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Spring Smelt Fishing in Ontario 2022

story and photos by Carter Dorscht
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Spring Smelt Fishing in Ontario 2022

Algoma Country is a smelt fisher's paradise

I’m sure everyone’s anxious to get out onto the water, once the ice completely melts, and start catching some fish from the boat. Luckily, Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma Country in Ontario have some of the best smelt fishing in the province.

As I drove over the St. Joseph Island Bridge each day over the past few weeks, more and more open water was emerging, which was exciting. Heavy rainfall has made most of the ice disappear, and everywhere I can see is open water for the most part. Even though ice fishing was a ton of fun this year, it’s time to get back onto the open water and do some smelt fishing in Ontario!      

Carter Dorscht4

SMelting season

Smelting season is upon us and I got out for the first time April 27th in Gawas Bay on St. Joseph Island. I would say there were about twenty other people there that night. While the smelts weren’t running full force yet, we netted enough over the course of about an hour and a half, for a decent-sized snack. They were delicious! I went back again the next night and had a lot more success. Between the four of us, we managed to get a decent haul. We also tried out some of our secret spots, but there were only a few smelts to be found.  They should be running at peak in the next night or so. However, the recent rain has increased the water levels and they may be more difficult to find.


Lake trout and whitefish

Spring also marks the opening of many fishing seasons in the area. April 26th fishing season opened up on Big Basswood Lake back behind Thessalon, which becomes a fish sanctuary from October 1st to the 4th Saturday in April. There was still enough ice left on the lake to safely fish and I saw many pictures of some nice lake trout and whitefish pulled out through the holes.

Smallmouth bass

Since 2014, smallmouth bass is open year-round in most parts of Ontario Fisheries Management Zone 10. Zone 10 covers all inland lakes in our area. This is exciting news for many local bass anglers, who’ve usually had to wait until late June to catch smallmouth.  

Northern pike

May 1st marks the opening of northern pike in Zone 14.  Zone 14 covers the St. Mary’s River and out into Lake Huron.  Walleye also opens up on this day for Zone 14, but there is a major exception for our area.  From the locks in the Sault east down the St. Mary’s River to Eagle Point, walleye does not open until the 15th of May.  Walleye opens back up again in Zone 10 on the 3rd Saturday in May, which is the 17th this year.  As I mentioned above, Zone 10 covers all the inland lakes in the area.  Make sure that you refer to the Ontario Fishing Regulations for more information on what I mentioned above.


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button fishing

I’ll be out fishing as much as I can over the next few weeks, before heading to Lake of the Woods for the summer.  

Good luck to everyone as they begin their spring fishing!

button hotels

Algoma Country is home to some of the very best fishing in the world. There are many resources available to help anglers discover everything this region has to offer, and the best place to start—for tips, tricks, outfitter information, vacation packages, and more—is the official Algoma Country Tourism website:


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