We Canadians are known for being polite and we like it that way. Everyone enjoys themselves far more when there’s no conflict to deal with and we respect each others’ right to relax.

Rules of the road and navigating city streets are second nature, but boating etiquette may not be common knowledge to everyone, especially if you’re new to boating. So, we thought we’d provide this helpful outline.

Quick Fact: June 29 - July 7 is National Fishing Week - no license required.


Boating Etiquette On The Water

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Find your own space:

If there’s only one rule from this list that you’re going to remember, this is it!

If there’s an angler in a spot - no matter how much you want to share - leave it be. Imagine waking up at 4am, loading all your gear, launching your boat, and hitting your hotspot just as the sun rises…..only to have another boater post up 10 feet from you.


Don’t be that guy.


Slow Down When Passing:

You’re bound to encounter other boaters on the water. Some will be trolling and some will be anchored. Either way, your waves are not welcome. Cutting lines or disturbing the fish, anchor setup and general sense of relaxation is never a good thing.


Be polite and pass at idle speed.


Give space to shore fishers

The lake is for everyone, including the shoreline. Docks and piers are a popular destination for many anglers, but space is limited. Boating too close to where shore-men fish not only chases away their potential catch, it’s loud and abrasive.


There’s plenty of fish and open water for everyone. Be considerate.


Respect The Law:

There are plenty of laws built around staying safe, which should be strictly adhered to. Other laws are meant to protect the activity that we love. Keeping fish healthy and plentiful is an aspiration that we can all agree to and following the letter of the law is key to ensuring that it comes true.


Two laws that we often don’t realize are;

  • Fish caught by kids (under 18) count towards your limit
  • Catch and possession limits differ from lake to lake and species to species


Stay Green:

Short and simple, leave the water the way you found it. Don’t throw your trash into the lake. Don’t throw your trash on the ground at the boat launch. A big part of fishing is connecting with nature.


Let’s all do our part to make sure it sticks around for awhile,


Fishing Etiquette On The Ice

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Just because the weather is sub-zero doesn’t mean we’ll stop fishing. Every year thousands of Canadians hit the ice to enjoy their favourite pastime. Just like with lake fishing, ice fishing there are both written and unwritten rules to follow to ensure that everyone has a good time.


Get your hut off the ice early

We get it. You want to extend your season as much as you can. But, getting your hut on the ice too early or off the ice too late is the number 1 reason why people fall through the ice. They will, but no one wants to have to rescue you. So do yourself and everyone else a favour and keep tabs on local weather warnings to avoid playing on thin ice.


First Come, First Served

You may have a favourite spot, but you don’t own it. If you hit the ice and find that someone has already set up shop, take a breath and move on. There are plenty of other spots just as good. If you decide to setup your hut nearby, make sure that there’s a minimum of 18m (60 feet) between you and the next guy.


If your preferred space is closer to shore, make sure your hut is 250 from shore if there are houses around. It’s the courteous thing to do.


Mind Your Holes

Chances are you’ll be drilling more than one hole before you find the perfect setup. This is fine - legally you’re allowed to have 2 going at the same time - but make sure you don’t make Swiss cheese out of the ice. There’s no specified distance between holes because the thickness of the ice effects how safely you can drill, but be aware that multiple holes drilled close together is making it more likely to break. Be safe.


It may seem logical to cover your hole so that it freezes quicker, but there is some debate about this. Some will argue that it actually insulates the hole and leaves it open longer. Regardless of which side you agree with, always make sure to mark the hole. Most adults are only risking a soaked leg, but there are kids and pets out there. Help keep them safe.


These are the official unofficial rules. You don’t have to abide by them, but as true Canadians we know you’ll go out of your way to be polite and keep fishing - regardless of the weather - enjoyable for everyone.


As we sign off, we’ll leave you with a few ice-fishing tips to help keep you safe this winter.

Ice Fishing

  • 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


Yours In Boating