If you plan to fish Lake Erie for walleye from sometime in July through usually the August time frame, I recommend that we plan to possibly be fishing the Canadian side of the lake. Although I can never guarantee that fishing will be better on the Canadian side of the lake versus the Ohio side, many times if we’re not “over the border” we regret the decision to stay in Ohio. It can be disappointing to have a slow day in Ohio and then watch those who have fished Canada, unload nice coolers of fish at the end of their day! Remember, the Canadian border is only 10 miles from our dock. It’s not as far away as you might think! We fish the Canadian waters of Lake Erie often.
If you want to spend the day targeting larger smallmouth bass, or if you want a smallmouth/walleye combination charter, we usually fish the Canadian side of the lake. The prime time for the smallmouth is from mid-July through usually mid to late September. Ohio smallmouth generally heat up in late summer and into the fall season.
We are now more heavily regulated by the USA, as well as by our Canadian neighbors. Without making advance arrangements for your Canadian fishing licenses & if you don’t have the proper identification, it is impossible to fish the Canadian waters. Everyone on the charter must have their Canadian fishing licenses and credentials with them, prior to arrival. If one person in your group doesn’t plan ahead and get all their documents in advance, the group will not be able to fish the Canadian waters.
IN ORDER TO GO INTO CANADIAN WATERS, WE ALL FALL UNDER THE RULES FOR THE “WESTERN HEMISPERE, AS FOLLOWS:
- We are all required to follow the rules that apply to all of us living in the Western Hemisphere. Those rules state that if you are over 16 years old, you must have a passport with you, when you travel to another country. They cost about $100 and can be purchased through the U.S. Post Office. It can sometimes take 6-8 weeks to get your initial passport and about 2 weeks if you are renewing an existing passport. They are valid for 10 years. For those under 16, a passport costs $85. To cross into Canadian water, you will be required to have a passport. Or, you can use an ENHANCED Driver’s License, as an alternative to having a passport. Another option is to have a standard Driver’s License but you must then also have your Birth Certificate with you, as well. Canada will accept a NEXUS card, if you have gone through that process in advance to obtain one. Many of these forms of I.D. are approved if you are traveling by car or boat but may not be valid for air travel. If you ever think you will travel to any other country other than the USA in the next 10 years, you might as well get your passport now!
- So far, the U.S. is not requiring those under the age of 16 to have a passport, but you are supposed to have a birth certificate with you. Also, if one parent is not on the boat, you need a written approval from the absent parent, to enter Canada.
- If you have had a DUI in the last 10 years, or more than one DUI conviction in 10 years or longer, Canada won’t allow you entry. If anyone in your crew has a felony conviction, we can’t go into Canada.
- Although somewhat difficult to enforce, Canada enforces an open container laws for alcoholic beverages while on a boat. Even if you have a handgun concealed carry permit, you can’t take your gun to Canada while on your charter.
- If you purchase a one-day fishing license, you have an option to order it well in advance by mail by calling 1-800-667-1940. You should order your license at least 6-weeks prior to the date of your charter. They will mail the license to your home. I highly recommend you simply download and print off your license on-line by going to www1.on.wildlifelicense.com
- If you plan to fish Canadian waters for 3 or more days, Canada requires sportsmen to buy an OUTDOOR CARD before being allowed to purchase a fishing or a hunting license. It costs about $10 and it’s valid for 3 years. Without the card, it is not possible to buy a fishing license that would be valid for 3 days, or longer. As of now, you can order the card by phone or through the internet. You don’t need the CARD if you buy 1-day licenses. So even if you plan to fish 2 days, buy two (1) day licenses! For information on this card, you can call 1-800-387-7011. You can also see https://www.ontario.ca/page/fishing
- Remember: You can order your fishing license and the OUTDOOR CARD on the internet. This will allow anglers to purchase their “individual” fishing license & outdoor card (if needed) on-line & print off the license from your computer. You can buy them the day before your charter. It takes some time to complete the process but this is the best way to instantly get your license.
SUMMATION OF THE RULES WE NEED TO FOLLOW TO FISH CANADA
Previously purchase your (1) day Canadian fishing license(s). You MUST HAVE your license(s) with you upon your arrival at the Ohio dock, on the day of your charter.
No License = No fishing in Canada!
Everyone on board, must have a passport.
If you don’t have a passport, you must have an alternate form of acceptable I.D.
We can’t get off the boat and touch Canadian soil. If we did, more rules would apply!
It’s used to give proof of who you are. You can get a NEXUS card for about $50 and it’s good for 5 years. Download the form “On-Line” and fill out the data. You’ll need to make an appointment to finalize the process with U.S. and Canadian Customs in Detroit or Buffalo.
Yes. It is a hassle to obtain!
We all have to get used to the changes. In the United States, Homeland Security, Customs, the Coast Guard and other organizations, are all responsible for securing our borders. Like it or not, these changes are part of their efforts to achieve their goals. Plus, Canada also has rules we have to follow, as well. Be prepared for more rules and costs in the future!