Fishing in Ontario

Cast for salmon in a Great Lakes tributary, fly fish for northern pike, fill a creel with tasty walleyes, or experience a fly-in adventure to a wilderness lake—you can do it all in Canada’s second-largest province.
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About Ontario

Ontario is the most populous province in Canada, holding 38 percent of the country's population. It is bordered by several huge bodies of water, including Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north and Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario to the south, as well as major rivers, including the St. Lawrence, Niagara, and Pigeon Rivers. The majority of Ontario’s human population lives in its southern portion, which also has most of its farmland. The northern half of Ontario is sparsely populated, heavily forested, and studded with numerous lakes and rivers. With all this water, you might imagine that Ontario is an angler’s paradise, and you’d be correct. Whether you’re a serious angler or just want to try your hand at a little fishing while you’re here, Ontario is the perfect destination, with clean, clear water and wide variety of abundant fish. In addition, the province offers a wide range of fishing experiences, from day trips just outside a city center to fishing lodges and remote, fly-in camps that offer solitude on scenic wilderness lakes. One of the most famous fisheries in southern Ontario straddles the border between Ontario and the U.S.: the St. Lawrence River and its famous Thousand Islands, which actually consist of 1,864 islands in the river ranging in size from tiny outcrops to more than 40 square miles. Anglers flock here for the famous salmon runs, as well as for walleyes, trout, muskies, and bass. Head to northern Ontario if you want to leave the crowds behind and cast your line into a pristine wilderness lake such as the Eagle Lake, which is world-famous for its muskellunge fishing.

Fishing Types

You can find just about every possible type of fishing somewhere in the vastness of Ontario. The huge variety of lakes, both large and small, mean that most serious anglers here keep or have access to a boat, but wading and shore fishing are possible in most regions. Canadian winters are long, and that’s great news for those who love ice fishing. In spring and summer, fly-in fishing trips to otherwise inaccessible wilderness lakes are a big draw for visiting anglers, especially in northern Ontario.

Targeted Fish Species

Ontario’s fish are not only diverse, but also large and abundant. It is said that more than 10 million pounds of walleyes are caught in the province every year! In addition to this toothsome gamefish, you can catch chinook and coho salmon in Lake Ontario and Lake Huron and their tributaries, and huge muskellunge in Lake of the Woods, Lake St. Clair, and many others. Smallmouth bass are found from the Great Lakes to wilderness lakes in northern Ontario and most waterways in between. Some lakes in the southern portion of the province also hold largemouth bass. Brook trout in Ontario can grow very large — up to 8 or 10 pounds in some places, and lake trout in deep lakes get even larger. Other popular species include Atlantic salmon, whitefish, northern pike, crappies, and perch.

Fishing Techniques

Ontario has many excellent places to fly fish, especially for brook trout, smallmouth bass, and steelhead. Fly fishing for northern pike has also recently grown in popularity, and many lodges in northern Ontario offer this option. Prefer casting lures, trolling deep lakes, or shore-fishing with bait? Ontario’s diverse fisheries have you covered.