If you’ve always wanted to land that monster pike or whopping walleye, Northeastern Ontario has the BIG fish for your BIG fishing dreams. Here’s what you need to know about the species most commonly found in the region:
Brook Trout, photo credit James Smedley
The brook trout, or speckled trout, is part of the salmon family. They are dark olive-green on the back, with lighter sides that feature pale spots and smaller red dots surrounded by blue halos, a white belly and reddish fins. Although it’s called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char. In small streams, it reaches an average length of 20-30 cm (roughly 8 to 12 in) and a weight of 1 to 3 lb in inland lakes.
Habitat: The brook trout inhabits large and small lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and spring ponds. They prefer cool, clear pure water with a narrow pH range.
Fishing: A popular catch-and-release game fish, brook trout are most active around shorelines in the spring and fall, so be sure to fish near overhanging trees, submerged wood, and rocky points and shoals. As the waters warm up, brook trout move into deeper waters and become harder to find, so it’s best to use a boat or canoe if you’re fly-fishing.
A hook, worm, and split-shot combination are a simple and effective way to catch brook trout, but minnows, leeches, and insects, as well as small to mid-sized spoons, worm-tipped spinners, minnow-imitating crankbaits, small jigs, jerk baits, and artificial flies are also good baits.
Lake trout caught in Nelson Lake, Hanmer, ON - Photo provided by Krista Dean
Lake trout is a freshwater char with an average size of 2-10 lbs. Its body is slate grey to greenish in colour, with a lighter underside. Cream- to yellow-coloured spots are generally seen on the head, body and dorsal and caudal fins. The lower fins tend to be orange-red with a narrow white edge.
Habitat: Lake trout inhabit cold, deep and oxygen-rich bodies of water.
Fishing: The lake trout is prized as a game fish and popular for its taste. Deep-water trolling is the best way to catch lake trout, but spin- or fly-fishing is also common. Lures to use include spinners, spoons, plugs, streamers and wet flies, and large minnows as live bait.