Fishing in Canada

From the Atlantic Maritime Provinces with its sea-run trout and giant tuna, to Vancouver Island and salmon runs of the Yukon, Canada offers excellent fishing from coast to coast.
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About Canada

With the world’s longest coastline and nearly a million lakes, Canada just can’t help being an excellent fishing destination. The Great Lakes alone would make any country proud, but there are much more than that: Winnipeg, Athabasca, Great Slave Lake, and thousands of other lakes big and small feature healthy fishing populations as well as breathtaking beauty. Canadian rivers, from St. Lawrence in the east to Frazer in the west to Yukon in the north leave nothing to the country’s lakes, and if you are into swift and clear mountain streams, you can find them aplenty in the Canadian Rockies as well as other mountain systems. Throw in access to three oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Pacific, which offer offshore fishing opportunities and a chance to hook a giant halibut or tuna. Even near Canada’s biggest metropolitan areas such as Ottawa, Vancouver, or Montreal you can find great fishing, to say nothing of remote wilderness areas well worth a dedicated trip. Both the federal and provincial governments in Canada take environmental protection very seriously, and fishing is strictly regulated, with seasons, licenses, and rules in place to ensure sustainability and prevent damage to ecosystems. Some species, including the Atlantic salmon and the sturgeon, enjoy special protection, with catch-and-release requirements, and other measures that may include bans on fishing in critical stretches of some rivers. To prevent spread of invasive species and diseases, the use of live baits is regulated, and boaters must ensure they don’t transport some unwanted creature or other with the hull water of their craft. Typically for the North American Conservation Model, the rules may get complicated, so visitors from other countries are advised to use the services of a registered reputable guide.

Fishing Types

Most of Canada's population is concentrated along the country’s southern border, and the majority of its territory is a perfect wilderness. That makes Canada a perfect destination for backcountry fishing. Even in the most remote locations in the Yukon and Northern Territories you can find several fishing lodges, often accessible only via a float plane, and if that’s not wild enough for you, there are guides who organize camp or float trips to the country’s most desolate areas. But you really don’t have to go too far from any Canadian town to have a retreat on a river or lake where you would feel like you’re the only, or one of the very few, people on the planet. As already mentioned, Atlantic Canada is one of the prime spots on the map of big-game deep-sea fishing enthusiasts, with a wide selection of fishing charters offering both nearshore and offshore fishing trips. The same is true for the Pacific Coast of British Columbia. One of the most exciting fishing opportunities found in Pacific Canada is the nearshore saltwater fishing for salmon. Most anglers think about this fish only after they enter the rivers to spawn, but it’s no less exciting to target the salmon from a boat during the saltwater part of its life cycle.

Targeted Fish Species

Oceans and seas, rivers and lakes of Canada are home to a wide variety of fish species. The Atlantic coast is one of the world’s prime locations for bluefin tuna, with the standing world record caught off the shores of Nova Scotia, as well as the enormous and ancient Greenland shark. The Pacific Coast draws the anglers who want to try their luck targeting the giant halibut, and, of course, there are smaller species such as albacore tuna, rockfish, and black seabass. In the rivers of British Columbia you can catch one of the biggest freshwater species - the sturgeon, and all over the country there is excellent fishing for muskellunge and giant northern pike, more than deserving the moniker of "the crocodile of the northern rivers", as well as walleye, bass and perch. And, last but not least - the salmon and trout. From chinook, coho, chum and pink salmon in the Pacific to Atlantic salmon in the East, with lake, rainbow, brook, brown trout, whitefish and grayling in between, Canada has practically every member of the salmonid family, and although some fisheries (most notably the Atlantic salmon) are not quite what they’re used to be, Canada remains the prime destination for salmon and trout fishing enthusiasts.

Fishing Techniques

Just about any fishing technique can be used in Canada, provided that it is allowed by fishing regulations. So, for example, although spinning is generally quite all right for salmon fishing, certain times and places in Canada are fly fishing only, and that with barbless hooks on your flies. Apart from that, there is a time and place for every technique. Trolling with heavy tackle is about the only way to target tuna, and with somewhat lighter gear for other species like salmon, muskie, lake trout, and other predatory fish, while bottom fishing works well for halibut. But if there’s one fishing technique that is really next level in Canada, it’s ice fishing. True, it is practiced all over the world wherever rivers and lakes freeze in winter (while we're at it, check out our blog to learn more about ice fishing). But it’s the combination of skills and knowledges with dedicated technology, from rods, reels and jigs to power augers, shelters, and clothes with positive buoyancy, that makes ice fishing enthusiasts from other parts of the planet who book a trip with Canadian ice fishing guides exclaim “Am I in paradise?”