Ice fishing offers a whole new dimension to those who love fishing, whether beginner or avid. Among the favourite spots (according to those who fish in Chatham-Kent) are Mitchell's Bay and the Thames River, though we have heard of many die hard anglers braving the elements on Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.
Don't have a license but want to try it out?
Annually in February, there is one week designated in Ontario as a License Free Fishing Weekend. Learn more here.
What do you need before you hit the ice in Chatham-Kent?
- a valid fishing licence (e.g., sport or conservation)
- to know and follow the rules when using fishing lines
- to register your ice hut – only in Fisheries Management Zones 9-12 and 14-20
- to clearly display your registration number on the outside of your ice hut
- to remove your ice hut on a certain date - depending on where your hut is located
For a complete list, click here.
How can I make sure I am safe on the ice?
The province of Ontario has website page dedicated to answering all of your questions. We encourage you to visit this page before hitting any ice, and have provided a basic list below. If you are unsure if the ice is safe, you are advised to stay off of it.
- Watch for uneven ice
- ice doesn't freeze at a uniform thickness
- near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice farther out, especially at the start of the winter season
- check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you move farther out
- ice that formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice
- clear blue ice is the strongest
- white or opaque ice is much weaker
- stay away from ice that looks honeycombed, common during thaws or in the spring
Driving on ice
- be careful when driving snowmobiles or vehicles over frozen lakes or rivers
- snowmobiles need at least 20 centimetres (8 inches) of clear blue ice
- light vehicles need 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more
- double the thickness if the ice is white or opaque
- heavy snow on a frozen lake or river slows down the freezing process
Before you venture out
- check ice conditions with local ice hut operators or other anglers
- let others know where you're planning to fish and when you plan to return
- wear appropriate clothing and equipment for safety and comfort
Please note, Chatham-Kent Tourism does not recommend nor endorse one area over another. Do not access any point that is considered private property, and please only enter where public access is granted.
Know Before You Go
A valid Outdoors Card is required to fish in Chatham-Kent. For the location of the licence issuer nearest you, visit ontario.ca/outdoorscard or call 1-800-387-7011 or 1-800-667-1940. Complete Ontario fishing regulation information can be found here. *In Chatham-Kent, you can purchase a license at most Canadian Tire locations, though it's best to call ahead to confirm. It's often wise to apply for your card before coming so you have it on hand. You can apply online as well.
Fish without a licence days
Four times a year, Canadian residents can fish in Ontario without buying a fishing licence, during:
- Family Fishing Weekend in February
- Mother's Day Weekend in May
- Father's Day Weekend in June
- Family Fishing Week in July