Ontario is really stepping up with a few programs to help families enjoy the great outdoors from free loaner fishing gear to learn to camp programs to bus routes that bring people from the city out to some of our postcard worthy Provincial Parks.
Last year I ran across Ontario’s Tackle Share program and I was simply thrilled that not only was it out there but that it is in so many communities around Ontario. I was disappointed that it really wasn’t as available in Southwestern Ontario, despite this area having so much access to water large and small. This year sadly there doesn’t seem to be ANY tackle share areas in Southwestern Ontario, or up in the Bruce Peninsula. Hopefully this can change for next year.
For those that don’t know what the Tackle Share program is; at loaner sites youth and those new to fishing can sign out a rod & reel and tackle. This is all based similar to a library, in fact one or two of the loaner sites are in libraries, as well as conservation areas, and other community organizations. This is a FREE program. (FYI to any group looking to become a Tackle Share site – the OFAH/OPG TackleShare program provides you with the fishing equipment, as well as the educational and promotional materials. Your site just needs to be reasonable walking distance to a fishable shoreline, keep the fishing gear tidy and available, promote the FREE use of Tackle Share to the public, and of course stress water safety as a top concern. So for those communities without this program what’s stopping you? Add this resource to your community.)
There is also a travelling tackle share program that tours around visiting Ontario Parks locations to teach hands on fishing, identification, habitat, invasive species and water safety. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming location.
Learn to Fish
This program is offered in several of Ontario’s provincial parks 4-6 times a week from June to August. Its for kids, teens and adults to learn how to rig and bait a fishing rod, as well as identify and catch local fish. Everything is taken care of for you with this FREE program. The instruction, the fishing rod and reel, lifejacket and sunglasses, and even a single day fishing licence.
Look for the program at Darlington Provincial Park, Earl Rowe Provincial Park, Emily Provincial Park, Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Sibbald Point Provincial Park, and Six Mile Lake Provincial Park. Remember it’s 1st come first served limited to approx 40 people.
There is also mobile programs from Learn to Fish that attend community events to educate about fishing and safety and even show you how to make your own lure (we did this at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show – was very easy, interactive and having your lure put into a “real” product box like you would find on store shelves made it even more special, and brag worthy), or try to reel in a fish with the fishing simulator.
Learn to fish is also paired up with the Learn to camp program as well as the Park Bus program.
Learn to Camp @ Ontario Parks
If you haven’t camped before and really aren’t sure how to start or don’t have any equipment, then this is the program for you. Available at 9 Provincial parks, the equipment is provided for you, you will learn how to set up camp, cook meals on a camp stove and light a campfire. Plus there are other fun activities to participate in. You will need to bring your own bedding, food and personal items. Don’t worry there are hot showers, safe drinking water and flush toilets.
You can choose between one and two night experiences (trust me two nights would be better, giving you a chance to enjoy more after setting up the first night). There is a cost for the program of $86 + tax for1 night (up to 6 people including children) and $137 + tax for 2 nights. (Personally this is a great deal since the equipment is provided for you). Some firewood and a snack is also provided for you.
You can only participate one time – due to program space – however you can go a second time with their graduates program which has the same costs but allows you to continue to build your skills.
Participating Parks – Bronte Creek Provincial Park, Darlington Provincial Park, Earl Rowe Provincial Park, Emily Provincial Park, Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Six Mile Lake Provincial Park, Selkirk Provincial Park, and Grundy Lake Provincial Park
Want to get out of the big city (Toronto & one route to Algonquin from Ottawa) and out to a Provincial park this weekend, maybe even for the Learn to Camp program? But you don’t have a way to get there? Fear not, there is an option. PARKBUS, a program providing express buses to Algonquin, Killarney, Grunday Lake Provincial Park (Learn to Camp), Georgian Bay Islands, Lion’s Head, Six Mile Lake (Learn to Camp), Bruce Peninsula National Park and Tobermory.
There is also day trip bus routes available; Rockwood, Elora Gorge, Heart Lake, Kelso, Rattlesnake Point, and Albion Hills.
So if you have been thinking about getting out into nature this Spring and Summer but didn’t know where to start or don’t have the skills, there are lots of options to help get you started. Grab your calendars and get booking something now, and make some memories. Make sure to take some photo’s to share with everyone later.