Here’s the scenario – you’re miles, MILES away from any sort of civilization. It was an hour and a half plane ride to the lodge. Few other guests, no locals, (there aren’t any) just you and your fishing buddy. You have the entire lake to yourself! The walleye are all but jumping in the boat. The northern pike rotate through the hole, shutting down the walleye bite for a moment, then it fires back up shortly thereafter. It’s warm, sunny and really is the perfect day.
Subtly, you begin to hear the far away hum of a bush plane approaching. It slowly gets louder and in a matter of minutes, you look up to see a Cessna circling you. The plane drifts away, turns tail and touches down on the water. The next thing you know, there are Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Conservation Officers asking questions, looking for licenses, checking your stringers and what you may have packed in your lunch.
I for one, am happy to see these guys – every single time! They fly in to ensure we are all playing by the rules, they are welcomed to stop in, ask the questions they need and ensure our shore lunch fish are legal. We play by the rules and there is a simple reason why. MNR officers have power! A LOT of power. They actually have more power as law enforcement officials than the provincial police force has. They have the ability to confiscate equipment (including boats, tow vehicles, rods, reels and tackle), and, they can detain you.
Don’t get me wrong, these officers are generally fantastic human beings; however, take a look at the scope of the job they have to do. Thousands of square miles to cover by plane, atv, boat and truck. Not always are they approaching people who are adhering to the regulations. They may come across people who aren’t playing nice at all. People who may have been drinking, or are knowingly breaking the law or people who are doing all these things and are sporting hunting rifles. Sometimes in remote regions, their job can be considered quite dangerous at times.
So what are our CO’s looking for? Any violation really, (it is expensive to fly into remote areas) but some of the more common ones are: open alcohol, retained fish within the slot limit, possession of too many fish per angler (remember, for example, you are allowed 2 walleye per day under 19 inches, if you eat 2 walleye at shore lunch and continue fishing, you’re in breach of the regulations.), fishing for species out of season (Fall brook trout) not having your license on your person or angling with more than the permitted number of lines. This is just a short list of some infractions. The fines can be hefty, and as mentioned, you can lose your privileges and equipment. It pays to play by the rules. Though you are in a remote fly-in fish camp, The CO’s know we are there and visit regularly. It really isn’t worth the risk.
Wilderness North ensures all boats are equipped with the legal equipment needed, and can provide personal floatation devices if required. It’s the responsibility of the angler to adhere to all regulations while on the water. The regulations are in place to ensure you have continued quality of excellence while fishing in Ontario. That is part of the reason the fishing is World Class at Wilderness North.