Planning your next Ontario fishing trip has never been easier thanks to an amazing free application, created by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), called Fish ON-Line. And it is jam-packed with absolutely everything you need to know for your next fishing trip. So, what do you say, let’s take a run through it?
When you enter the site, you will see a map of Ontario and a column down the left-hand side with a number of headings. The first one is pretty obvious and allows you to buy your fishing license. The Create Stocking List, on the other hand, is super useful if you are planning to fish for a stocked species like brook trout, brown trout, chinook salmon, or splake and want you can create a list of lakes.
You can do it by OMNRF District, Fisheries Management Zone, or even within the radius of a specific address. So, if you’re staying at a hotel, motel, fishing resort, or your friend’s house, you can enter the address and a search radius of say, 25, 50, or 100-kilometres/miles and you will see every one of the 400,000 lakes in the province that matches your criteria. How cool is that?
But, trust me, we’re only getting started. Your stocking list will also show you how many fish have been planted each year over the past several years so you can gauge their relative size and number. Here is a partial list of the stocked brook trout lakes in Sault Ste. Marie District, for example.
Now, let’s close up the Create Stocking List folder and look immediately below it, where you will see a magnifying glass beside the heading Search By. This is the part of the tool that I find most useful because it lets you search by Waterbody Name, Fish Species, Stocked Waterbody, even GPS Coordinates. And it lets you define your search area once again, by the distance from an address, Fisheries Management Zone, or MNRF District.
So, let’s say that we’re heading to Parry Sound District and we’d like to fish for walleye. Here is what Fish-ON Line presents us with. See all the red fish symbols on the map, as well as the list down the left-hand column? These are the lakes within Parry Sound District that have walleye in them. And if you click on either the map symbol or the lake name in the column it will take you to a new map of the lake with all of the fisheries information displayed. It is quite amazing.
Better still, if you click back to the map page, you can define, under Information, the specific parameters that you wish to highlight. Including fish sanctuaries, access points (boat launches), even a contour map of the lake if it exists, so you can see the layout and identify potential fishing spots. You can even view the background as imagery or a topographic map.
That is what I’ve done here, so you can see what the tool tells you about Whitestone Lake — a pretty little walleye lake in Parry Sound District that I fished many years ago. In addition to learning about its basic size and depth, notice the active headings highlighted in blue at the bottom of the left-hand column. If you click on any one of them you will learn everything you need to know about the highlighted topic, including safe fish consumption advisories and species-specific zone regulation differences.
But I’ve saved my favourite part of Fish-ON Line for last. See the heading Broad-Scale Fisheries Management Bulletin? When you click on it you are presented with the results of the OMNRF’s survey data that tells you about the composition of the fish population in Whitestone Lake — everything from pumpkin seeds to brown bullheads — including the maximum, minimum, and average size of the walleye and smallmouth bass that were captured in the OMNRF’s nets. So you can pick and choose lakes to fish based on the population of a particular species, its trophy potential, or both. Fish-ON Line is a mighty impressive tool that will help you plan your next successful Ontario fishing trip.