The annual spring turkey season is finally here, on both sides of the river, and gobbler enthusiasts are out in search of elusive beards and spurs.
The glorious gobbler has evolved into one of our most prolific game species, and spring turkey season is an activity enjoyed by thousands in Ontario, Quebec and beyond. Turkey enthusiasts wanting to partake in this popular spring hunt need be aware of the rules before heading afield in search of their quarry and regulations vary, depending on your province.
In Ontario, it is illegal to pursue turkey within 400 meters of bait unless the location has been bait-free for one week. Bait is generally considered to be corn, wheat, oats, or other feed which may attract gobblers, or even an imitation of such feed. Crops and grain stacked in accordance with normal farming practices are not considered bait. Ontario hunters may purchase a maximum of two spring ‘bearded’ turkey tags, so long as they are not harvested on the same day. Wild Turkey season in Ontario opens April 25th and hunting is restricted to half an hour before sunrise until 7 p.m. For more information on Ontario’s spring turkey hunt: https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-hunting-regulations-summary/wild-turkey#section-0
Quebec’s spring wild turkey season kicks-off April 29th for most zones across the river and runs until May 23rd. Only bearded birds (Toms and Jakes) may be taken during the spring season. Quebec residents require a turkey-training certificate offered by the Federation of Angler’s and Hunters to pursue wild gobblers. Baiting of wild turkey within 100 meters of where you plan to hunt is illegal in this province. You are permitted to harvest two bearded gobblers during the spring season, and, unlike Ontario, they may be taken on the same day. A wild turkey training certificate as well as a turkey-hunting license is required and remember the use of an orange vest is also regulated. For more information on pursuing turkey in Quebec: https://www.quebec.ca/en/tourism-and-recreation/sporting-and-outdoor-activities/sport-hunting/game/wild-turkey
Perhaps this country’s most popular game fish and easily one of the best eating, the wonderful walleye is usually the second season to open. Anglers who pursue marble eyes will be out in full force come the second Saturday in May. To keep walleye for consumption, they must measure 40 – 50 cm’s, with a possession limit of four fish on your regular license, and two fish with conservation license. For more information, consult regulations for Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ) 15 for Renfrew County excluding the Ottawa River: https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-fishing-regulations-summary/fisheries-management-zone-15
For the Ottawa River see: https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-fishing-regulations-summary/fisheries-management-zone-12
Conserving spring trout
Back in angling’s early days the adage, ‘a fish caught was a fish kept’ usually applied, but things have changed, especially for trout. With trout season a week away in most of our region, and across the river, learning how to catch and release trout is crucial. Safely releasing fragile ‘brookies’ requires patience and a soft touch. Barbless hooks and long-nosed pliers are a must and never use nylon landing nets. To watch a beautiful brook trout, swim off after a nice battle is an incredible feeling. You can always keep smaller fish to bring home but doing your part for conservation pays-off in the end, if you are willing to invest the time. If you had asked me 20 years ago about letting a 2–3-pound trout go free, I might have laughed. Conservation of the species requires self-control but offers copious long-term reward.
Tight lines folks and I will see you on the water.