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Discover the Lure of Catching Trophy Brook Trout

A Gorgeous Nipigon River Brook Trout • Credit: Gord Ellis Photo
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Discover the Lure of Catching Trophy Brook Trout

The famous Nipigon River will not disappoint

Nipigon, Ontario has a reputation and history as a fishing hot spot for brook trout. Discover why people from around the world travel to the northern shore of Lake Superior to angle and fly-fish the Nipigon River for this prize fish.

Nipigon River Brook Trout Fishing

The Nipigon River that flows into Lake Superior at Nipigon, an hour east of Thunder Bay on Hwy 11/17, is uniquely suited to growing big brook trout. The river is Lake Superior’s largest tributary and drains Lake Nipigon. This enormous lake is cold and nearly untouched by the pollution and development that’s driven brook trout from so many other places. It too is a haven for wild trout.

World Record Brook Trout

The world record brook trout was caught on the Nipigon River in July of 1915. That enormous fish weighed 14 pounds 8 ounces. It is one of the longest standing  world record fish on the books. Perhaps the most important factor in the growth and size of the Nipigon brookies is the food available. The trout gorge year round on baitfish such as sculpin, stickleback and smelt. In June, the first hatches of aquatic insects start to show, beginning with stoneflies, then moving through mayfly and caddis. At times the river seems alive with insects, and the boils of football shaped trout taking them off the surface. These are the things a fly anglers dreams are made of.

Gord Ellis Sr monster Nipigon River brook trout G EllisGord Ellis Senior pictured holding a monster Nipigon brook trout  - Photo - Gord Ellis

A Challenging River to Fish

The Nipigon River is challenging for anglers, due to its size and depth. However, with a few adjustments, just about any angler can potentially connect with the trout of a life time. The river is large enough for a boat, and  many anglers prefer to  fish from one. Usually the boat driver holds the craft in the current while the angler at the bow casts.  In some parts of the river, you can drop anchor and work flies, or bucktail jigs,  along the edges of the river and behind rocks where trout will hold in the current.
The Nipigon is not the friendliest river to wade, due to its depth and speed, but in certain sections, it can be done.  The lower portion of the Nipigon, below Alexander’s dam, has several areas  perfect for angler who prefers to wade and fly-fish. Some of the very largest trout are caught by anglers who present dry flies from shore. Brook trout can hold in remarkably shallow water, especially when they are feeding on terrestrial insects. There are number of outfitters in the Nipigon area who provide guide services on the Nipigon River. 

Angling Gear Required

The gear needed for the Nipigon is heavy compared to what you’d normally use for small stream brook trout. Many trout anglers who travel from others parts of Canada to fish the Nipigon brook trout  are under gunned. The water is deep and swift, and the fish can grow to impressive size. A 10 foot long, 7 or 8 weight fly rod will usually do the job on this big water. If you are spin fishing, use a long rod of 7 or 8 feet, and a line that is at least 8 pound breaking strength. 

Gord Ellis and Nipigon brookie GEllisGord Ellis holds a brook trout for release

Size and Bag Regulations

One last thing. The size and bag regulations on the Nipigon River, as well as Lake Nipigon and Lake Superior, are strict and conservative. No angler may kill a Nipigon brookie under 22 inches in length. The bag limit on the brook trout here is just one fish. This regulation protects the majority of the spawning aged brook trout. This regulation has helped the Nipigon brook trout rebound after being nearly wiped out by over fishing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These days, most trout anglers carefully  release all their fish back to the river.

The fact is, a trophy Nipigon River brook trout is one of  Ontario’s most precious natural resources. They really are a fish too beautiful to catch just once.

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