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Ontario Parks

Fishing at Ontario Parks

Ontario Parks offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the world. Whether you are a seasoned expert, a first timer or somewhere in between you can find a great fishing experience in Ontario Parks.

Boat launching facilities and trailer parking are available in many parks and can be accessed with a daily vehicle permit, seasonal permit or camping permit. If you are visiting a park and want to venture further from shore consider canoe and other water craft rentals at more than 75 parks. For those that have never fished, or would like some instructional assistance – 6 parks offer a Learn to Fish program complete with all the necessary fishing gear. And many parks offer loan of fishing rod and tackle as part of the OFAH/OPG Tackleshare program. If you are a non-swimmer, be safe around water and borrow a lifejacket at no charge through one of 67 parks offering PARKsmart - lifejackets lending services.

Selecting a Park for fishing?

If fishing is the reason for your visit, or just one activity of many you plan to enjoy at an Ontario Park, consider these helpful tips: Identify those facilities or services that you will require to enjoy your experience. Consider things like access to life jackets, boat rentals, OFAH/OPG Tackleshare, bait sales, or launching facilities. It is important to note that some parks do have motorboat restrictions on lakes, so keep that in mind if travelling with any motorized watercraft.

Consider your length of stay, and travel distances when selecting the right park for your fishing experience. Consider the type of experience you are looking for. Will you visit for a day to access a boat launch; or will you plan to pitch a tent for a night or two; maybe you will paddle into the interior wilderness for a week of solitude and shore lunches, or do you prefer the amenities available at one of Ontario Parks’ roofed accommodations? Consider the time of year you plan to visit a park. Although the busy summer months of July and August offer the best odds for nice weather these months also offer increased demand for campsites, boat rentals, launching facilities, and prime fishing holes. And ironically – the summer months are not always your best bets to catch fish. Some sport fish become less active, boat traffic increases and more anglers are competing for your big catch. Veteran anglers will tell you – the best sport fishing occurs in spring and fall.

Fishing is a year round activity offering different experiences and opportunities across all four seasons. Check out these seasonal fishing experiences available in Ontario Parks.

Spring:

Spring is a very active time of year for anglers and fish as ice melts, water flow increases and popular sport fish seasons open. Lake trout is a spring time favourite for avid and occasional anglers alike. April ice-out in Algonquin attracts anglers from all over for the opportunity to catch a spring “laker”. Algonquin’s unique designation as a fish sanctuary protects this fishery and restricts all angling prior to the fourth Saturday in April. This management practice ensures a strong and healthy population of lake trout in Algonquin Provincial Park.

Other species of trout like brook trout or rainbow trout can also be targeted in Algonquin and in cold water lakes and rivers across much of Ontario. Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, east of Timmins, offers 22 deep spring fed lakes, some of which are stocked with “brookies” and “rainbow”. This park opens for camping in mid-May; so put this one on your spring to-do list. Another lesser known, but still popular lake trout fishery can be found in Eastern Ontario in the cool deep waters of Charleston Lake Provincial Park. This park offers a full selection of camping opportunities and amenities ranging from back county sites, electrical sites, and yurts.

Another spring favourite is the opening of walleye season which should be marked on every angler’s calendar. Walleye, known by some as pickerel, are found right across Ontario from the great lakes basin to inland lakes and rivers in North East and North West Ontario. A very popular fishery for trophy walleye is the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario. Check out Sandbanks Provincial Park for great spring (or fall) roofed accommodations opportunities offering luxurious comfort by night, and big walleye fishing by day. For a near north experience with great fishing on the Ottawa River, Driftwood Provincial Park has great water access with refurbished launching and docking facilities.

Yes, it is true that walleye can be caught in most regions of Ontario, but any angler worth their weight in fishing tackle can attest to the fact that Northern Ontario is where the best walleye fisheries are found. Travel distances must be taken into account from southern Ontario, but if you get skunked spring walleye fishing in Northern Ontario, you might want to find a new hobby. Ivanhoe Lake, White Lake, Missinaibi Lake, Lake of the Woods, or Fushimi Lake all offer some of the best walleye fishing anywhere in the world. But don’t take our word for it…

If you’re an adventurous angler looking for that once in a lifetime spring fishing experience, put Wabakimi on your bucket list. This park offers incredible sport fishing for lake trout, or walleye on pristine wilderness lakes. Plan a 10 day paddling trip; connect with a local outfitter to fly-in; or book into a back county wilderness lodge. If you are planning that spring fishing trip into the interior of a back-country park, keep in mind that this time of year does require proper gear and preparation as water and air temperatures can still be very cold. Fortunately, many parks, including Algonquin, Windy Lake, and Silent Lake also offer a selection of roofed accommodations that make a great base camp for any group of anglers.

