Fishing is a timeless activity that appeals to people of all ages and levels of experience. It connects friends and family—across generations—and is a fun way to build memories that last a lifetime.
But if you’ve never gone fishing, you might wonder where to begin. That’s why we put together this handy guide to fishing in beautiful York Durham Headwaters (YDH)!
Licence to gill
First thing’s first—if you’re between the ages of 18 and 65, you will need both an outdoors card and a licence to fish in Ontario. You can purchase an outdoors card and fishing licence online, by telephone (1-800-288-1155), at a participating ServiceOntario location (search “outdoors” or “fishing”) or at a licence issuer. If you are under 18 or over 65, bring a government-issued piece of identification that includes your name and date of birth whenever you go fishing.
From gear to eternity
Once licencing is covered, you’ll need to think about gear. Buy your own equipment, if you’d like—an inexpensive rod and reel with live bait and a bobber will get you off to a good start. Or check out the province’s free TackleShare program, which lends basic fishing gear to kids and novice anglers. Borrow equipment at many provincial parks and conservation authorities or find a loaner site here!
Learn the bass-ics (for free!)
If you have absolutely zero fishing experience, consider taking the provincial Learn to Fish program. The two-hour lesson combines practical teaching with supervised, hands-on fishing for people of all ages. An experienced instructor will teach you how to rig, bait and cast a fishing rod. You’ll learn how to identify and catch local fish species safely and sustainably. Everything you’ll need for the lesson is provided, including a fishing rod, reel and bait, a fishing licence for the day, and a lifejacket. In YDH, Learn to Fish is offered at Darlington Provincial Park, Sibbald Point Provincial Park and Heart Lake Conservation Park[ from mid-June to late August.
School the small fry
When fishing with children, make it fun! Encourage kids to try new skills and techniques, no matter how awkward it might feel at first. As they progress, they’ll become more confident in their abilities. Model patience and cooperation and work together to solve problems as they come up. Whether you’re fishing from shore or on a boat, set a good example. Talk to children about the rules and regulations and be sure to follow them. Make good use of the fish you keep and release the rest!
Scale up on safety
Like all fun activities, fishing does carry some risks. Be safe and protect yourself from the elements by packing hats (wide brim is best), sunscreen and insect repellent. Watch the weather, and pack in your gear at the first sign of a thunderstorm. Every member of your party should wear a life jacket, even when fishing from shore. Bring a First Aid kit, just in case, and be sure to wear waterproof boots or shoes you don’t mind getting wet (they WILL get wet!) Remember to avoid horseplay near the shore and on a boat, and do not consume alcohol or other intoxicants while fishing.
Written by: Erika Cuccaro