Thu. Feb 29th, 2024
Responsible fishermen are nature's superheroes

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Invasive Species Center.

Fishing can be enjoyed in all seasons, and this means we can keep the health of our lakes and waterways in mind all year round.

In Ontario, the Fisheries Regulation controls live bait to prevent the spread of infectious fish diseases (such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia), unwanted fish species, and invasive species.

Let’s improve our bait information to help protect our lakes and become fighters against invasive species. Your training starts now.

Did you know?

Not all small fish are minnows

In Ontario, residents with a fishing license can catch 48 species of baitfish, including some species of minnows, suckers, sticklebacks, sculpins and darters, and have up to 120 baitfish in their possession at any time.

mom showing bait to son

If you plan to catch your own baitfish for local use, it is up to you to know the 48 species of legal baitfish and the rules surrounding which species can be used as live bait.

Local bait is better

Always use bait that you harvested yourself from the area where you harvested it. If you’re planning a fishing trip (lucky you!), it’s essential to know beforehand where you plan to buy your bait. If you travel long distances to fish, buy bait as close to your destination as possible.

bait bucket with leeches

You can’t take the bait everywhere

Using bait is prohibited in some provincial parks and in sensitive rivers and lakes. Visit Fish ON-line to learn the rules that apply to your favorite fishing spot and check with park staff when planning your trip to the park.

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To take action!

Someone draining a bait bucket full of bait fish but not throwing it away.NEVER throw the bait bucket into the water!

We all know that the best way to get rid of bait is to fish, but that is not the case. each time to go fishing. Bait collectors and traders in Ontario take special care and have measures in place to help prevent the sale of non-bait species to anglers, but there is always a risk of this occurring.

If this occurs and unused bait is dumped into a new lake, a new population of invasive species may establish or fish diseases may spread, eroding a healthy ecosystem.

Learn the correct ways to dispose of your bait:

Bury or throw away the bait at least 30 m from the water

bait dump

Bury or trash your live bait or the contents of your bait bucket (including water) 30 m or more from any water source. This minimizes the possibility of introducing invasive species into Ontario waters.

take it home

As the saying goes, “a bad day fishing is better than a great day at the office.” If you agree, save the bait for another day of fishing. The bait can be frozen or put in salt to preserve it and reuse it. Simply defrost or remove the salt and you’re done.

Just remember: you can’t have more than 120 in your possession.

Give a present

If you’re in a hurry and want to unload your bait, look no further than other anglers on the lake. Be friends with a fisherman and share the wealth. The most important part of re-gifting is also sharing the knowledge you have learned here today! Inform the recipient of the dangers of throwing the bait into the water and ask them to bury it, throw it in the trash, or take it home.

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artificial lures

The artificial lures section is the advanced part of your invasive species training.

fishing lure tackle box

Walk through any outdoor store and you’ll find rows of products made by companies that would enjoy your business. These products include several effective alternatives to live fishing bait, including:

  • Soft Plastic Baits – A wide range of soft plastic baits are now manufactured to imitate all forms of live bait available. Scented options can also help attract fish, but always remember to properly dispose of used plastic baits in the trash and use biodegradable artificial baits whenever possible.
  • Spoons: Fishing lure used to attract fish by reflecting light and moving randomly. They can come in many different shapes, colors and patterns to suit any need.
  • Jigs: a sinker and hook with a soft body to attract fish, perfect to use for single spot jigging
  • Spinners: One or more metal blades that spin while walking in water, light reflects off the blade like a spoon and the vibrations imitate small fish.
  • Artificial Fly – Usually used in fly fishing, but can be used in other forms of fishing, it is constructed by fly tying, where fur, feathers and threats are tied to a hook to imitate a fly’s natural food source .
  • Crankbaits – A popular type of hard-bodied fishing lure. They are often designed to imitate swimming minnows.

Learn more about these unwanted invaders and how you can help exclude them from Ontario parks and protected areas at the Invasive Species Centre.