What a Catch! Amy Nesbitt’s Top Northeastern Ontario Fish Species
In Northeastern Ontario, we have thousands of lakes that provide anglers with opportunities for many different kinds of fishing, and many different species of fish. Five of the most sought-after fish in our region are, in no exact order, pike, walleye, small and largemouth bass, musky and trout. Being a tournament angler, the species I target the most are bass and pike. In Northeastern Ontario, two of my favourite lakes for bass and pike fishing are Lake Nipissing and Lake Huron.
Nipissing happens to be my home lake and is an incredible fishery for four out of five species mentioned – bass, pike, musky and walleye. The French River, which flows southwest from Lake Nipissing, is a top travel destination in the region related to fishing. It is home to monster musky, pike, walleye and bass. The sunsets over Lake Nipissing are also the best that I have seen anywhere in Ontario, although this could be a biased opinion!
Another incredible lake for fishing is Lake Huron. Lake Huron is home to all five of the most sought-after species in Ontario. I’ve caught my personal best for both pike and bass out of this lake, just off the shores of Manitoulin Island. But that’s enough of my favourite areas to fish.
It is important to remember that fishing happens during specific periods of the year. Certain species of fish can’t be targeted for the simple fact that we need to conserve our fish populations, allowing them to grow and multiply. Make sure to check season opening and closing dates in your area. Northeastern Ontario touches Fisheries Management Zones 8, 10 and 11.
Pike fishing in Northeastern Ontario is similar to a classic song that everyone likes – it can be enjoyed in both summer and winter! My personal favourite time to target pike is right when the season opens—there’s just something about the cool air and the spring smell that brings my soul to life and makes everything right in the world, if only for the time being. It’s also a great time on the water because anyone and everyone can enjoy reeling in a pike, no matter how big or how small it is.
In most areas, the walleye season opens at the same time as pike. Around Lake Nipissing, everyone looks forward to the big fishing kickoff to the summer months after a long winter. After almost a month of walleye and pike fishing, bass season begins.
Bass season may not be as popular in the northeast as in the southern regions of Ontario, but for those of us who do love to target bass, we have a BIG passion for it. Watching a bass jump out of the water with your lure in its mouth, hoping it doesn’t pop out, is a rush of adrenaline unlike any other. Bass are mainly a summer season fish due to them being out of season during the winter months in most areas.
Muskie season opens around the same time as bass. Fishing for muskie is amazing because the of the fight. Hooking one of these and reeling it in is like a mix between a bass and a pike. They will peel drag like a pike but they can also jump out of the water like a bass. In our regions, they can grow to reach lengths of 50+ inches.
The final species to mention is trout. A rainbow or lake trout can grow anywhere from 10 pounds or more! In most areas, rainbow trout is open year round. With both lake trout and brook trout, the seasons may vary depending on the region that you want to fish. These fish can be targeted in both the summer and fall.