Beginning this January, anglers can welcome the return of a Lake Herring (Cisco) season on Lake Simcoe for the first time in 13 years.
Backed with quality data, strong partnerships and a positive trend in Lake Herring populations, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has re-opened the fishery on Lake Simcoe.
“This is something our members have wanted for many years. It has taken patience and persistence to achieve, but in the end it is an excellent example of OFAH collaboration with MNRF and other stakeholders to provide increased fishing opportunities for OFAH members and the entire angling community,” OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMille said.
Lake Simcoe is the fourth largest inland lake in the province providing some of the most sought after angling opportunities during all four seasons. But in past decades the lake has faced environmental issues leading to poor water quality and degraded coldwater habitat. The MNRF closed the Lake Herring season on Lake Simcoe in 2001 as the population was in steady decline.
Government and non-government groups came together to improve the water quality by advancing sewage treatments, restricting livestock from tributaries and reducing soil erosion and urban runoff and fisheries data started showing a steady increase in Lake Herring numbers. The OFAH and other members of the Lake Simcoe Fisheries Stakeholder Committee asked the MNRF to collect the necessary data to determine whether an open Lake Herring fishery could be sustainable. Although hesitant in the beginning, the MNRF has dedicated significant time and resources to collecting this data during the last few years, which shows its commitment to providing an evidence-based decision.
This is an excellent example of how the OFAH, anglers and fishery managers can work together to determine when and how to create or restore angling opportunities. It is also exciting news for Ontario anglers who will now be able to target, catch and keep Lake Herring while enjoying recreational angling on Lake Simcoe.
With 100,000 members, supporters and subscribers and 725 member clubs across Ontario, the OFAH is the VOICE of anglers and hunters and Ontario’s largest and oldest fish and wildlife conservation organization. Go to www.ofah.org, visit us on Facebook (ofah.org/facebook) and follow us on Twitter (@OFAH).