Fish sanctuaries proposed on Opinicon and Charleston lakes

by Steve Galea | June 7, 2023

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is proposing to create temporary fish sanctuaries on Opinicon and Charleston Lakes in eastern Ontario for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The proposed sanctuaries will support bass nesting and population recruitment research which has been conducted over the last three decades.

The proposal, listed on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO), is open for public comment until midnight on June 19. To comment visit and search ERO Number 019-6728.

The changes

The proposed changes are as follows:

No fishing – April 15 to July 10 (in the 2024 and 2025 fishing season) on:

  • Opinicon Lake – South Crosby Township – Queens University Biology Station to Eightacre Island
  • Opinicon Lake – South Crosby and Bedford Townships – Deadlock Bay and “OPOC” Bay
  • Charleston Lake – Lansdowne Township – Sheep, Democrat, Fisher, Hogback, Prospect, Tar, Victoria, and Rockhouse Islands
  • Charleston Lake – Lansdowne and Escott Townships – Sand Bay and Sally’s Hole Bay, including Browns Island.

Research from Fisheries Conservation Foundation, Carleton University, The University of Illinois, The University of Manitoba and Queen’s University has shown that pre-season bass fishing (either intentional or while targeting other fish species) and fishing for nesting bass once the season is open, has had a detrimental impact on population recruitment in several bass fisheries.

During the proposed closures, researchers intend to use spring-time bass spawning sanctuaries on both lakes to determine the level of improvement in reproduction and resulting population recruitment in comparison to unprotected areas. They will also study the relative size of sanctuary area needed to provide for sustainable population recruitment for each waterbody. They will also try to determine the area required to compensate for the negative impacts of pre-season fishing for nesting bass and collect data on population monitoring indicators which will be compared to historical data collected for each lake during the 1990s. Support for the proposed temporary regulation changes was provided by the FMZ 18 Advisory Council and affected lake associations.

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