Ontario’s name is derived from a Huron word meaning “great lake,” and, in addition to our province’s namesake lake (named Lake Great Lake, apparently), we’ve got over 250,000 freshwater bodies of water around the province. Among these, there are hundreds of hidden fishing hotspots waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking for a quick escape from home, some of the country’s best fishing is waiting just outside your doorstep. Looking for something more adventurous? Consider a fly-in fishing spot for a true wilderness retreat. Here are a few of the best from both categories.
Red Lake and Ear Falls
The bitter end of Highway 105 marks the beautiful start to a fisherman’s hidden haven. The well-stocked lakes system acts as a gateway to Woodland-Caribou Provincial Park. Backwoods anglers will love this area. Four-wheel drive and an adventurous spirit are a must to reach some of the best-hidden spots. This year’s early ice-out means the lake’s walleye populations spawned well before season opener. Expect every day on the water to be successful.
Species Available: Walleye, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Lake Trout
Distance from Toronto: 2,102 km - a 26 hour drive. Flying in is your best bet.
Degree of Bushwhacking: Very little involved to reach the easiest spots, but to reach a secret haven all your own – be prepared to forge your own path through the woods.
Don’t underestimate this crystal clear lake. There are hundreds of deep, dark bays filled with unexpected surprises. Miles of shoreline provide extraordinary possibilities for both the experienced angler and the novice fisher alike. Located in the heart of Sunset Country, the abundance of cliffs, bays, and shallow shores provide fishermen with their bounty, no matter how rough the weather. With only one major outfitter on the lake, anticipate plenty of privacy, solitude, and variety.
Species Available: Whitefish, Musky, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass
Distance from Toronto: 1,968 km – easiest to fly to Minnesota and then brave the long drive inland.
Degree of Bushwhacking: An adventurous spirit that doesn’t mind a couple mosquito bites is definitely a requirement to visit the secluded lake.
This lake can be easily passed by and forgotten amidst the thousands of lakes in Muskoka. Located between several provincial parks, Sparrow Lake is filled with dozens of shallow bays and feeding grounds. Although it’s accessible by road, most anglers drive right past this excellent fishery. The abundance of resorts and lodges on the shore makes arranging long stays a cinch – and with the fish you’re sure to land, you’ll definitely want to arrange a long stay.
Species Available: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye
Distance from Toronto: 156 km
Degree of Bushwhacking: Nicely located just off the highway, the most bushwhacking will be finding a parking spot by the lake.
The Lower Grand River
Just a short trip from the GTA, the Upper Grand River is a well-known spot for fly-fishing with a wide variety of fish. The designated Canadian Heritage River contains over 50 percent of the fish species found in Canada, and is a well-known spot for anglers. However, the Lower Grand River, between Dunville and Lake Erie, is still an incredibly underrated fishery. Locals claim that, on an average day, you’ll boat about 10 catfish and the area is just as good as any other well-known spot, like the Red River in Manitoba. This up-and-coming fishery is only just beginning to receive the hype it deserves and remains uncongested in even the best spots.
Species Available: Catfish, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass
Distance from Toronto: 121 km
Degree of Bushwhacking: Unless you consider the QEW the wilderness, there is no bushwhacking required to reach this spot.