What you need

To ice fish in Ontario, you need to:

  • have a valid fishing licence (e.g., sport or conservation)
  • follow the rules when ice fishing, including local open and closed seasons, possession limits and size restrictions indicated in the Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary
  • register your ice hut – only in Fisheries Management Zones 9-12 and 14-20
  • clearly display your registration number on the outside of your ice hut
  • remove your ice hut on a certain date - depending on where your hut is located

Fishing seasons

We do not have ice fishing seasons in Ontario – only fishing seasons. Whether you are fishing on the ice, boat or shore depends on the local conditions during the open/closed season for a particular species. For more information on fishing seasons, refer to the Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary.

Ice fishing lines

In most waters, you can ice fish with 2 lines as long as:

  • you stay within 60 metres (197 ft) at all times of any line or tip-up
  • you have a clear and unobstructed view of your lines at all times

You can’t bring any device that uses a mechanical spring to set the fishing hook (other than a fishing rod under tension) within 30 metres (98 ft.) of any waters.

Register ice huts

You must register ice huts used in FMZs 9-12 and 14-20.

You do not need to register ice huts:

  • in FMZs 1-8 or 13; or
  • that are tents made of fabric covering 7 m2 (75.4 ft2) or less when erected

You only need to register once. You can use the same ice hut number on all the ice huts you own. If you have an existing ice hut number, you do not need to re-register – previously issued ice hut numbers continue to be valid.

There are no costs to register.

Step 1: Sign in or create a ONe-key ID

Step 2: Create a Natural Resources Registry profile

Step 3: Register your ice hut

  • select My Services from the main menu
  • click on Create New Submission
  • select Ice Hut Registration from the registry options
  • complete the required information
  • submit the registration
  • registration is free

Step 4: Display your number

  • you’ll receive your ice hut number by e-mail
  • display your number on the outside of your ice hut(s) at least 2.5 inches high (6.3 cm)

Register by mail

Step 1: Download the Ice Hut Registration Form

Step 2: Mail the completed form to:
Registry and Approval Services Centre
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
300 Water Street
Peterborough, ON
K9J 8M5

Step 3: You’ll receive your ice hut number by mail. Display your number on the outside of your ice hut(s) at least 2.5 inches high (6.3 cm)

Permits/licences

You must get a special licence for commercial/tourist operations on Lake Nipissing. You may also need additional permits or authorizations if you plan to use an ice fishing hut in a provincial park. Please contact the appropriate MNRF or Ontario Parks office for more information.

Remove your ice hut

You need to remove your ice hut on a certain date, depending on where your hut is located.

The removal of an ice hut does not indicate the end of ice fishing in that location. This is a safety measure to ensure all huts are removed before thawing occurs.

Remove by March 1

FMZ 17FMZ 20

Remove by March 15

FMZ 14FMZ 16FMZ 18FMZ 19FMZ 12 (below Lake Timiskaming dam)

Remove by March 31

FMZ 9FMZ 10FMZ 11FMZ 15FMZ 12 (above Lake Timiskaming dam)

Remove before ice breakup

All ice huts must be removed before ice breakup, even if no removal date applies.

Find your fisheries management zone (FMZ)

Ice safety tips

Uneven

  • remember—ice doesn’t freeze at a uniform thickness
  • near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice farther out, especially at the start of the winter season
  • check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you move farther out
  • ice that formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice

Colour

  • clear blue ice is the strongest
  • white or opaque ice is much weaker
  • stay away from ice that looks honeycombed, common during thaws or in the spring

Driving on ice

  • be careful when driving snowmobiles or vehicles over frozen lakes or rivers
  • snowmobiles need at least 20 centimetres (8 inches) of clear blue ice
  • light vehicles need 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more
  • double the thickness if the ice is white or opaque
  • heavy snow on a frozen lake or river slows down the freezing process

Before you venture out

  • check ice conditions with local ice hut operators or other anglers
  • let others know where you’re planning to fish and when you plan to return
  • wear appropriate clothing and equipment for safety and comfort
Updated: May 19, 2021
Published: August 15, 2014