This year, “trout” yourself to a catch and release fishing adventure in York Durham Headwaters (YDH)! We caught up with award-winning local outdoor writer Wil Wegman for insider tips on getting the most out of catch and release fishing.
When he was in kindergarten, Wegman caught his first big fish from the shores of one of Lake Simcoe’s many rivers; he’s been hooked ever since. He believes that catch and release fishing is the greatest personal contribution an angler can make to the sustainability of the lakes they visit.
Catch and release fishing means anglers return fish to the water for a variety of reasons—such as being too small to keep or putting anglers over the legal number of fish they can catch. It’s an environmentally friendly practice that allows anglers to enjoy the sport, while maintaining the ecosystem of Ontario’s lakes. “You can keep some fish for dinner and release the rest,” says Wegman. “Or fish for the joy of the sport and release all you catch.”
The trick to catch and release is to handle fish properly and return them to the water quickly. When you’ve caught a fish, keep it in the water as much as possible. Wet your hands before touching the fish and avoid touching its eyes and gills. If you want to take a picture of the fish, hold it horizontally (never vertically!) or better yet, keep it in the water. Use pliers to take the hook out and lower the fish gently back into the water.
Want to take on the famous Lake Simcoe? Sibbald Point Provincial Park is a popular destination for anglers who want to catch and release from the lake’s abundant supply of lake trout, bass, whitefish, pike, yellow pickerel and jumbo perch from land or by boat.
If you need a serious nature fix, visit the tranquil ponds at the Glen Haffy Conservation Area, which is just a short drive from Toronto! Stocked with rainbow trout from the on-site fish hatchery, the fishing ponds are a popular draw for anglers in the region.
There are plenty of fishing spots to discover in Durham, including the region’s many streams, Lake Ontario, Lake Scugog and Frenchman’s Bay! Visit the region’s website to explore their complete list of fishing locations and discover which species you’ll find there.
Catch and release fishing is a family-friendly activity that everyone will enjoy. Wegman recommends bringing a picnic lunch with lots of snacks so nobody gets hangry! He also advises that kids can get distracted by the natural environment and try to catch frogs or minnows. And that’s okay. “Children love these little adventures,” says Wegman. “It will add to the memory of a great fishing trip—regardless of how productive the actual fishing was.”
Remember, when fishing in Ontario, anglers between the ages of 18 and 65 need an outdoors card and a fishing licence—except during licence-free family fishing events! In 2019, these take place on the Mother’s Day weekend (May 11-12), Father’s Day weekend (June 15-16) and Family Fishing Week (June 29 – July 7).
Written by: Erika Cuccaro