Q: I was ice fishing on Lake Simcoe and a hut operator had set up more than 20 hunts over 600 to 700 yards on a known hotspot. I set up on the same hotspot close to some of his unoccupied huts. The operator came over and said I couldn’t fish there and threatened to cut my lines. I recognize that operators need to make a living, but that day many of those huts were unoccupied. I purposely chose a location away from his clients, but close to empty huts and he tried to lay claim to all of that area by having so many huts spread over a large area.
Do hut operators have any legal claim to areas on the ice, and what are my rights regarding where I can fish?
Steve Wickstead, Barrie
A: Fisheries resources in Ontario are a public resource. Which means there is a public right to fish in waters (or ice) of Lake Simcoe. Fish hut operators have no legal grounds to prohibit fishing near the ice huts. Additionally, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 prohibits interference with lawful fishing by tampering with any thing used for fishing, or by placing oneself in a position that hinders or prevents fishing or engaging in an activity that disturbs or is likely to disturb fish for the purpose of interfering.
ANSWER BY: Brenda Koenig,
Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNDMNRF
Originally published in the Jan.-Feb. 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.