• By: Allen Brown

Fishing in Ottawa and the Popularity of an Ancient Tradition

Fishing has long since been an important part of Ottawan culture. So, let’s take a look at the best fishing spots, the origins of the activity, and its evolution into an ancestral tradition.

Fishing Spots (and What to Look Out For)

Windsor Park and Petrie Island are arguably two of the most popular fishing spots in Ottawa. The place you opt for largely depends on what you’re looking for out of your fishing experience. Either way, it is important to be cautious about going fishing when it is dark, and heading out alone, as both locations can get quite remote.

Windsor Park is a fantastic spot for fishing all year round and has decent visibility even on an evening. Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, fishing enthusiasts can reel in yellow perch fingerlings, bluegill, trout, and channel catfish from Windsor Lake. Fishing is restricted to the west side of the lake. If you’re heading to Windsor Park, be sure to check out if there is any ice in and around the area, as this can greatly impact the species and size of the fish you’ll encounter.

Petrie Island, on the other hand, is a little further out – you can get there on the 174 in around 25 minutes. Conditions at Petrie Island are particularly good around spring when the action becomes pretty fast-paced. Petrie Island is great for small freshwater fishermen due to the extensive array of perch, bluegills, and crappie close to shore, as well as bass, garpike, sunfish, sturgeon, muskellunge, and ling.

Fishing: A Cultural and Ancestral Tradition 

The importance of fishing in our culture and traditions has meant it has continued to be a key aspect of popular culture, even in the modern day. Many people enjoy watching fishing-themed videos, heading down to their nearest fishing spot to fish for fun, or even partake in virtual fishing experiences online. In fact, fishing is perhaps one of the more popular themes in online casino games, with slot games like Fishin’ Frenzy and Big Bass both boasting extensive and successful franchises. These games riff off the themes and motifs of the pastime of fishing, providing an immersive and authentic casino experience with a fishing twist.

Though the culture of fishing today is primarily renowned as a fun and relaxing pastime, fishing is deeply rooted in Ottawa’s history. The waters around Ottawa have been important to First Nation people for thousands of years as a means of sustenance and trading. Due to this, many fisheries sprouted up in the area, trading fish and fish products with travellers for other commerce. Because of the demand for the native fish species in the area, by the 19th and 20th centuries, these fisheries began to be more commercialized and Westernized, owned by larger corporations such as coal companies.

To begin with, fishermen used wooden steam tug boats and converted passenger boats to go out in search of trout, bass, yellow perch, cod, and cisco. Nets were used to catch the fish, which then had to be lifted by hand onto the boats. Later, this was replaced by mechanical net lifters. Even so, manual labour was tough aboard the boats and was particularly challenging during the colder months of the year.

As you can see, from the ancestral traditions to modern Ottawans, fishing is still an important part of life for those looking for a break from the city or looking to celebrate their heritage.