• Vincent Maranda

Ice fishing

Shutterstock Photo by Vladimir Salman

Q. I see fishing shacks in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area on the Lake of Two Mountains. Can I just go on the ice, dig a hole, and start fishing?

A. First, you need a fishing license. Several types of licenses are available at different prices, according to the species of fish or the duration of the planned excursion. You can obtain a license from authorized sales agents, who are usually retailers of hunting and fishing equipment.

The sport fishing license covers one primary angler, the spouse, and any child under the age of 18. The inexpensive rates vary. A typical season permit in our region is $30.13. A season’s length depends on the weather, usually from December 20 to March 20.

A fishing shack is not compulsory but there are retailers that rent them, all equipped with fishing equipment, holes in the ice, heat and access to a designated area.

Others invite ice fishermen to come all equipped. For example between Hudson and Vaudreuil-Dorion at the Lake of Two Mountains, the people plowing the snow off the ice and permitting car access there charge $50 for the season and you can install your own cabin. A reasonable daily access fee is also available. The City of Vaudreuil-Dorion gives access free of charge to the body of water near the skate park on Saint-Charles Avenue. You must buy your own fishing license for those areas and cabins are not provided.

How long the season lasts is dictated primarily by ice safety. This is tricky since there are various ice strengths and qualities. One area may be a foot thick while another spot of ice in the same area may be very dangerous and only be a few inches thick. Wind, underwater currents, and even beavers can keep areas of ice thin. One set of standards published by the Société de Sauvetage recommends four inches of new and transparent ice for walking on the ice and ice fishing, five inches for snowmobiling, and 12 inches for cars.

Sometimes people fall through the ice. You may recall the 2016 story of 71-year-old man ice fishing 500 metres from the shoreline of Pointe de Moulin in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot who fell through the ice and died. The town of Pincourt soon thereafter began informing citizens of ice hazards via electronic billboards.

There are laws other than natural ones that may apply to ice fishing. The Criminal Code stands out in stating that, “Everyone who makes, or causes to be made, an opening in ice that is open to or frequented by the public is under a legal duty to guard it in a manner that is adequate to prevent persons from falling in by accident and is adequate to warn them that the opening exists.” It does not say how to cover up holes but manslaughter charges are theoretically possible.

Some municipalities in Quebec take ice fishing pretty seriously. In the City of Saguenay more than 900 people once assisted a meeting organized by the city and three hunting and fishing associations. They were explaining new rules for installing ice huts, security of vehicles, increased police patrol, and fire extinguisher requirements.

We are fortunate to be near the St. Lawrence Seaway, Ottawa River, and Lake of Two Mountains that are filled with the largest diversity of fish species in the province of Quebec. Safety though is paramount. It’s nice to know the lure of ice fishing is very alive and well and practicing this unique winter activity is a great experience.

Please send your legal questions to editor@yourlocaljournal.ca

Website of law office: vmaranda.com

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