Anglers who fish on Lake Simcoe have a new fish to try and catch: herring.

For many anglers, Saturday was their first time out on the ice and many are anxious to catch a fish they haven’t been allowed to for more than a decade.

“They’ve really become abundant, they’re actually pestering you at the top of your holes that you can’t go down to catch the perch,” says Fred Price.

It’s been illegal to fish for Herring on Lake Simcoe since 2001 because there was asteady decline in natural reproduction due to poor water quality. But in recent years its population has been reboundingand the Ministry of Natural Resourcesand Forestry (MNRF) has decided to reopen the season.

“It’s increasing the number of angling opportunities. Historically it was a popular sport fishery but it closed in 2001 because the population declined,” saysGabrielle Liddle, a biologist with the MNRF.

Both government and non-government organization have been working to improve the lake’s water quality. The MNRF has been monitoring the herring’s population and says there has been a positive trend of reproductionin recent years and there is now an abundance of the fish in Lake Simcoe.

The MNRF did consult with several stakeholder groups before deciding to reopen the season.

Bait and tackle operators are also excited about the herring season being reopened and are hoping it will draw more people to Lake Simcoe.

“It’s really important now; my minnow sales will increase now that people know the season is open. And it’s an easy fish to catch, very family friendly,” says Thomas Brittian with The Bate Bucket.

Anglers with a sport fishing licence tag are limited to two Herring, while a conservation fishing licence tag is limited to one.

The open season for herring on Lake Simcoe will last until March 15th   and will resume again on the second Saturday of May until September 30th.