Let’s take all the guessing out of getting or renewing your Ontario fishing license before you travel to Canada fishing lodges. If you follow these steps, you will know you are in compliance with Ontario laws and regulations. Then you can just relax and have a blast fishing Ontario lake trout (or whatever fish) on your next trip.
Step One – Buy an Ontario Outdoors Card
This is not a fishing license, so I know you may want to skip this step. You cannot skip this step; you need this and a fishing license. You can buy an Ontario Outdoors Card for $9.68 ($8.57 for the card and $1.11 for tax).
At least 3 weeks before your trip, buy your Ontario Outdoors Card here.
This will take you to the Province of Ontario Ministry of Fish and Wildlife website, the page for fishing and hunting licenses. The process on this site will sort out your residency status: Ontario resident, non-resident, and non-Canadian resident. The license options available to you will automatically be appropriate for your status.
Click on ‘My Account’. You will be prompted to answer questions about yourself: residency, create a password, name, gender, height (in centimeters and feet and inches), eye color, and address. Don’t wrestle with trying to convert your imperial measurement into centimeters. Just move over to the right and fill in your height in feet and inches, as 5.11 for example. Your metric height will fill in on the left.
When you complete everything and certify that it is accurate, a menu pops up with the Ontario Outdoors Card and each fishing license you can buy based on your residency status. Only two options will be active: the Outdoors card and the 1-day Sport Fishing License (no Outdoors Card needed for this one). The other licenses won’t be available to you until you select Outdoors Card to put in your “shopping basket”.
The requirement for an Ontario Outdoors Card in addition to a valid fishing license is not intended to burden you with another layer of bureaucracy and expense. Fishing is so great in Ontario because of the careful way our fisheries are protected and managed. All (100%) of that fee funds programs that protect the future of fish and wildlife in Ontario.
Here is how the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife spends your $8.57. $1.89 is spent on regulation to manage the fisheries. $1.63 is spent on science to understand the health of our lakes and rivers. $1.54 is spent on enforcing our regulations. $1.46 is spent making licensing easily available to sport fishermen. $1.37 is spent on conservation programs. $0.68 is spent on the Learn to Fish program which taught almost 8,000 people last year. Many of those were families with their children learning how to have fun fishing safely and responsibly.
While you can’t legally buy a fishing license in Ontario (except the 1-day sport license) without having a valid Ontario Outdoors Card, it could be possible to do so if you tried hard enough. You would have to fudge things and be dishonest. However, you would have trouble when an Ontario Conservation Officer asks you to produce your documents authorizing you to fish in Ontario. If you can only produce a fishing license, you will be cited for an offense of Ontario Regulation 664/98 under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1997. Specifically, item 1, failing to carry outdoors card while fishing, Section 5 (1), set fine $200. You will also have to appear in court where you committed your offense. You may live a long distance away and have to return for your day in court.
Step Two – Buy an Ontario fishing license
It is time to be careful now. Ontario offers several options for fishing licenses, depending on where you live (residency), how long you want your license to be valid, and how many fish you intend to catch. Buying the wrong license can earn you a fine just like not having a license. Each license has a different price. Do not shop licenses by price. Buy the one that fits your situation.
At least 3 weeks before your trip, buy your Ontario fishing license here.
This is the same page I sent you to in order to buy your outdoors card. You can buy them both at the same time, but you can also buy the fishing license by itself if your Outdoors Card is still be valid.
Again, the prompts will steer you to the fishing licenses you qualify for, based on your residency status. First choose the type of fishing you want to do: sport or conservation. The Sport Fishing license is for anglers who want full catch and possession privileges and the Conservation Fishing license is for anglers who want to live-release most of the fish they catch. For a full explanation of this, see page 6 of the 2019 Fishing Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary here.
There are other ways you can by your Ontario Outdoors Card and fishing license.
- Buy at your outfitter when you arrive but check first because many don’t offer that service.
- Buy at a bait or tackle shop near the lake you plan to fish.
- Buy at a ServiceOntario
- Several retailers sell fishing licenses:Cabela’s, Canadian Tire, and Walmart.
- If you are a resident of Ontario, you can purchase an Outdoors Card and license tag(s) by phone at 1-800-288-1155.
American pro bass angler, Josh Douglas competed in the Lake St. Clair FLW Tour in June of 2018. He was fishing on the Ontario side of the lake and he felt confident of placing well in the tournament. Conservation officers in an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry boat inspected all the anglers on the Canadian side of the lake. Douglas was confident that he was in compliance with Ontario regulations. Unfortunately, he purchased the wrong license. He had purchased the 8-day non-resident conservation fishing license instead of the 8-day non-resident sport fishing license that he needed for the necessary catch limits. Douglas was over-limit. He was fined $300 and had to cull his catch by 3 bass and his official day-1 weight was wiped off the tournament record. Instead of being a day of victory, he felt it was the opposite.
These are the 2 steps to renewing your Ontario fishing license. Follow them and you are ready to book your reservation at one of the Canada fishing lodges. Check out Wildwood on Lake Savant. Unplug your family, reconnect, and have the best fishing of your life.