Changes to Ontario’s FMZ10 Walleye Regulations

As heard on the latest episode of Outdoor Journal Radio, Ontario’s ever-popular FMZ10 is undergoing a few regulation changes, two of which are set to directly impact walleye anglers in 2024.

As seen above, FMZ 10 stretches all the way from Wawa across to Elk Lake, down to the mouth of the French River. Its southern and western boundaries are the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, including the lakes on Manitoulin Island.

Map of Ontario's FMZ 10 where the walleye regulations have been changed

The New Walleye Regulations

Though there are many changes to the regulations in this zone this year, the main interest to many anglers, and the point of discussion on the latest podcast, are the changes to the walleye season. They read as follows:

In regards to the first point, this change essentially removed one week from the walleye season that ice anglers are used to enjoying, a change that those in the southern portions of the province have become all too accustomed to.

The second point refers to the slot size for fish that anglers are allowed to keep. In the past, this region allowed for one walleye OVER 46cm (~18 inches). This oversized fish has now been removed from the legal bounty (limit of 4) and anglers are now forced to keep fish measuring below the set slot.

Feedback from Walleye Anglers

On the podcast, Ang and Pete discussed a great article from the CBC, who first broke down the regulation changes in December. In this story, they interviewed Randy Fawcett, a member on the executive of the Algoma Fish and Game Club, who spoke for many local anglers when he criticized the government’s lack of transparency in providing the science behind the decision.

“I’ve been asking a few people about that, where the science came from, to justify that the fish are actually spawning early. And I never got any answers back,” Fawcett said, regarding the shortened winter walleye season.

Fawcett also added he, and other anglers on the FMZ 10 advisory council, had voted against the changes, but other council members had outvoted them.

Justification for the Walleye Regulation Changes

In the same story from the CBC, Sarah Fig, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry did provide comment, citing that “Provincial monitoring results show that the walleye population in FMZ 10 is among the lowest of northern FMZs, and particularly adult walleye abundance is below levels considered sustainable,”

She also added that walleye are the most targeted fish among recreational anglers in FMZ 10 during the summer months, and the second-most targeted during the winter.

In terms of our opinion, Ang and Pete are a bit mixed.

On one hand, we have always been preachers of keeping smaller fish. As we have heard from many biologists, this is especially true when keeping walleye, as male fish rarely grow over 18 inches and females over this size are capable of producing thousands of eggs.

On the other hand, the call for transparency did not fall on deaf ears, as Ang has stated many times how these well-intentioned decisions by the government are not always rooted in science and surely do not frequently consult the experiences of anglers.

What do you think of these new regulations? Let us know in the comments below!

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