Scouting with Fish ON-LIne

Have you ever had a lake that you drive by frequently on the side of the road or the highway and wondered which species of fish live in it, if any?
If you like to fish, you can probably think of a body of water that you know nothing about but have always wondered, what’s in it?
Several years back ,the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources made a website available to the public called Fish ON-Line that has a great amount of information available for anglers.
It can be found easily with a quick Google search and you can get to work, learning all about any body of water in the province.
I have mentioned Fish ON-Line before in past columns but it’s been a while.
My favourite feature on the site is the lake list, where you can find a lake on a map, click an icon associated with it and see a listing of the documented fish species in that particular body of water.
You instantly know if that lake you were wondering about has walleye, bass, crappie or maybe even lake trout.
There are a bunch of other great tools on the site that can help you prepare for your next fishing trip as well.
If you haven’t bought a license yet, you can find that.
You can look up access points on different bodies of water, fish sanctuaries are listed so you can avoid those areas at certain times of the year, you can see lake specific fishing regulations and you look at depth contours for many waters.
Across Northwest Ontario we have a number of stocked trout lakes.
Some have rainbow trout, some have splake and some have brook trout.
These stocked lakes were basically bodies of water without a predator fish population so new fishing opportunities have been created for a species that we don’t naturally have in our region.
These stocked trout grow quickly and they don’t spawn so it’s a good scenario for anglers.
They are great to eat and it’s encouraged for anglers to take a few to eat.
On the Fish ON-Line site, you can see easily see which lakes in the region are stocked as well as the stocking records for these lakes so you can have an idea of the fish numbers available in each lake.
If they have been stocked recently you can expect to catch numbers of smaller fish and if they are not stocked as recently you may not see as many numbers but you have a good shot at catching bigger fish.
I have caught brook trout in the two to four pound range in some of the lakes north of Kenora over the years.
There are other features on the website to play with as well, including different map views.
I have used the aerial maps can help make a plan for getting into remote back lakes.
If you like to fish and especially if you like to explore new water, you can probably find what you need to plan your next outing on here.
My hats off to OMNRF for putting together a great product here for Ontario anglers.
I have spent hours exploring on this site, if you haven’t looked at it before, you should check it out.

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