18, only one fish allowed over 46 cm (18.1 in.)
  • Winter walleye seasons were reduced in length by two to eight weeks depending on the Zone
  • An in-season size limit in Zone 12 is in place; between March 1 and June 15, all walleye must be less than 40 cm (15.8 in.)
  • A limit of five walleye in Zone 12 for Sport Fishing Licence holders.

For complete details of regulation changes, refer to the 2008-2009 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary.  Before going fishing, anglers should carefully review the information outlined in the summary.

The 2008-2009 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary is now available from licence issuers, ServiceOntario/Government Information Centres and on the ministry's website at ontario.ca/fishing.



Environment and Energy