Otty Lake Fishing

Fishing Regulations

The 2023 bass season opens the third Saturday in June (June 17) and runs through to December 15. The pike season begins the second Saturday in May (May 13).  There is no closed season for panfish (bluegills, sunfish etc).  Consult the guide for possession limits.

Recreational Fishing Licenses. These are required unless you are under 18, 65 or over, or disabled. The rules are different for non-Canadians, particularly seniors, so make sure you check! There are fees associated with these licenses.

Ontario is divided into 20 Fisheries Management Zones. The season open dates and catch and possession limits vary by zone. Otty Lake is in Zone 18. Check Zone 18 restrictions 

The Ontario guide also has useful information on bait, laws to discouraging invasive species, ice fishing and and Crown land camping.

Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary 2023

Illegal Fishing

Illegal fishing, particularly during the bass spawning season, should be reported immediately to the Ministry of Natural Resources hot line at 1-877-847-7767. This is an anonymous tips line. Provide the day and time of the offence and, if possible, a description of the boat (make, colour and registration number on the side of the boat) and a description of the occupants. You do not have to identify yourself during this call.

Don’t Dump Your Bait

The careful use of live bait-fish is not unlawful in most Ontario waters; however the remaining unused bait-fish must not be released alive. It is illegal to introduce any fish from one body of water to another without a permit. This is true even for minnows, as they may be a different species that what is already in the lake, and could damage the local lake ecology.

Anglers should empty their bait buckets on land before leaving any body of water. Some drain their minnow bucket on shore and freeze the excess for another day. An even better option is for anglers to catch their own bait from the lake they will be fishing.

Invading species such as the ruffe, rudd, round goby and rusty crayfish threaten the health of Ontario’s aquatic ecosystems. It is illegal to use gobies, ruffe or rudd for bait.

Fishing Off Shore from Private Property


Navigable watercourses that have legal access points are open to the public for boating. Ontario’s fish resources are managed by the government for the benefit of the public and are not the property of individual landowners.

Property owners have the right to use their property without unusual interference. They should expect a reasonable amount of boating and fishing activity near their lakefront dwelling, but should not have to deal with someone to fishing just beyond their shoreline for long periods of time.

The Ministry of Natural Resources encourages respect and cooperation between private land owners and recreational fishing enthusiasts.

Bass Populations

Otty’s bass population has been in jeopardy. Over the past few years, the number of adult fish (2 pounds and above) has significantly declined. There are two causes of this. First, it is possible that a decade ago, the lake experienced a series of poor spawns. Second, the population has been subject to the over-harvesting of mature adult fish. This is the segment of the population that is the principal spawning source.

It takes a long time to grow an adult bass in Ontario. A three pound bass is at minimum, 7-8 years old. A five pound bass is well over 15 years old. Indiscriminate harvesting of mature fish will, in a short time, decimate a fishery in a small lake like Otty.

Please practice catch-and-release. If you want a fish dinner, consider harvesting some panfish like bluegills, sunfish and rock bass. They are far tastier than smallmouth or largemouth bass and their populations are at an all-time peak.

The Otty Lake Fishery

Contributed by Wally Robbins. as written in the 2022 State of the Lake Report

For most of the past decade the Otty Lake fishery has been relatively stable for all resident fish species. This trend is one positive indicator that the overall health of thelake is strong.

Both the smallmouth and largemouth bass populations appear to be in good shape. There are significant numbers of fish in various year classes (size ranges). Of critical  importance are healthy populations of large adult fish (over 3 pounds). The majority of these fish are female and are the primary spawners in the lake. Protecting these fish will insure that equally large fish will be produced in the future.

Other species, with the exception of northern pike which have been in decline for numerous years, are abundant. Otty is home to a variety of panfish species (bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, perch). These fish occupy an important rung on the food chain providing forage for larger predator fish, as well as for various water mammals and birds of prey. Panfish also provide exciting, non-stop action for experienced and novice anglers (especially children) and are, by far, the tastiest fish that swim in Otty.

An overlooked species for many is the cisco, also called shad or lake herring. These  thin, minnow like fish travel in large schools and spend the majority of their time over deep water. Ciscoes are the primary forage of smallmouth bass. Simply said, the health of Otty’s cisco population is critical to the future of the smallmouth fishery in Otty.

Otty’s reputation as a very good bass fishery is now common knowledge. As such, more non-resident and cottagers are visiting the lake to catch bass. To date, this has increased angling and boat pressure on the lake. Whether this increase in fishing pressure negatively impacts fish populations will not be seen for a number of years. On a positive note, the majority of avid bass anglers practice catch and release so it is hoped that the fishery will not be adversely affected.

There is nothing wrong with keeping the occasional fish for the table. However, “selective harvesting” should be practiced. This simply means keeping smaller fish for a meal and releasing larger adult fish. the optimum size of bass to keep for a meal is a 1.5 pound fish.  

Suspect Illegal Fishing?

MNRF Tips Line
1 877 847 7667

Fishing With Kids

For cottagers and residents of Otty, introducing kids to fishing is a ritual. Here are some tips for keeping it fun and simple!

Fish Stocking on Otty Lake?

From 1921 to 1968, various fish species have been stocked in Otty. Some species thrived while others disappeared after their introduction to the lake.

Lanark Fact Sheet

Lanark County Tourism has fact sheets on all 88 lakes in Lanark County on their website describing access and fish found there.