Freshwater Fishing in Canada

Best Fishing Locations in Canada

With its truly massive size, Canada is an extremely vast country that offers an unlimited variety of fishing options to the traveling outdoor enthusiast.

In a matter of weeks, fishermen from all over North America will begin their annual migration across the Canadian border like Atlantic salmon on a spawning run up the Miramichi River. If you are one of these lucky anglers you’re practically intoxicated with a longing for the tug of a nice walleye, the power of a big pike ripping line off your reel, and the smell of freshly caught fish, frying in a pan on the shores of a Canadian Lake.

Without exception, Canada is the prime destination for the very best in sport fishing. We’re home to the true anglers, whether their passion is trolling, casting or fly-fishing – and the trophy catches are the reason!

Alberta

Alberta is a fisherman’s paradise, with more than 600 lakes, 245 rivers, and 315 spring-fed creeks and ponds. Experts and novices will find plenty of opportunities to put their casting, trolling, and fly-fishing skills to work. Fishing Regulations in Alberta

Fish of Alberta

  • Arctic Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Stream Trout

Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada contains the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and lastly Newfoundland and Labrador. These provinces offer world-class Atlantic salmon and brook trout, among other fish species.

Fish of Atlantic Canada

  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye

British Columbia

British Columbia is Canada’s westernmost province, set between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. Blessed with breathtaking landscapes, BC is home to world-class fishing and hunting adventures, with mountains, lakes, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean all calling out to be explored.

Canada’s top lodges and outfitters are found on the coastal shore and interior wilderness lakes and rivers. There are more than 12,000 miles of coastline, 25,000 lakes, and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams. Fishing Regulations for British Columbia

Fish of British Columbia

  • Arctic Grayling
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Dolly Varden
  • Halibut
  • Stream Trout
  • Sturgeon

Manitoba

This province was also an early leader in the concept of Catch and Release. In fact, its Master Angler program recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Master Angler program rewards anglers for catching trophy-sized fish. In keeping with Manitobans’ desire to preserve their natural habitats for future generations, nearly 90% of Master Angler-sized fish were caught and then released back to the wild. With that being said, the potential for catching a truly trophy-sized fish skyrockets the second you cross the border into Manitoba.

Just over the border from Minnesota, Manitoba offers some of North America’s premier outdoor experiences, including trophy fishing for walleye, northern pike, brook trout, and lake trout. Adventurers can also view Polar bears and Beluga whales. Fishing Regulations in Manitoba

Fish of Manitoba

  • Arctic Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Stream Trout
  • Walleye

Northwest Territories

A territory so diverse that the government recognizes 11 official languages, the Northwest Territories are equally diverse in world-class fishing and hunting opportunities. Lodging ranges from luxury lodges on proven lakes and waterways, to do-it-yourself cabins in areas accessible only by bush plane.

Anglers can expect abundant lake trout, char, northern pike, and arctic grayling. Fishing Regulations in the Northwest Territories

Fish

  • Arctic Char
  • Arctic Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike

Nunavut

At one time included in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut stretches across Canada’s eastern and central Arctic, over one million square miles of land and water, comprising about one-fifth of the area of Canada at the top of the world.

Nunavut could be one of the most unique adventure destinations in all of North America. Hunt or fish here, and you’ll have your choice of accommodations, from roughing it in a tent to comfortably bunking at a wilderness lodge. Arctic char and lake trout are the main attractions for anglers. Fishing Regulations in Nunavut

Fish of Nunavut

  • Arctic Char
  • Arctic Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike

Ontario

A choice of more than 400,000 lakes, rivers, and streams give visitors to Ontario more types of freshwater fishing opportunities than anywhere else on earth. Take your pick of accommodations, from rustic and remote fly-in wilderness fishing camps to luxurious lakeside cabins close to city excitement. In either case, anglers will have access to walleye, lake trout, northern pike, and bass. Fishing Regulations in Ontario

Fish of Ontario

  • Lake Trout
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Stream Trout
  • Walleye

Québec

For anglers traveling to Québec, the most exciting challenge is salmon fishing. Atlantic salmon is found on 115 of Québec’s extraordinary rivers and is an extremely precious resource, protected and controlled to ensure its survival. Fishing Regulations in Québec

Fish of Québec

  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Northern Pike
  • Lake Trout
  • Walleye

Saskatchewan

Located directly to the north of the Montana and North Dakota borders, Saskatchewan puts authentic Canadian adventure within easy reach of both novices and experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

Some of the world’s finest trophy walleye, northern pike, and lake trout have been pulled from Saskatchewan’s waters as well — close to 100,000 lakes and rivers covering almost 1/3 of the province. Fishing Regulations in Saskatchewan

Fish of Saskatchewan

  • Arctic Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Walleye

Yukon Territory

Don’t underestimate the Yukon when it comes to the true wilderness; it’s larger than California and home to only 32,000 residents. This gigantic landscape makes the Yukon a world-class wilderness destination.

