How to Obtain Your Ontario Fishing License A Step by Step Guide.jpg

How to Obtain Your Ontario Fishing License: A Step-by-Step Guide

Fishing is a beloved pastime in the beautiful province of Ontario, known for its pristine lakes, rivers, and abundant fish populations. However, before you can cast your line and reel in that trophy catch, you need to obtain a valid Ontario fishing license. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of getting your fishing license, ensuring you’re ready to legally enjoy Ontario’s world-class fishing opportunities.

Why Do You Need an Ontario Fishing License?

Fishing licenses are required by law in Ontario for several important reasons:

  1. Conservation: License fees help fund conservation efforts, fish stocking programs, and habitat restoration projects that maintain healthy fish populations for future generations of anglers to enjoy.
  2. Regulation: Licenses allow the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to regulate fishing activities, set catch limits, and enforce rules to prevent overfishing and protect vulnerable species.
  3. Access: Your fishing license grants you the right to legally fish in Ontario’s public waters, which are managed by the province for the benefit of all residents and visitors.

Who Needs an Ontario Fishing License?

Most anglers in Ontario need to obtain a fishing license before they can legally fish. The specific requirements depend on your age and residency status:

  • Ontario Residents: If you are between the ages of 18 and 64 and have lived in the province for at least 6 months, you need an Ontario resident fishing license.
  • Canadian Residents: If you live in another province or territory but want to fish in Ontario, you need a Canadian resident fishing license.
  • Non-Residents: Visitors from outside Canada who are 18 years or older need a non-resident fishing license to fish in Ontario.

There are a few exceptions to these requirements. You do not need a fishing license in Ontario if you are:

  • Under 18 years old
  • 65 years or older
  • An active member or veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces
  • A member of an Indigenous community exercising a treaty right to fish

Step 1: Get an Outdoors Card

Before you can purchase an Ontario fishing license, you need to obtain an Outdoors Card. This plastic identification card is valid for 3 calendar years and is required to buy most fishing and hunting licenses in the province.

To get your Outdoors Card, you can:

  1. Apply online through the Ontario government’s Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service website
  2. Visit a participating ServiceOntario location or license issuer in person

When applying for your Outdoors Card, you will need to provide:

  • Your legal name, date of birth, and contact information
  • Proof of residency (e.g., driver’s license, utility bill)
  • Payment for the Outdoors Card fee (currently $8.57 for a 3-year card)

Once your application is processed, you will receive your physical Outdoors Card in the mail. You can use the temporary confirmation number provided at the time of purchase to buy your fishing license while waiting for your card to arrive.

Step 2: Choose Your Fishing License Type

Ontario offers two main types of fishing licenses: Sport Fishing and Conservation Fishing. The key difference between them is the catch and possession limits for certain fish species.

  • Sport Fishing License: Allows you to catch and keep the maximum legal limit of fish. This is the most popular option for anglers who plan to keep some of their catch.
  • Conservation Fishing License: Has reduced catch and possession limits to promote the sustainable harvest of fish populations. This license is a good choice for catch-and-release anglers or those who only plan to keep a few fish.

Consider your fishing goals and preferences when deciding which license type is right for you. Keep in mind that the Conservation Fishing License is slightly less expensive than the Sport Fishing License.

Step 3: Select Your License Duration

Ontario fishing licenses are available for different durations to accommodate both residents and visitors:

  • 1-Year License: Valid from January 1st to December 31st of the year purchased. This is the most cost-effective option for anglers who plan to fish regularly throughout the year.
  • 3-Year License: Valid for 3 calendar years from the date of purchase. This convenient option allows you to align your fishing license with your Outdoors Card renewal.
  • 8-Day License: Valid for 8 consecutive days from the date of purchase. This short-term license is popular among visitors or those planning a fishing trip of a week or less.
  • 1-Day License: Valid for a single day of fishing. This option is perfect for spontaneous fishing outings or trying out the sport. Note that a 1-Day License does not require an Outdoors Card.

Choose the license duration that best fits your fishing plans and budget. Remember that all fishing licenses, regardless of duration, expire on December 31st of the year they are valid for.

Step 4: Purchase Your Fishing License

With your Outdoors Card in hand and your license type and duration selected, you’re ready to buy your Ontario fishing license. You have several convenient options:

  1. Online: Visit the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service website to purchase your license securely with a credit card. You can print your license summary immediately or save a digital copy to your smartphone.
  2. In-Person: Go to a participating ServiceOntario location, license issuer, or outdoor retailer (e.g., Canadian Tire, Bass Pro Shops) to buy your license. You will receive a printed license summary on the spot.
  3. By Phone: Call the automated licensing line at 1-800-288-1155 to purchase a 1-year or 3-year license using your Outdoors Card number and a credit card.

When buying your fishing license, you will need to provide:

  • Your Outdoors Card number
  • Proof of residency (for Ontario and Canadian residents)
  • Payment for the license fee (varies by license type and duration)

After completing your purchase, make sure to carefully review your license summary for accuracy. Keep your license and Outdoors Card with you whenever you go fishing, as conservation officers may ask to see them to verify your eligibility to fish.

Step 5: Know the Fishing Regulations

Before heading out on your fishing adventure, take some time to familiarize yourself with Ontario’s fishing regulations. These rules are in place to ensure the sustainable management of fish populations and fair access for all anglers.

Key regulations to be aware of include:

  • Catch Limits: Each fish species has a daily catch and possession limit based on your license type. Respect these limits to avoid penalties and help maintain healthy fish stocks.
  • Seasons: Some fish species have specific open and closed seasons that vary by zone. Make sure you know when it’s legal to fish for your target species in the area you plan to visit.
  • Size Restrictions: Certain fish must be within a designated size range to be legally kept. Undersized or oversized fish must be released immediately.
  • Bait and Tackle: There are restrictions on the use of live bait and certain fishing techniques in some waters to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect fish populations.

You can find the complete fishing regulations, including zone-specific rules, in the annual Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary. Pick up a free copy wherever licenses are sold, or view the digital version on the Ontario government website.


Obtaining your Ontario fishing license is a simple and straightforward process that grants you access to some of the best freshwater fishing in the world. By following these steps and staying informed about the regulations, you can enjoy a memorable and rewarding fishing experience while contributing to the conservation of Ontario’s precious aquatic resources.

So what are you waiting for? Get your Outdoors Card, buy your fishing license, and start planning your next angling adventure in Ontario’s great outdoors!

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