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Ontario Fly Fishing Destinations

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Ontario Fly Fishing Destinations

Erin and John Grace with a 41-inch northern Pike from Northern Ontario’s Lake St. Joseph. • Credit: Scott Earl Smith

A fly fisher names his top 5 destinations for fly fishing in Ontario

During more than a quarter-century of fly fishing across the province, I've found places that continually draw me back. From remote wilderness fly-ins in the Hudson Bay lowlands to accessible waters close to Toronto, Ontario has something to offer every fly angler:

Grand River

The Grand is a fly fishing mecca an hour and a half west of Toronto. Here, chunky brown trout sip dainty flies off the surface of this easily waded, fertile, fly-fishing-only section of river. Top guides from Grindstone Angling Specialties can get you into some beautiful browns in short order. Downstream from the Brant Conservation Area South of Paris, the Grand can be floated for some spectacular smallmouth and steelhead. I’ve managed to dupe some very nice brown trout on the Grand and I’m always amazed at how such a prolific fishery exists so close to a metropolis.

Grand River Brown trout on grasshopper pattern from southern Ontario’s Grand River.
Grand River Brown trout on grasshopper pattern from southern Ontario’s Grand River.

Sutton River

In stark contrast to the Grand, the Sutton River flows through 60 desolate miles of Hudson Bay Lowlands through Polar Bear Provincial Park near where Hudson and James Bay meet. Limestone occurrences in the headwaters make for prolific insect hatches in the fertile Sutton. I’ve fished it twice and saw polar bears each time. I also caught so many brook trout I started playing a game to see if I could cast out and not catch a fish. Best brook trout fishing in the world, bar none.

Albany River

The Albany is a major James Bay tributary traversing hundreds of miles of boreal forest in Northern Ontario. You can drive to its headwaters and fish with Old Post Lodge on Lake St. Joseph, or fly in via Wilderness North to one of several full-service or outpost camps on the Albany and its tributaries. Northern pike as long as your leg and brook trout the size of footballs are big attractions for fly anglers, along with prolific walleye throughout the system.

Nipigon River

The Nipigon is the home of the world-record brook trout at 14.5 pounds, and still boasts double-digit brookies. I guided here for several years and saw brook trout of this magnitude caught and released on this powerful, majestic Lake Superior tributary. Stringent harvest regulations ensure brook trout exceeding 5 pounds or 20 inches are a daily occurrence. Steelhead, salmon and  whitefish keep you in the fight all day long. Guide services on the Nipigon include Nipigon River Adventures.

Scott Earl Smith with a good-sized pike from Northwestern Ontario’s Wabigoon Lake
Scott Earl Smith with a good-sized pike from Northwestern Ontario’s Wabigoon Lake.

Wabigoon Lake

The murky water of Wabigoon Lake is a veritable trophy factory for shallow-water walleye, smallmouth, pike, musky and crappie. You can drive right to Merkel’s Camp along the Trans Canada Highway and be casting a popper fly within minutes of your arrival. Everything is big on “The Goon”. This is an ideal location for a do-it-yourself, family-and-friend trip where you can fry your own catch of walleye and have a crack at a record-book musky on a fly rod.

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