To see the gorge, considered to be Ontario’s Grand Canyon, is truly something to behold. No matter the season, stepping to the edge of the cliff induces butterflies each and every time you do it. And what lies in the bottom of the gorge is equally impressive. It runs almost emerald green with patches of white-water rapids almost placed strategically to keep you honest in its sheer power. The power of the Mighty Mighty—the Niagara River!
As the cliché “world class” is used throughout our sport often used explaining a good to really good fishery, I’m here to tell you that the Niagara literally is just that: World Class. All year long, there is always something to target in the Niagara. With incredible steelhead fishing both from boat and bank, to trophy walleye and even the apex predator of the great lakes—the mighty musky—Niagara is chock full of fish.
We are on the Niagara river in the fall in search of two fantastic sportfish species, brown trout, and the sliver bullet of the Niagara, the steelhead. The only difference between how we are fishing versus literally everyone else on the river is, we’re fishing with flies. Most everyone else fishes with egg sacs on a three-way rig or a centrepin from the bank.
Fly fishing the Niagara is best done from a boat, and is also possible from shore utilizing a switch rod or one heck of a roll cast! Our method was via boat utilizing the professional guiding services of Aldo Nava from Niagara Fishing Adventures. Aldo is a seasoned 365 guide on the Niagara and the surrounding waters of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Aldo is a Fly Fisher, so is dialed into what fly anglers are looking for with respect to a guided trip. His boat is well equipped to handle fly anglers, as is his flybox! Aldo suggested we start with balanced leeches under an indicator, which quickly produced a fantastic brown trout on the first drift!
Very quickly after release of our first brown, the bite turned off. It was a little while before we were able to figure out what the switch was with the fish. The water was slowly clearing from big winds the days before our arrival. See, an east wind stirs up Lake Erie (upstream from the falls), and all that dirty water goes over the falls and eventually makes its way to Lake Ontario. We had to move to a more natural presentation. Sparse minnow patterns in purple was the ticket. It wasn’t long before we hooked into something BIG!
This fantastic steelhead is typical of the Niagara river with average fish in the 8- to 12- pound range and some pushing 20! They jump, dog you down, make big runs, and generally try to flip you the fin. In the river, there are smaller baitfish such as shiners and smelt eating brown trout, salmon, and lake trout eggs. This was the piece of the puzzle we figured as the steelhead were in opportunistically eating those species gorging on eggs. We all switched to custom tied streamer patterns supplied by Aldo, and lit it up for the rest of the trip with multiple brown trout added to the mix.
The Mighty Mighty Niagara River is one to be respected due to its sheer size and volume of water being sucked out of Lake Erie. It’s a BIG river with random hydraulics that, if you’re not experienced, could be big trouble. That’s why having pro guides like Aldo Nava is key to safely navigating this world class river! With the town of Niagara Falls literally right where you fish, travelling to and accessing the Niagara River is easy and economical, not to mention the fishing is unreal!