woman holding trout

Quetico’s trout ponds: hidden in plain sight

Today’s post comes from James Burns, a conservation officer and former Quetico Provincial Park interior ranger.

Quetico Provincial Park is a cool place for a lot of reasons.

If you’re reading this, you probably know that already.

But this article is about something that may not be appreciated by those of you who are already here for the fishing.

So listen up, fish nerds, because I’m going to share some insider info.

man holding fish in canoe

Quetico holds one of the highest concentrations of Lake Trout lakes in Canada, south of the Northwest Territories.

More than 15% of all lakes larger than 10 ha in Quetico are known to have trout, compared to 1% of the lakes across Ontario.

It’s cool because Lake Trout literally require very cool water to live year-round.

Given how far south Quetico lies on the map, it is amazing these fish are here at all, let alone in such a high concentration.

The best part? Some of the smallest lakes on the map have the highest populations of Lake Trout.

Speaking of maps… grab one now!

Amok, Cone, Cullen, and Hoare are a few little lakes that hold significant populations of Lake Trout. Not exactly destination lakes for the park’s fishing contingent – but they should be.

man holding fish in canoe

If you want to catch a 5 lb Lake Trout in 15 feet of water in July, you should check out Ferguson Lake.

The eastern basin of the lake consists of shallow water, making it uninhabitable for Lake Trout in the summer. However the western basin is deep, making it a perfect sanctuary for Lake Trout when the weather gets hot.

group canoe fishing

With no bass to dominate the upper regions of the lake’s ecosystem, the Lake Trout are free to make time-limited forays into the shallows, briefly populating that vacuum, before darting back to their deep, cool sanctuaries.

Unfortunately, when I looked at a map for some lakes to point out, I had to skip a few of my favourites because they are too small to have a name.

hands holding fish

If these lakes were outside of the park and had road access, they would be closed to fishing because of the vulnerability of their trout populations.

Yet within Quetico, I doubt that more than a few people wet a line there on any given year and those who do so are casting the shore for bass.

But here’s the thing: there are no bass

These little lakes are the last of the remote sanctuaries that have escaped their introduction.

collage of group fishing

This is what allows Lake Trout to dominate in both the deep and shallow water ecosystems in the winter and the summer.

As the old saying goes: nature abhors a vacuum.

man holding fish

What I’m trying to emphasize is that Quetico offers some of the best trout fishing you’ve ever had, and you might paddle right past it.

Be on the lookout for Lake Trout

So the next time you’re paddling from one “destination” lake to the next, stop and look at what’s beneath you.

If the water is clear and deep enough that you can’t see the bottom, it might hold Lake Trout!

two people fishing from canoe with dog

Take a few seconds, drop a line, and get ready. You might be in for some of the best fishing of your life!

A few reminders for responsible fishing in Quetico:

  • angling with barbed hooks is prohibited. If you bring barbed hooks, please pinch them down
  • use only artificial lures
  • do not discard plastic baits or fishing line in the water or on shorelines
  • consider using lead-free tackle
  • for catch limits and seasons remember Quetico is in Fisheries Management Zone 5

Looking for a recipe for your catch of the day? Check out this blog.