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Giigoonh - Fish

• Credit: Alyssa Lloyd
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Giigoonh - Fish

Learn the Ojibwe name of your favourite species

Learn what the fish you commonly catch is called by the indigenous people of the region.

If there is one thing we can't get enough of, it's learning. New words, languages, practices, you name it. Here in Northwestern Ontario, we are truly gifted with so many opportunities to learn, whether it's from the landscape, the history, or our first peoples. 

The Ojibwe language, or Anishaabemowin, can take on many forms, variances, and dialects depending on the community, geography, and more. There's at least one different pronunciation or spelling for each word, but below are some of the most commonly used. 

If you see words with (g) or (ag) after them, they represent the plural spelling of the word. For instance, if you were speaking of more than one muskie, you'd refer to them as Maashkinoozheg.  

Muskie: Maashkinoozhe(g) or Maashkinoozag

Muskie is the apex predator in the lakes of Ontario's Sunset Country. Often called freshwater sharks or fish of 10,000 casts, this Esox species is a formidable opponent to anglers everywhere.

Northern Pike: Ginoozhe(g) or ki no je

Northern pike are an absolute riot to target and even though they are "easier" to catch than their larger cousins, the muskie, they are still an amazing game fish opportunity to pursue here in Sunset Country. 

Lake Trout: Nmego or na me goss

These gorgeous fish are actually in the char family. Lake trout are as aggressive as they come. They can grow very large in size and have been known to feed on 10" pike as if they were minnows. These fish don't have swim bladders, so when you pull them up from depths of 80 feet of water or more, you can send them right back down to continue growing. 

Perch: Asaawens(ag) or Saa we

These tyrannical little fish are aggressive feeders for a relatively small species. Considered a panfish, their lateral bars are unmistakable, and here in Sunset Country, jumbos are common! Sort of like the one below caught with Duck Bay Lodge. Perch make excellent table fare fish—some even claim they taste better than walleye! 

Walleye: Ooga or o gaas

Perhaps Sunset Country's favourite fish species, walleye need little to no introduction. These delectable table fare fish are sought after for their flaky goodness in the frying pan, but also the thrill of reeling them in. 

Whitefish: Adikmeg or a tik a meq

Whitefish is an underrated species and rarely targeted outside of hard water season; considering how hard these fish fight and how fun they are to catch, it's surprising more folks don't take the time to figure out their summer haunts. 

Lake Sturgeon: Nme or na me

Though sturgeon are not targeted by anglers in Ontario outside of the Rainy River, they are included here because they played an important role for First Nations. Their meat was eaten, but fascinatingly enough, sturgeon backbones were used as arrowheads. 

Smallmouth Bass: Shi gan

These hard-fighting fish are sought after all over the world, and we just happen to have an amazing fishery for smallmouth in large areas of Sunset Country! Open year-round in some regions of Sunset Country, these fish offer great year-round angling opportunities. 

Sucker  Mebene or na meh bin

An important fish in the lives of many other fish, whether as prey or a beneficiary of their filter-feeding habits. Suckers are common and abundant here in Sunset Country, and they offer some fun fishing in the spring! 

Ling – ma shii

These otherworldly fish draw the attention of anglers for obvious reasons. Typically caught while lake trout fishing in the winter, ling––also known as burbot, eelpout, or poor man's lobster––can also be targeted directly. Get ready to feel some weight on the end of the line, and try not to overreact when you see their amphibious-looking head come through the hole! 

Do you use other words or spelling? 

If you use different words than the ones gathered above, we'd love to hear from you. We can add them to the list and place the origin with them. 

––Translations written with the help of Jeremy Capay from Lac Seul Events Centre 

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