Why fish?

Fishing is an inexpensive, family-friendly pastime that is:

  • easy to learn
  • practised almost anywhere
  • enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities

Fishing 101 handbook

Pick up the basics of fishing in the Learn to Fish Guide — How to Have Fun and Catch Something Too!, a free 40-page primer published by the ministry. It was written for parents and guardians, but the advice is for anyone new to fishing. This comprehensive tutorial provides:

  • clear explanations and simple step-by-step instructions
  • a glossary of common fishing terms
  • helpful pictures and diagrams

Gearing up

  • choosing a rod and reel
  • hooks and line
  • lures and bait

Fishing how-tos

  • find a good fishing spot
  • bait a hook, cast a line and land a fish
  • identify, clean and cook your catch
  • ice fishing

Kid-friendly advice

  • what to bring
  • safety tips

Learn to Fish Guide

Tips on fishing with kids

  1. Relax! Bring a smile and an open mind.
  2. Keep it simple. An inexpensive rod and reel, with live bait and a bobber, will get you off to a good start.
  3. Fish from shore. Kids sometimes need a chance to run around.
  4. Fish for little fish. Kids often care more about the number of fish they catch than the size. Sunfish and other pan-sized fish are plentiful and easy to hook.
  5. Make it fun. Encourage patience, cooperation, and trying something new.
  6. Teach skills. Kids learn by doing.
  7. Help children problem-solve. Lines get tangled. Hooks get snagged. Fish stop biting. Identifying a problem and finding its solution is a valuable skill.
  8. Be flexible. If your child is too excited to sit still with a bobber and live bait, change tactics or move to a different spot.
  9. Be a good eco-citizen. Don’t litter, follow the fishing regulations, and release any fish you don’t plan to eat.
  10. Don’t stay too long. End your trip on a high note.

Family fishing events

Looking for the perfect time to give fishing a try?

Free fishing

Free fishing periods

National Fishing Week — Catch Fishing

When you need a fishing licence

Outside of the free family fishing periods, most adults 18 years and older need to buy an Outdoors Card and fishing licence.

You don’t need to buy a licence for anyone 17 years and under. For kids, there is an optional young angler’s licence with the young angler’s pledge printed on the back. These free cards are available from early February every year (while supplies last) from:

Young angler’s licences are also available by request for personal use or youth fishing events.

Email: learntofish@ontario.ca

Find a ServiceOntario location

See the young angler’s licence

Learn to Fish program

The Learn to Fish program introduces kids, teens and adults to fishing. This fun and engaging two–hour program combines a one-hour practical teaching session with one hour of supervised hands–on fishing.

Learn to Fish program


No gear? No problem. The TackleShare program lends basic fishing gear to children or novice anglers who don’t have their own equipment. You can gear up at locations across the province, including many:

  • Ontario provincial parks
  • conservation authorities
  • libraries
  • Big Brothers and Sisters

TackleShare is a joint initiative between the ministry and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, supported by Ontario Power Generation.

Find a TackleShare location near you

Find an Ontario Parks TackleShare location

Safety first

Wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) keeps your child safe while fishing. You can borrow PFDs for free at many Ontario provincial parks.

Find Ontario Parks that loan PFDs

Learn about life jackets and PFDs

Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter

Fishing is an activity every child should try at least once. It’s one of the iconic experiences of childhood. It’s also one of the 12 activities promoted by the new Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter, created to get children outdoors and active.

Check out the Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter