Looking for the best Ontario fishing lakes for your next angling adventure? Ontario is blessed with a wealth of lakes where you can cast a line for a diverse array of fish, from the trophy bass of Lake Erie to the record-breaking brook trout of Lake Nipigon. Each lake offers its unique features, whether it’s the historic shipwrecks of Lake Superior or the lush island scenery of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.
In this guide, we’ll explore top destinations for anglers across Ontario including what to expect from each fishing gem – without wading through unnecessary details.
- Ontario is home to a diverse range of premier fishing lakes that offer a unique experience for every angler, from island adventures at Manitoulin Island to world-class brook trout fishing in Lake Nipigon.
- Seasonal fishing patterns and the availability of numerous fish species like smallmouth bass, lake trout, and walleye across lakes such as Lake Erie, Lake Superior, and others provide ample opportunities for trophy catches.
- Responsible fishing is essential, and understanding local rules and regulations is crucial to sustainability; anglers can utilize various services like fishing charters and well-stocked tackle shops to enhance their fishing adventures.
Lake Erie: The Smallmouth Bass Haven
Lake Erie, a part of the Great Lakes system, is a haven for smallmouth bass, attracting anglers from all corners of the globe. The lake’s topography, with its rocky structures, ledges, and drop-offs, especially on the eastern coast, creates an ideal habitat for a plentiful smallmouth bass population. The fishing season begins around late March or early April, coinciding with the spawning season, offering excellent catches until the lake freezes towards the year-end.
The migration of these smallmouth bass and largemouth bass to deeper waters during summer can complicate their location without proper technology or local knowledge. During this period, anglers may employ fishing techniques such as:
- using top-water plugs, jigs, or spinnerbaits in less deep areas
- using live bait like shiner minnows or crayfish
- using artificial lures such as crankbaits, spoons, jigs, and spinners
Booking a guided fishing trip is recommended if you lack familiarity with the techniques and optimal locations. It’s a fantastic way to ensure a successful smallmouth bass fishing experience on Lake Erie.
Lake Superior: The Shipwreck Fishing Experience
Lake Superior, known for its underwater clarity, offers a distinctive fishing experience. This Great Lake is home to an array of historical shipwrecks that have shaped its history and continue to attract diving enthusiasts. Notable wrecks include:
- The William Edenborn and barge Madeira near Split Rock Lighthouse
- The Emperor’s collision with Canoe Rocks
- The SS America visible in shallow water since 1928
Each of these shipwrecks adds a layer of historical context and underwater scenery to your fishing adventure.
But it’s not just about the shipwrecks; the diverse range of fish in Lake Superior is equally appealing. Anglers can expect a rich yield of lake trout, walleye, and salmon. Therefore, while you navigate the waters and explore the shipwrecks, remember to cast your line for a potential great catch.
Lake Huron: The Island Adventure
Lake Huron and Georgian Bay present a unique island adventure for the avid angler. Georgian Bay, with its deep, clear waters, is celebrated for its excellent fishing, housing species like Lake Trout and various types of Salmon. But the real gem here is Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island, nestled within Lake Huron. Boasting over 100 lakes, it offers a wide range of fishing opportunities, including:
- Bass fishing in Lake Manitou
- Pike fishing in Lake Kagawong
- Walleye fishing in Lake Mindemoya
- Trout fishing in Lake Manitoulin
Whether you prefer fly fishing, trolling, or casting, Manitoulin Island has something for every angler, including fly fishing enthusiasts.
Fishing for trout and salmon, including Atlantic salmon and chinook salmon, in Georgian Bay yields particularly good results during the spring and fall seasons. Anglers find success targeting trophy-sized pike and large smallmouth bass, especially using techniques like worm harnesses and crankbaits.
Underwater reefs and shoals, especially along Georgian Bay’s east side ‘Thirty Thousand Islands’ area, are hot spots for finding a variety of fish species. The thrill of big-water fishing, targeting powerful lake trout and leaping salmon, is an experience Lake Huron proudly offers.
Rainy Lake: Western Ontario’s Hidden Gem
Tucked away in western Ontario is a hidden gem – Rainy Lake. Recognized for its world-class fishing, Rainy Lake is home to:
- Trophy smallmouth bass
- Northern pike
The north arm’s rich landscape of pine forests, rock outcroppings, underwater reefs, and lush cabbage beds provide optimal habitats for these fish. The onset of spring in early May is a popular time for fishing Rainy Lake’s aggressive, pre-spawn smallmouth bass.
