Ontario’s free Family Fishing Week in July has been extended an extra seven days, and will now conclude on Sunday, July 19.
Until then, Canadians are allowed to fish license-free in Ontario waters without the mandatory fishing-version outdoor card. After the 19th, for the rest of the year, residents 18-64 must purchase a valid license.
“It’s meant to get families out to fish with their kids,” said Mike Dean. “And that was the whole purpose of our fishing derby.”
Tillsonburg’s Mike and Rosemary Dean, organizers of the sixth annual FREE Tillsonburg Family Fishing Derby at Lake Lisgar, had planned to hold their fishing derby on Saturday, July 4th.
Last year more than 300 children, teens, and adults took part, despite the morning thunderstorms. The Deans had hoped this year’s derby, which has seen increased participation in successive years, would surpass that number.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its physical distancing restrictions made that scenario impossible.
“There is not enough room by the boat launch to keep participants at a safe social distance for the registration, distribution of prizes and food because of the volume of people,” said Rosemary. “The safety of all the volunteers and families takes precedence during the pandemic – we’re not going to risk anyone’s safety if we can’t 100 per cent guarantee social distancing.
“We would like to thank all of the sponsors who support the Free Tillsonburg Family Fishing Derby by providing the prizes so every child is a winner.
“And come back next year for the 2021 derby,” Rosemary smiled.
So… no fishing derby tales for 2020. But that does not mean you cannot fish at Lake Lisgar – fishing is
allowed, both from the shore, docks and on the water (no motorized boats).
“If you want to go out and fish, fill your tackle box, whatever you want to do – as long as it’s on town-own land, don’t go into someone’s backyard to fish,” said Mike.
“We encourage you to go out and fish. Just remember you have to have a fishing license after the 19th. And remember to social distance. We just couldn’t, with the current stipulations, do (the fishing derby) successfully.”
“If anybody does need (fishing gear) they can reach out to us,” said Rosemary. “We do have supplies and stuff.”
Mike and Rosemary, winners of the Tillsonburg Knights of Columbus We All Win early bird prize of $1,000, have committed that money to next year’s fishing derby – making up for a funding shortfall due the withdrawal of support from Kids, Cops & Canadian Tire Fishing Days.
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is sponsoring a colouring contest on their website (ontariofamilyfishing.com). Click on the link for a pdf that you can print. Your children will have a chance to win a fishing prize package. Deadline is July 31.
There have been three earlier Ontario Family Fishing weekends – Feb. 15-17, May 9-10 and June 20-21.