Summer:

Fishing from shore on a warm summers evening is a rite of passage for all kids, families, and Ontarians who visit our parks. Summer fishing may be some of the first memories many people have of camping, or enjoying the outdoors. In most Ontario provincial parks pan fish are plentiful along shorelines and offer a great introductory experience for a young or first time angler. Family friendly parks like Emily, Darlington, Six Mile Lake, Grundy Lake, and Earl Rowe offer OFAH/OPG Tackleshare, Learn to Fish programs, and PARKsmart – lifejacket lending services. At these parks all the gear and instruction you need for a safe and fun filled day of fishing is available.

But summer fishing is not just for the first timer. In fact, the beginning of summer coincides with opening season for one of Ontario’s most popular sport fish – bass. Small and large mouth bass are abundant across Ontario with some lakes hosting professional tournaments. Any die-hard bass master will tell you - pound for pound, few fish put up the fight of a bass. These fish hit hard and are renowned for big jumps and lots of splashing. Trophy small mouth bass can reach weights approaching ten pounds, but anything in the five pound range will put a smile on your face for a month. Ontario provincial parks are the gateway to many great bass fisheries. Anglers looking for deep level launches, with ample parking for truck and trailer should consider the following parks: Sibbald Point on Lake Simcoe, Balsam Lake at the top of the Kawartha Lakes, or Emily on Pigeon River. If your summer fishing philosophy is “bigger is better” then you might want to visit one of Ontario’s northern parks – home to the northern pike. Pike are found extensively across Ontario but nowhere are big pike more prevalent than large northern lakes. Pike can reach weights of more than 40 lbs. and are commonly caught in excess of 15lbs or 20lbs. These aggressive predators will not hesitate to hit a lure cast over a weed bed on a summer’s afternoon. Brush up on your filleting skills to remove that ‘Y’ bone on the back of a pike fillet – and you will eat well all week. Best bets for a trophy pike: Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater, Missinaibi, Sioux Narrows, Ojibway, French River, Ivanhoe Lake, or Marten River. Fishing is so prevalent at any of these parks you will also find opportunities to target walleye, bass or trout.

Fall:

Shhh… fall is the best kept secret at Ontario Parks and the fishing is great! Prime campsites and facilities are less busy, bugs are non-existent, temperatures are comfortable, and most species of fish are active. Fall is the time of year to set up trolling rigs and float around Ontario’s landscapes. Trout, walleye, pike, bass and the most infamous of fresh water monsters – muskellunge - aka, Muskie, are all prime species to target in fall. Ontario’s record Muskie, weighing in at 65lbs. and measuring 58 inches was caught in Blackstone Harbour in what is now The Massasauga Provincial Park. This water-access park offers interior paddling opportunities on Spider and Clear Lakes, and boat in campsites along inlet bays of Georgian Bay. Great Muskie fishing can also be found throughout the Kawartha Lakes with park access points on Balsam Lake to the north and Emily Provincial Park to the south on Pigeon River. Sections of the Ottawa River are also prime Muskie waters, with access from Voyageur at the east end of the river and Driftwood Provincial Park toward the western head waters of the river. The Ottawa River offers one of the most diverse fishing experiences in Ontario, and can offer a more remote experience in upper Ottawa Valley.

OFAH/OPG – Tackleshare:

The OFAH/OPG Tackleshare program is offered in more than 55 parks, giving beginners an opportunity to borrow a rod and tackle. Equipment is loaned at no charge.

Other helpful fishing tips:

It is the angler’s responsibility to know what species are in season and fish possession limits. Consult the Ontario Fishing regulations before planning your fishing trip. Kids 17 and under and adults 65 and over do not require a fishing license, but all other anglers must ensure they possess a valid Ontario fishing license. Many lakes in, or partially within provincial parks have restrictions on the use of live bait – consult the Ontario Fishing regulations and be aware of these restrictions - they prevent the movement of harmful invasive species into our lakes and rivers.

Know your local weather forecast, and be prepared for the conditions. Temperatures on or around water are often cooler, and the flat open area of a water body is more susceptible to strong winds. Consider your options for accessing the water; fishing opportunities maybe available from shore, docks, canoe, kayaks, or powerboats. When targeting a species of fish, consider things like water depths, water currents water temperature, light conditions, bait, and structure under the water. These are all important variables impacting when and where you will find different species of fish.