Rainy Lake offers not only fishing but a comprehensive experience. The lake straddles the border between Minnesota and Ontario and features some of North America’s finest drive-to fishing waters. Visitors can explore the lake from a houseboat, hike along the Recreation Trail, or engage in winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
In addition to fishing, Rainy Lake offers:
- Diverse bird species and habitats, earning it global recognition as a birding spot
- Accommodations like Camp Narrows Lodge, which offer quintessential wilderness fishing experiences
- Other amenities like lodging, boat launches, and boat repair that are easily accessible
Lake Nipigon: Home to Record-Breaking Brook Trout
World’s largest brook trout was recorded in Lake Nipigon. Located approximately 120 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay, Lake Nipigon is the largest lake entirely within the boundaries of Ontario, with a surface area of 4,848 km². But it’s not just about size; the lake is home to various fish species, including:
- brook trout
- lake trout
This makes it a legendary spot for fantastic brown trout fishing, as well as lake trout fishing, known for world-record catches, including migratory steelhead rainbow trout and rainbow trout.
The crown jewel of Lake Nipigon is undoubtedly the World Record Brook Trout, weighing 14.5 pounds and measuring 31.5 inches in length. This impressive catch was made in the Nipigon River, a tributary of Lake Nipigon, by Dr. Cook in 1915. Though the original skin mount of this record-breaking Brook Trout was lost in a fire in 1990, a replica and some remnants are still displayed at Nipigon’s Historical Museum.
Algonquin Provincial Park: Canoe-Tripper’s Fishing Paradise
Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario serves as a paradise for canoe-trippers. It houses an abundance of brook trout and lake trout, thriving in its remote and pristine lakes. A perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Algonquin offers a unique canoeing experience while you try your luck at catching these elusive fish.
The park has five main fishing trails, each offering a unique experience. The trails are:
- Paddling around Kearney Lake
- Backpacking along the Highland Trail
- Hiking the River Trail
- Fishing from the shore at Sunset Point
- Exploring the fishing spots along the Marsh Trail
Every trail is a route to a potential catch. The park also undertakes sustainable fish population management through research conducted by the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research. Anglers can use these publications to enhance their fishing trips and contribute to a sustainable fishing future in the park.
Kawartha Lakes: A Mix of Warm- and Cold-Water Fish
A variety of warm- and cold-water fish species make Kawartha Lakes their home. Some of the fish species you can find in this region include:
- Largemouth and smallmouth bass
- Northern pike
The Trent Severn Waterway is part of the legendary Kawarthas lake system, offering access to a variety of fish species.
A popular fishing spot in Kawartha Lakes is Buckhorn Lake, known for its bass fishing. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, the mix of warm- and cold-water fish in Kawartha Lakes promises an exciting fishing adventure, with the lure of a potential trophy catch at every cast.
Ottawa River: History, Culture, and Fishing Combined
Once a bustling trade route for early Canadians and Europeans, the Ottawa River now presents a unique fusion of history, culture, and fishing. It serves as a natural boundary between Ontario and Quebec, carrying a significant historical and geographical weight. Since the 19th century, the Ottawa River has transformed into a vibrant tourist destination, known for white-water rafting, fishing, and various recreational pursuits.
Today, anglers flock to the Ottawa River to target a rich array of fish species, including brook trout, bass, and pike. With a fishing rod in one hand and a sense of adventure in the other, anglers can learn about the river’s rich past while waiting for the next big catch.
Muskoka Lakes: Rustic Fishing Escapes
For rustic fishing getaways, look no further than the Muskoka Lakes region. Here, you can:
- Catch lake trout, bass, and pike while immersing yourself in the beautiful scenery and cozy accommodations.
- After a day out on the water, retreat to the comfort of Colonial Bay Motel and Cottages for a spa experience, or indulge in luxury at the JW Marriott.
- For those seeking a good lodging experience, Tally-Ho Inn, Walker Lake Resort, and Black Lake Cabins are other excellent choices.
Blue Water Acres combines rustic charm with convenience, being near Huntsville for shopping and dining, and also serving as a base for visiting Algonquin Park. So, whether you’re an angler seeking solitude or a family looking for a fishing vacation, Muskoka Lakes has something for everyone.
