Hi Peek, you will need to purchase a license even if plan on putting them all back. The only time you can fish without a license is during the Family fishing weekend sometime in the summer. If you can a Conservation License, it is cheaper than a standard fishing license, but the number of fish you can keep is lower than the set limit.
The good folks here have given you the goods for sure .. but I'd add one word of caution ... make sure you don't do like I did and NOT read the regs for my fishing region ... I made the assumption that when the season opens for a species it "should" be open all around the province ... but there are some difference between regions and even within regions so just make sure you give it a read and look for any exceptions for the lakes you will be on ... for example some lakes allow live bait and some do not ...
Algonquin park has great fishing .. you are picking a great spot to start ...
Hey guys thanks again for the great info... I'll probably go with the conservation license for the first year, and then move on next year perhaps.
Those are some HARDCORE penalties for breaking the law - loss of car too?? Wow. Don't get me wrong, I understand why they're in place - but wow! If that isn't enough incentive to do it the right way and obey regulations - I don't know what is.
I know some rules of Algonquin, like no live bait fish (in case they escape and populate a lake they shouldnt) and don't fish near dams / don't release a fish caught in one lake into another.
Does the bait fish rule apply only to actual fish/minnows used as bait? Can I still use worms or leeches?
And don't forget that there are some lakes in the park where you are not allowed to fish at all ...
Don't sweat it too much ... check the regs and in particular look for the lakes you will be on and you'll be fine ... it's a 5 minute read and you're on your way.
If you want to increase your chances of fish you can also post a question on techniques, time of year, etc and you'll get lots of good advice here ... we can't advise on specific locations because its against the site rules but we can give general info on what lakes have good fishing, techniques, etc.
For anyvbody interested...
Forests Under Threat from Exotic Earthworm Invasion: Study Shows Humans to Blame for Spread of Non-Native Species
Science Daily (Sep. 1, 2011)
...findings, published online in Springer's journal Human Ecology, suggest that humans spread earthworms both inadvertently via horticulture and land disturbance, in the tires and underbodies of vehicles, but also knowingly through composting and careless disposal of fish bait.
Non-native species of earthworms can have a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of the forests. They can be responsible for accelerating the breakdown of the organic material on the surface of the forest floor, thereby reducing the habitat for the animals living there...
The authors conclude that even the most environmentally conscious individuals do not currently realize what a threat these earthworms pose. They suggest that, in particular, gardening clubs and convenience stores which sell worms to anglers should be targeted with information and that "the public needs to be empowered to implement behavior that helps mitigate the introduction of earthworms."
And since Algonquin's forests are dominated by hardwoods...
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, and elsewhere, have documented dramatic changes in native hardwood forest ecosystems when exotic earthworms invade. These changes including losses of native understory plant species and tree seedlings, changes in soil structure and declines in nutrient availability.
These results suggest that exotic earthworms may pose a grave threaten the biodiversity and long term stability of hardwood forest ecosystems in the region.
Agreed, there are two different issues here, the need for recreation and the need to do what's best for the park. Somebody suggested using worms earlier so I brought up the need for conservation (the conservation fishing license could have had the option for not using live bait if policymakers had been farsighted enough but that's another matter again).
From the POV of doing what's best for the park, it's an easy fix to switch to plastic baits by simply banning live bait uniformly throughout the park... much easier than something like closing roads, for instance.
It's probably too much to ask the million or so park visitors to do this along with all the bait shops doing business on the margins... I would have thought park managers and bureaucrats would have had the insight to do the right thing in the bigger picture. The knowledge is there, the legal framework in the new Parks Act is there, and so are politics.
My dad told me a number of years ago that earthworms were non-native and I wasn't sure he had his facts right ... but he usually does ... and he did !!
Something the casual angler might not also know is that there are lots of sources of live bait that does not include worms and minnows. Especially in spring when fish are still shallow in lakes (and anytime in rivers) fish will take live bugs of many types ... grasshoppers, junebugs, mayflies, etc. basically anything that might fall into the river or lake is a good candidate to be eaten by a hungry trout or bass. When you hear trout breaking water they are usually eating bugs that are on the surface. If you have ever seen a fly fishermans fly collection the flies imitate these bugs ... but if you don't mind catching and putting a real bug on a hook they work really well. Of course you might have to be careful in the park not to use something that might have some sort of "protected" status ... how about mosquitoes and blackflies !!!.