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Steelhead of the Upper Ganaraska

Pete holds up one of his first catches of the season. • Credit: Fish'n Canada
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Steelhead of the Upper Ganaraska

This river is known to most trout and salmon anglers as one of Ontario’s most popular fishing destinations.

It’s been quite some time since the Fish’n Canada team has put a river Steelhead show together. With this slice of sport-fishing being so popular, we had to “don the waders” and hit the river.


The water that Pete fished for this episode was the upper portion of the Ganaraska River. The “Ganny,” as it’s known to most trout and salmon anglers, is one of Ontario’s most popular fishing destinations.

The Upper Ganaraska is trout heaven

The Ganaraska River is a river in Northumberland County and the Regional Municipality of Durham in Southern Ontario. It is part of the Great Lakes Basin and is a tributary of Lake Ontario, which it reaches at the town of Port Hope.

Notice the small group of fish in the upper part of the photo just off the right bank?

The Ganny is a year-round fish factory. It has a great Steelhead/Rainbow Trout run in the spring (and fall to a lesser extent), a fantastic Chinook Salmon run in the late summer, and into the fall, occasional Brown Trout are caught in the cooler water periods. There’s also an array of other species like Large and Smallmouth Bass, Pike, Carp, Catfish, and the list goes on.

“I spent a fair portion of my life living in Port Hope,” says Pete, “and there were always anglers dotting the bank of the Ganny at any given time.”

It’s the opening of trout season, however, that draws in the hordes of anxiously waiting anglers to this hotspot. It’s the first opener of the season for a larger species of fish… and a true fighter at that!


There were packs of fish throughout this stretch of the river

As you move upriver on the Ganaraska, public land becomes less and less available to anglers. Most of the upper river is private property, and permission must be obtained to access the river legally.

Luckily, fishing fanatic Kevin Ritza got hold of us a couple of seasons ago offering access to his family-owned property on the Ganny.

“It took a while,” says Pete, “but Kevin and I finally got this shoot into the calendar.”

They chose the week after opening weekend where the fish would be somewhat fresh. We say somewhat because Kevin and a group of buddies hit this portion of the river on an annual boy’s weekend… and who wouldn’t!


Kevin Ritza holds up a gorgeous spring Ganny Rainbow

It didn’t take the guys long to start tying into the fish.

“I believe Kevin hit his first Steelhead on his first or second drift!” says Pete.

Pete started out a bit rusty (10-foot rods with 6-lb line isn’t what he’s used to), but in quick order, he came around.

Spawn (roe) bags under floats were the ticket… nothing else was needed.

They ended up catching more than enough fish for an episode, as well as shooting some great bonus video for internet tips, etc.

Lots of fish this size were spread throughout the area

Remember, by obtaining permission from a landowner, you too can access some of the greatest untapped fishing in your area. It’s worth a knock on a door.


Here are some more Ontario rivers spread throughout the province that we feel are classic trout waters:

  • The Saugeen River begins in the Osprey Wetland Conservation Lands and flows generally north/west about 160 km (99 miles) before emptying into Lake Huron.
  • The Bighead River flows from the Niagara Escarpment and empties into Nottawasaga Bay on Georgian Bay.
  • The St. Marys River is a diverse fishery that drains Lake Superior, starting at the end of Whitefish Bay and flowing 120 km (74.5 miles) southeast into Lake Huron. It also borders Canada and the USA.
  • The Nipigon River is known more for its world-class Brook Trout fishing, but it has a great Steelhead population at different times. The lower stretch which empties into Lake Superior has an excellent run both spring and fall. Look for small feeder creeks and rivers that empty into the main river.

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