Get out your rods, it’s National Fishing Week! Starting June 30 and running until July 8, National Fishing Week is dedicated to the joys of getting out on the water in the hopes of landing a big one.
It shouldn’t actually be that surprising that Canada has an entire week dedicated to fishing. After all, recent surveys shows that our country is home to up to two million lakes, plus more rivers and streams than you could count (not to mention that we border on three different oceans). All of that equals a whole lot of fishing opportunities. Canadians fish in the winter, drilling holes in heavy crusts of ice, and in the summer, sitting lakeside with a beer in hand. We fish on boats and on shore, with rods and with nets, for tiny panfish and massive pike.
So in honour of this special week, we’ve compiled a list of ten fishing facts that even the most avid angler might not know.
1. Most fish caught recreationally are released
Fishing isn’t always done for food, and it doesn’t mean you have to kill a fish. In fact, about 2/3 of fish that are caught are released, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Releasing big fish, in particular, is a matter of fishing etiquette and very strongly recommended by the fishing community. Need some guidance on how to do it right? Check out our tips to catch-and-release fishing.
2. It’s illegal to leave your ice-fishing hole uncovered
Perhaps the most hardcore fishers of all, ice fishers have their own sets of rules to follow, including that they have to
register their ice huts. But even hardcore ice fishers may not realize it’s actually illegal to leave their ice-fishing holes uncovered. The law doesn’t mention ice fishing specifically, but says that anyone “who makes or causes to be made an opening in ice that is open to or frequented by the public is under a legal duty to guard it,” and that includes ice fishing holes, even though they’re often too small for a person to fall through.
3. Eight percent of Canadians fish recreationally
Nearly one in ten Canadians engaged in recreational angling in 2017, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. By comparison, 4.4% of adult Canadians play hockey.
4. Ontario has the most anglers of any province
A survey by Fisheries and Oceans Canada found that there were more active resident anglers in Ontario than in any other province, with Quebec in second place. In 2010, there were 924,549 anglers in Ontario, and 711,610 in Quebec.
5. There are four-metre long sturgeon living in BC’s Fraser River
Over the past few years, people have caught some truly massive sturgeon in the Fraser River. These gigantic fish weigh hundreds of kilograms (in 2012, one was caught that weighed 500 kg), and are estimated to be over 100 years old. Generally, people who catch these sturgeon release them again into the river.
6. Walleye are the most commonly caught angling fish in Canada
When you think of fishing in Canada, your mind probably goes to salmon or pike. But walleye, a large freshwater fish native to most of Canada, is actually the most commonly caught fish, making up nearly one in four fish caught by anglers.
7. Some fish build nests
As part of an elaborate mating ritual, male sticklebacks (many of which live in Ontario) build nests out of grass, leaves, and twigs. They then “dance” to try to lure females to the nest to release their eggs, after which the male chases the female away and fertilizes the eggs.
8. There is such thing as a “salmon cannon”
As you may know, each year, wild salmon return from the ocean to swim up rivers and streams and return to their spawning grounds. However, increasingly, human-made structures like dams have made it difficult for them to get there. To solve the problem, someone has invented a “salmon cannon” to move the fish past barriers. The device sucks the salmon into a tube, then propels it over the dam and deposits back in the water on the other side.
9. The world’s largest rainbow trout was caught in Saskatchewan — but it’s controversial
In 2009, a Saskatchewan man caught a 48-pound trout in Lake Deifenbaker. It was the world record holder, but some thought it shouldn’t count. The trout was probably one of those that had escaped from a fish farm nine years earlier, where the fish had been genetically engineered to grow to huge sizes. The giant fish have three chromosomes which make them infertile and cause extra growth, which led some people to say the catch shouldn’t count, even though the International Game Fish Association allowed it.
10. During National Fishing Week, Ontarians can fish without a license
In Ontario, a license is required by all Canadians between 18 and 64 years of age, but during National Fishing Week, anyone can fish license-free. This is one of only two license-free fishing periods per year, the other one being Family Fishing Weekend in February.