Everything You Need to Know About Renting a Boat in Ontario

Whether you are going on a fishing trip or just cruising the lake, it's easy to rent a boat in Sunset Country.

Heading to Sunset Country this summer and require a boat rental? The good news is, all of the lodges and outfitters in Northwest Ontario rent boats! It's so convenient that you can rent a boat right where you are staying.

The lodges often offer a variety of boats. Most of the lodges on smaller lakes have aluminum 14-16’ boats while larger lakes such as Lake of the Woods, Eagle, or Lac Seul have the option to upgrade to a 17-19' boat. For example, at Andy Myers Lodge on Eagle Lake, you can upgrade to an 18’ Lund with a new 50 HP motor, locator, live well, padded swivel seats, casting deck, and bow mount trolling motor. 

Pontoon boat rentals and houseboat rentals are offered at a few places. You can search for what type of boat rental you need here. Just scroll to "Find a Boat to Rent," then in the drop-down menu select the type of boat you are looking for.

pontoon boat rental from Tomahawk Lodge
Pontoon boats like this one from Tomahawk Resort can be used for fishing or cruising.

You can tow your boat from home if you like and the lodges will have a boat launch onsite or nearby. Often there is a personal boat launch and docking fee. If the operator offers optional insurance, I’d take it. All those rocks and reefs that make our fishing so great are not so great on the motor’s bottom end. If you are staying at a fly-in-only resort the outfitter will supply the boats.

Before renting a boat in Ontario's Sunset Country, you'll want to be prepared and knowledgeable about several key points to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here’s a comprehensive list.

  • Boating License Requirements: In Canada, boaters are required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) to operate a motorized boat. This includes tourists and those renting boats. You can obtain this by passing an accredited boating safety test. Non-residents of Canada have three acceptable proof of competency:
    • A Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
    • A completed boat rental safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats); or,
    • An operator card or equivalent which meets the requirements of their state or country.
Wabigoon lake outfitters rental boats
Wabigoon Lake Outfitters Boat Rental
  • Safety Gear: Make sure the rental boat is equipped with all required safety gear according to Transport Canada regulations. This typically includes life jackets for each person on board, a fire extinguisher, a sound-signaling device, and a watertight flashlight, among others. Confirm with the rental provider that all necessary safety equipment is included and in good condition. Many of the lodges require you to bring your own lifejackets. It’s especially important to ask your operator what’s included in your fly-in trip. It would be a shame to fly to an outpost camp and not have a fishing net to land your trophy fish.   
  • Fishing Licenses: If you are fishing, you will need a valid Ontario fishing license and Outdoors card to fish in Ontario waters. There are different types of licenses for residents and non-residents, and for conservation (catch-and-release) or regular (keeping your catch within limits) purposes. These can be purchased online through the Ontario government's website or at local service centers. The Ontario fishing regulations are also online. 
  • Boat Operation Knowledge: Familiarize yourself with the specific type of boat you are renting, including its handling, operation, and any unique features. If you're not experienced, ask the rental service for a thorough briefing or consider hiring a guide.   
Lost Island Lodge Guide boat
Rent a guide boat for the day if you want some expertise.
  • Local Waterways Regulations: Learn about the local waterways rules in Sunset Country, such as speed limits, restricted areas, and navigation rules. This information can usually be obtained from the lodge or local marina.   
  • Weather and Water Conditions: Be aware of the local weather forecast and water conditions. Weather can change quickly, and being prepared is crucial for safety. Always have a plan for seeking shelter in case of sudden storms.    
  • Emergency Procedures: Know the emergency procedures and have the local emergency contact numbers handy. This includes understanding what to do if someone falls overboard, the boat capsizes, or if you need to signal for help.   
take the family out in the boat
The whole family will enjoy being out on the water!
  • Environmental Considerations: Respect the local environment by avoiding sensitive areas, not littering, and following catch-and-release guidelines where appropriate. Ontario's waters are home to diverse ecosystems that need to be protected.   
  • Navigation Tools: While many boats come equipped with GPS, having a physical map of the area or a navigation app on your phone can be a valuable backup. Know how to use these tools to navigate the waters safely. If you ever get lost, a paper map can help you find your way and keep you safe. In the Fall of 2018, two anglers were found after being stranded in the cold weather for 3 days.  They were 40 miles from where they thought they were on Lake of the Woods. In early Spring and in the Fall, always have a way to make a fire, a flashlight, something extra to eat, have a space blanket and a blaze orange vinyl or plastic tarp to signal and to keep the rain and snow off.    
  • Local Fishing Information: Research the best fishing spots, what types of fish you can expect to catch, and the best baits and lures to use. Local knowledge can significantly enhance your fishing experience, so consider talking to locals, the lodge owners or hiring a guide.   

While the lodges in the area offer boat rentals to their guests, you can also rent fishing boats, pontoon boats and jet skis from a few operators such as LOTW Docking or Tall Pines Marina in Kenora, Morson Marina in Morson. 

Have fun boating!!

About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

Recommended Articles

Looking for somewhere new to fish?

The Morson area of Lake of the Woods is fantastic!

Has not having a passport kept you from vacationing in Canada?

It's easier to get than you may think!

Discover The Winnipeg River

From fur traders to trophy anglers, the beauty hasn't changed.

A Guide to Sunset Country Museums

Learn while you visit!

10 Reasons to Avoid Ontario

Haters of wilderness, wildlife, and quiet: best steer clear.

5 Amazing Sights You Can Only See By Boat

From mermaids to boat-in museums, the Northwest corner of Ontario has some of the coolest sights to see on water!

5 Essential Boreal Experiences in Ontario's Sunset Country

Freshwater fishing, forest hiking, and sunset views await in this pristine paradise

5 Obscure Facts About Northwestern Ontario: Were You Aware of These?

Here are 5 facts that most people don't know about Sunset Country.

Outdoor Medicine

Here's why experiencing the natural world is good for you—and your health.

Bringing Your Pet to Canada

What You Need to Know

Heading Across Canada?

Here's what you need to know about Sunset Country (from the giant moose statues to the even bigger waterfalls)

Tips for Spring Walleye Fishing

Find out the best places to find walleyes.

There's more than just fishing in the Red Lake Region

Although the fishing's pretty good too!

Outdoor Adventure in Ontario's Northern Paradise

On the links, on the trails, and on the water–discover why Kenora has it all this fall!

Plan your trip

Book the the trip you never got to take this summer

5 Amazing Things About Spring

Spring is a welcome sight after a long winter in Sunset Country!

Spring Fishing for Northern Pike

Northerns are hungry after the spawn and are ready to bite!

Tips from a Fishing Legend

Big Bass, Walleye, Muskie and So Much More

Going Fishing in Canada?

Get the answers to your questions

What makes Wabigoon such a great lake to fish?

Well for one, it has potential for the next world record muskie!

Search Sunset Country