Zone 10 Anglers Unhappy With The New Regulation Changes

The Ontario Outdoor Recreational Association (OntORA) and anglers were disappointed that the FMZ  Zone 10 regulations passed effective January 1, 2024.  We had contacted the MNRF Minister months ago with our concerns over the whole process and again on November 30th when we asked Minister Smith not to approve the draft regulations that the FMZ 10 council approved.

The whole process lacked transparency. There were no open houses held. The draft changes were posted October 12th 2023 on the ERO environmental registry site only. This site is not user friendly.  It was not even in the Ontario Wildlife News that gets sent to those who submitted emails to the MNR.

The FMZ 10 MNRF lead on the council stated that the FMZ council canvassed the public.  Well, if you look at the makeup of the FMZ council you be the judge on who really got canvassed.  We have grave concerns over the make-up of the FMZ Zone 10 Council.  Anglers in Zone 10 are upset with the changes approved by the Zone 10 Advisory Council.  We submitted several pages of petitions supporting changing the Lake Trout limit to two fish any size and to keep the current Pickerel limit in place, 4 fish with one over 46 cm.  Of 26 groups on the FMZ council, there are only five angler clubs represented.  Do you really believe those other groups would support anglers?  We do not believe anglers were properly represented on the council.

We were also very disappointed to hear the OFAH representative did not support the angler clubs.

One of the reasons in the Ministry draft plan to keep the current regulation for Lake Trout was “Generally, the public has adjusted to the regulation”.  The public has never adjusted to this. The MNRF have no clue what anglers want or do they even care?

Below is the committee makeup posted in the Management Fisheries Plan for Zone 10.

Current and past affiliation of FMZ 10 Advisory Council Members:

• Algoma Fish and Game Club

• Anglers at Large

• Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre (A/OFRC)

• Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation

• Baitfish Industry – Baitfish Advisory Committee for the North (BACN)

• Brunswick House First Nation

• Fisheries Retail

• French River Stewardship Council

• Garden River First Nation

• Local Citizen’s Committee

• Manitoulin Island Fisheries Advisory Committee

• Matachewan First Nation

• Mattagami First Nation

• Métis Nation of Ontario, Land and Resources

• Métis Nation of Ontario, Region 3

• Métis Nation of Ontario, Region 4

• Métis Nation of Ontario, Region 5

• Mississauga First Nation

• Muskies Canada Incorporated (MCI)

• Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO)

• Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH)

• Resource Based Tourism

• Sault Naturalists – Ontario Nature

• St. Joseph Island Hunters and Anglers Association

• Wahnapitae First Nation

• Whitefish River First Nation

The MNRF is relying on scientific modelling versus actual field data from several lakes. The MNRF use Broad Scale Monitoring (BSM).  They lack the manpower to do actual field assessments on multiple lakes.  Some employees in the Ministry agree its time to do away with the slot size for Lake Trout.

It has been 14 years since the Lake Trout regulations were changed.  It is time to change it to two fish with no slot size.  We are not asking for the limit to go back to three fish.  As anglers, we know the Lake Trout have rebounded.  The MNR stated this in their October 12, 2022 draft plan.   Eliminating the slot size vastly reduces the mortality issues.  Anglers will be able to eliminate releasing stressed and handled fish and allow them the ability to go home with two fish.  For the most part anglers do release larger mature fish.  Further education here would further benefit that.

We held our Annual General Membership meeting in May of this year and our membership wants to see the lake trout limit moved to 2 fish and no slot size.  Anglers in Zone 10 who signed the petition also want the regulations changed to reflect no slot size limit.  (Change current recreational angling regulation to no size limit. Season: • Open January 1 – Labour Day, Catch and Possession Limits: • Sport Fishing License – 2 • Conservation License – 1) Note: No slot size. 

Our members and anglers in Zone 10 are also asking that the previous limit for Walleye be put back in place ; four fish with one over 46 cm.   Again more education on releasing bigger mature fish.  For the better part most anglers today release the bigger fish.  The Pickerel population in our observations are not in jeopardy.

For Brook Trout the draft plan suggests no live or dead bait or leeches in natural Brook Trout lakes.  The MNR doesn’t even know all the natural Brook Trout lakes that exists today.  It seems the Council just doesn’t want us using minnows or catching fish.  The Advisory Council suggests in the draft plan that the illegal dumping of bait from anglers is the reason.  Anglers are tired of the MNRF always blaming us.  With the cost of minnows today anglers take their minnows home and put the minnows into a pail for the next weekend.  This proposal was in the draft plan and slipped into the 2020 Bait Strategy Plan.  We had also asked the Minister to revoke the 2020 Bait Regulations. Anglers have to now purchase bait when they are fishing in another bait zone.  There is over 1100 bait harvesters who have very little oversight placed on them.

The MNR also needs to start stocking more lakes with Lake Trout, Brook Trout and Splake to give more opportunities for angler’s and take pressure off some Lake Trout lakes.

In 1988 when licenses were introduced, anglers were told it would enhance the fishery by increased stocking and hiring additional enforcement officers.  Well has that happened?  Have you gone to a local MNR office lately? No staff available when you get there.

Remember the Lake Trout limits of 7 then 5, 3 and now what we have today is 2 with a slot size.  Speckle Trout were 15 at one time, and then 7 and currently 5.

Make no mistake OntORA is not there to deplete our natural resources nor is any other angler.  We push conservation efforts such as releasing larger fish and taking only what you will eat with regard to fishing limits.

Look at the number of Provincial parks closed. Obatanga, Shoals and Kenny Lake to name a few.  You can’t even launch your boat at Shoals to get into Little Wawa Lake. Anglers must use a smaller boat and go down the creek.

For some reason anglers and hunters seem to be ignored and we are the ones paying license fees and taxes.   It’s time anglers and hunters in Ontario had a stronger voice and this can only be done if anglers and hunters vote strategically together.  Contact your local MPP and let them know how you feel.   If there are no changes to the regulations in 2024/25 then in the next provincial election, we need to vote for anybody but the current government.  Is there really any other choice? You decide. said, John Kallio , President of OntORA (Ontario Recreational Association)

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