Fishing’s a good bet too, with brooks and rivers chock full of arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, and trout. Yukon lodges tend to be smaller and simpler in comparison to those in other parts of Canada, but the accommodations are in no way lacking in regards to food, comfort, and hospitality. Fishing Regulations in Yukon Territory

Fish of the Yukon Territory

  • Arctic Grayling
  • Dolly Varden
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Stream Trout

Freshwater Fish in Canada

In the Canadian territories and provinces, you’ll find:

Arctic Char

Fresh and saltwater Arctic char are found in tributaries of the Arctic Ocean, including the Tree River and Victoria Island. This great-tasting fish is a relative of the lake trout and often weigh-in at over 20 lbs.

Arctic Grayling

Arctic Grayling are found in the clear cold lakes and rivers of northern Canada, primarily north of the 55th parallel. You’ll find this beautiful and delicate fish in rapids and along rocky shoreline hitting tiny spoons and inline spinners. The Grayling’s supersized dorsal fin makes it one of the hardest fighting fish on the planet. Trophy Grayling start at 18 to 20 inches.

Atlantic Salmon

Reaching up to 35 lbs., trophy Atlantic salmon is said to be the hardest fighting fish in the world (though muskie and smallmouth anglers may disagree.) Atlantic salmon are found seasonally in the tributaries that feed the Atlantic Ocean.

Brook Trout

The smallest of the stream/river trout, brook trout reach up to 7 lbs. in the remote parts of Canada. Highly prized for its brilliant colors and hard fight, brook trout are popular with fly fishing enthusiasts.

Brown Trout

Brown trout are fairly common in slow Canadian streams along foothills. The brown trout is now an important species in sport fishing, as they readily adapt to areas where the smaller brook trout struggle to survive.

Cutthroat Trout

Named for the bright red-orange streak in the fold under the mouth, cutthroat trout are native to the mountain and foothill streams of southern British Columbia and Alberta. Cutthroats prefer colder water than do the closely related rainbow trout and spawn in the spring. They’re generally caught on artificial flies, small spoons, and spinners.

Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden, or bull trout, are highly prized by fly-fishing enthusiasts. Terrific fighters, Dollys strike readily at nearly anything offered, from tackle to natural baits. During the spring, try small spinning lures in lake outlet streams. Coastal streams in August and September can produce excellent fishing for those using spinning lures or a single salmon egg bounced along the bottom.

Halibut

Halibut are among the largest fish in the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia and the largest of all the flatfish. They can grow to more than 8 ft long and 700 lbs. Locals call Halibut weighing in at more than 100 pounds “Whales”, “Soakers”, or even “Barn Doors”, while smaller halibut, less than 20 pounds, are often called “Chickens”. The largest halibut ever caught while sport fishing was 459 lbs and some have been known to live up to 40 years.. Halibut are caught by jigging live bait off the ocean bottom and are prized for its delicate sweet flavor, snow-white color, and firm flaky meat.

Lake Trout

Right at home in clear, cold waters, lake trout are a favorite game fish of the Canadian sport angler. Fishermen who pursue lake trout in the southern part of Canada do so in the spring and fall when they can be targeted in shallower water. Elsewhere, the trout are caught either by trolling or by casting spoons and vertical jigging over deep water.

Muskellunge

Canada has some of the top musky lakes in the world and it is not uncommon to catch several per day. Ontario is their primary home, where they are prevalent in the Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake, Lac Seul, and the Georgian Bay area of Lake Huron, as well as smaller, deep, clear cold lakes across the province. Musky fishing is almost exclusively catch-and-release in Canada.

Northern Pike

Northern pike inhabits almost every type of Canadian freshwater, from cold, deep lakes, to warm, shallow ponds, to muddy rivers. Northerns are an aggressive, solitary fish, popular for sport angling due to the fact they will bite at any time of day. Find them in large, healthy cabbage beds using spoons, spinners, and bucktails. In the warmest parts of the summer, trophy pike can be found by trolling large crankbaits over lake structure.

Rainbow Trout

This trout is an olive-green color with heavy black spotting over the length of the body. The adult fish has a red-colored stripe along the lateral line, from the gills to the tail. Rainbow trout in lakes are usually lighter colored or a more silvery color than those in streams.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass thrives in the cold, structure-rich waters of Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Manitoba — Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake and others. Almost all Canadian smallmouth bass fishing is catch and release.

Stream Trout

For the purpose of helping you plan an adventure, we use the term stream trout to clearly identify how you wish to pursuit brook, rainbow (cutthroat or steelhead) brown, even lake trout; as well as Dolly Varden, arctic char, and arctic grayling. In general, stream and river fishing in Canada, for all these species provide trophy opportunities in pristine and remote areas.

Sturgeon

The largest, most powerful fish in North American inland waters, sturgeon spend the majority of their time in estuaries of clean rivers with moderate currents along the Pacific coast and in the entry-points of coastal rivers to spawn. The best baits are cut fish, shrimp, and large clusters of nightcrawlers.

Walleye

Walleye are Canada’s number one game fish and are abundant in lakes and rivers throughout the country. The best strategy to catch walleye in Canada is to back troll a spinner and bottom-bouncer to cover large areas, and once walleye are found, to fish with jig and minnow.

Leave a Comment