For recreational fishing purposes, Ontario is divided into 20 Fisheries Management Zones. Please follow these step-by-step instructions to be sure that you comply with the regulations.

  1. Make sure that you have a valid Ontario fishing licence by reviewing the recreational fishing licences and fees section.
  2. Carefully read the general fishing regulations, bait and invasive species and VHS sections for information that applies to fishing in all Zones, including the following:
    • glossary of terms
    • general prohibitions
    • provincial possession limits
    • catch and retain rules
    • transporting and packaging fish
    • ice fishing and huts
    • non-angling methods of fishing
    • boundary waters
    • Crown land camping regulations
  3. Using the Fisheries Management Zones map, determine the Zone in which you plan to fish. For a more detailed map, see the Zone section to identify the Zone’s boundaries.
  4. At the start of each Zone, the general information section indicates regulations and information that are applicable to the Zone. Regulations are then broken down into five distinct categories. The following categories and descriptions will assist you in identifying the regulations that are applicable to your waterbody:

    Zone-wide seasons and limits

    • Defines the season and limits for all species present in the Zone. Unless otherwise stated in the species exceptions or waterbody exceptions, these seasons and limits apply to all waterbodies within the Zone.

    Species exceptions

    • If a waterbody’s limits and/or seasons for a particular species are different from the rest of the Zone, this will be indicated in the species exceptions.
    • Additional fishing opportunities, which provide anglers with increased limits and/or extended seasons, are also included as species exceptions.

    Waterbody exceptions

    • Some waterbodies have regulations that are unique to them and very different from other waterbodies in a Zone. In many cases, these waterbodies have a combination of various regulations including species exceptions, bait restrictions, gear restrictions and/or fish sanctuaries. Where applicable, these waterbodies are indicated in the waterbody exceptions and highlighted under the general information at the beginning of each Zone.

    Bait restrictions

    • There are some areas and waterbodies within the province where the use and/or possession of live bait is prohibited. Where this is the case, these areas and waterbodies are indicated in the bait restrictions section. Zone-wide bait restrictions in Zones 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are indicated in the general information section.

    Fish sanctuaries

    • Fish sanctuaries include waterbodies or portions of a waterbody where no fishing of any kind is permitted for all or part of the year. Where applicable, these areas and waterbodies are indicated in the fish sanctuaries section.

    It is important to note that some waterbodies listed as additional fishing opportunities in Zones 5, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17 may also be listed under waterbody exceptions, bait restrictions and/or fish sanctuaries. In all other Zones, waterbodies are only listed under one section.

  5. If you are a non-Canadian resident fishing in Northwestern Ontario, there are additional regulations that are applicable to you. Refer to the general fishing regulations section for more information.