Residents of Ontario can fish without a licence this Family Day Weekend, from February 16 to 18, and South Nation Conservation (SNC) is encouraging families from across its 4,384 square-kilometer jurisdiction in Eastern Ontario to get fishing.

Locally, the South Nation River is a popular destination for recreational ice fishing; it is 175 kilometres long, beginning north of Brockville and empties into the Ottawa River near Plantagenet, and houses as many as 72 species of fish.

“We ask anglers to follow best practices,” says John Mesman, SNC’s Communications Lead. “Always dump your bait buckets onto the ice, pick up after yourselves, and release fish back into the river as soon as possible when practicing catch-and-release.”

SNC reminds residents to stay safe while on the river; ice should be at least 15 to 20 centimetres thick and clear blue in colour. Avoid fishing near water control structures as ice thickness may vary. Furthermore, it is recommended to dress warmly and wear a floatation device.

For more information on ice hut registration and best practices, visit:

For those who are less fond of the cold, fishing without a license is also permitted on Mother’s Day Weekend in May as well as Father’s Day Weekend and during Family Fishing Week in June.

Several of SNC’s Conservation Areas are outfitted with accessible docks, boat launches, and offer large outcroppings of rock, making them perfect for fishing when parks open in spring and docks are put back in place.

“We’re excited about these new recreational fishing opportunities for the residents across our 16-member municipalities,” adds Mesman. “We encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the local environment.”