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Five Must-Fish Trout Lakes

Gord Ellis senior with a trophy Lake trout caught from Ontario’s Lake Nipigon. • Credit: Gord Ellis
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Five Must-Fish Trout Lakes

These are five lakes you have to try in Ontario



Ontario is so blessed with wonderful lake trout fisheries that picking five is a tough call. But here are some that I feel confident would live up to even the most jaded angler’s expectations.

Lake Nipigon

Lake Nipigon is Ontario’s best trophy lake trout destination. This huge, deep lake is the headwaters of the Great Lakes and remains as pristine as it was 100 years ago. Sway-bellied lake trout of 20-pounds or more are caught here regularly, but every season a fish topping 40-pounds is landed. Flatline trolling spoons or casting smelt-coloured jerk baits to shore is very effective for a couple of weeks after ice-out. In summer, most anglers downrig or use wireline with Canoe spoons, or J Plugs. Top lake trout spots include South Bay, Shakespeare Island and McIntyre Bay. A one-barbless-hook rule is in effect here.

Long Lake

Long Lake is an enormous, narrow reservoir that stretches nearly 100-km north to south. The mill town of Longlac is located on its north shore, but otherwise, it’s surrounded by inaccessible wilderness. Although much of the lake is shallow, there is a deep-water basin that holds huge, dark-coloured lake trout. Anglers downrigging in the summer do well pulling spoons like the Len Thompson and  William Whitefish. Lake trout here average about ten pounds but fish three times that size is possible.

White Otter Lake

Located north of the town of Atikokan, White Otter Lake has long been famous for its plentiful lake trout. The lake is super clear and very deep. Vertical jigging is commonly employed here with blade baits. A favourite technique is to drop the blade bait to the bottom, then slowly jerk and reel it back to the surface. A monster laker was caught through the ice on White Otter in January of 2013. The 46-inch beast was landed after a 45-minute battle and then released. It’s still down there.

Lake trout fishing on one of Ontario’s top five trout lakes.
Lake trout fishing on one of Ontario’s top five trout lakes. (Photo credit: Gord Ellis)

Manitou Lake

Manitou Lake is located north of Fort Frances and south of Wabigoon Lake. It’s a huge fishery, stretching 100-km north to south. Manitou is divided into an upper and lower sections and is connected by a pass that just allows a medium-sized boat through. This lake is awesome trout habitat, and the clear water is rimmed by pines that grip walls of granite. In spring, some trout are caught at ice-out by soaking dead herring or suckers. The technique, called “beer canning” is effective off beaches, points and narrows. Downrigging or wire lining with a Len Thompson spoon is the summertime technique, and very effective.

Arrow Lake

Arrow Lake, just 90-km southwest of Thunder Bay, is one of the province’s hidden lake trout gems. The lake is deep and clear and has a good population of native trout that can weigh up to 20-pounds. The fish roam shallow reefs and rock piles in the spring, but also frequent sand flats. Trolling a #7 perch shad rap can do a lot of damage. Later in the summer, wire lining with a silver Williams spoon accounts for most trout.


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