Trent Severn Waterway: A Unique Fishing Journey
A unique fishing journey awaits at the Trent Severn Waterway. It boasts an abundance of key fish species such as walleye, bass, and muskie, making it a renowned fishing destination. Anglers can also reel in northern pike and enjoy the rich biodiversity of the waterway, including opportunities to catch jumbo perch, rock bass, pumpkinseed, and bluegill sunfish.
Fishing on the Trent Severn Waterway is not just about the catch; it’s also about the cultural experience. The waterway is dotted with cultural attractions like local BBQ pit stops, integrating the outdoor experience with local community culture. So, as you navigate through the waterway, you’re not just on a fishing trip – you’re on a journey through the heart of Ontario.
Local Rules and Regulations: Fish Responsibly
Understanding local rules and regulations is the first step towards responsible fishing in Ontario. Here are the key requirements:
- Anglers in Ontario can purchase an Outdoors Card and fishing license online, in person, or by phone. These are required for individuals 18 years and older.
- Those under 18 can fish without a license if accompanied by a licensed adult.
- While fishing, an angler must carry their valid Outdoors Card and a Licence Summary listing their valid fishing license.
Ontario divides its fishing regulations across 20 Fisheries Management Zones, each with specific rules for open seasons, catch limits, and size restrictions. These measures are in place to maintain ecological balance and sustainability. Anglers must adhere to the following regulations:
- Catch limits and possession limits, which consider the total allowable catch count
- Size restrictions to ensure that fish have the opportunity to reach spawning size
- Avoid using methods that could harm the fish or delay release for non-essential purposes like photography
Tackle Shops and Equipment Essentials
Known for their friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable staff, tackle shops in Ontario are well-stocked with a wide range of fishing gear to accommodate anglers of all levels. A wide range of bait and tackle suited for Ontario’s fishing conditions can be found across numerous shops, from specialized stores like ProJ Fishing Tackle in Toronto to extensive ranges at Bass Pro in the York region.
Anglers also have the convenience of renting boats and motors at multiple locations such as Manitoulin Island and the Port Perry Marina. Some tackle shops in Ontario offer unique services like in-house repair shops and the option to order specific gear not found in-store for their customers.
Hiring a Fishing Charter: Simplify Your Adventure
To simplify your fishing adventure, consider hiring a fishing charter. Getmyboat offers a platform via its app or website for anglers to find and book fishing charters in Ontario. A variety of options are available on Getmyboat based on location, price, and services for different fishing charters, including boats like a 20’ T-Top Center Console, a 2022 Starcraft Big Fish Aluminium Fishing Boat, and private cruises on Lake Ontario.
Getmyboat provides a user-friendly, step-by-step booking process and 24/7 customer service support for both boat owners and renters. Users can read reviews from previous renters and are protected by renter identity verification and fraud protection. So, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, hiring a fishing charter can help you focus on the joy of fishing while leaving the logistics to the experts.
From the smallmouth bass of Lake Erie to the shipwrecks of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater island in Lake Huron, and the record-breaking brook trout of Lake Nipigon, Ontario’s waters offer a multitude of fishing experiences.
Whether you’re exploring the hidden gem of Rainy Lake, canoe-tripping in Algonquin Provincial Park, or embarking on a unique fishing journey on the Trent Severn Waterway, Ontario’s fishing lakes promise an angler’s paradise. So, pack your fishing gear, respect local regulations, and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in Ontario!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best fishing on Lake Ontario?
The Bay of Quinte on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario is known for offering some of the best year-round fishing, particularly for Walleye, Pike, Bass, and Perch. Ice fishing opportunities are also available during the winter months.
How to find stocked lakes in Ontario?
You can find stocked lakes in Ontario by checking your fish regulation book under “Additional opportunities.” These smaller lakes are regularly stocked with Brook Trout, Splake, or Rainbow Trout, and have no size restrictions or closed season. Happy fishing!
What is unique about fishing in Lake Erie?
Fishing in Lake Erie is unique because of its globally renowned smallmouth bass fishing, made possible by the lake’s ideal habitat with rocky structures, ledges, and drop-offs. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, Lake Erie is definitely worth a visit!
What makes Lake Superior a unique fishing destination?
Lake Superior offers a distinctive fishing experience with a variety of fish species and the opportunity for historical shipwreck exploration, making it a unique destination for anglers.
When is the best time to fish in Rainy Lake?
The best time to fish in Rainy Lake is the onset of spring in early May when the aggressive, pre-spawn smallmouth bass are popular to catch. Happy fishing!