April 13, 2024

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Canada Fishing Guide: The Ultimate Guide

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It should come as no surprise to you that fishing in Canada is off the charts. The second-largest country in the world boasts over 150,000 miles of coastline – the longest in the world – and countless streams and lakes full of fish just waiting to catch your attention.

You could spend a lifetime fishing here without touching the sides of what’s on offer. From mountain streams to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, via rural and urban lakes, there’s so much to explore. And that’s why we’re here.

We’ve compiled everything you need to know about fishing in Canada in one place. Find out all about the most sought-after species, the best times to visit, places to go, and much more. This is the ultimate guide to fishing in Canada. Let’s get going!

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Top Catches in Canada

With such diverse waters to explore, you can bet that there’s also an almost endless list of fish you can catch. From freshwater favorites to big, saltwater giants, there’s something for everyone. Here’s our pick of the best…

Freshwater Targets in Canada

Photo courtesy of Laliberte Guide Service

We’ll start our tour of targets in Canada in the freshwater realm. You’re never far from a productive stream or lake in the Great White North, with fishing possible even in the depths of winter. We’ll talk more about ice fishing in Canada later on, but now let’s meet the stars of the show:

  • Trout. Canada boasts a variety of Trout. In British Columbia, Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Steelhead Trout are synonymous with fly fishing. On the opposite coast, anglers catch large Brook Trout in Labrador and the northern waters of Quebec. Meanwhile, oversized Lake Trout are possible in the Great Lakes and Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
  • Bass. Where there are Bass, there are great fishing opportunities, and Canada is no different. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are available in many waters throughout the country, with the latter popular in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Ontario, in particular.
  • Walleye. These creatures steal the show wherever they are. And you can find them in abundance all across Canada. Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Detroit River, Lake Erie, St. Lawrence River, and the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario are the best spots for larger Walleye. Try anything from ice fishing in winter to trolling in summer, and you could come out successful.
  • Muskellunge (Musky). If you’re looking for a battle for the ages, consider going Musky fishing. These strong creatures grow to impressive sizes and promise plenty of intense runs to try and get off your line. Southern Ontario and Quebec are your go-to Musky provinces, with Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Ottawa River, and the St. Lawrence River holding good numbers.

But that’s not all. There are plenty of other tough-fighting – and some delicious – freshwater creatures across Canada. Ice fishing for Pike and Perch, for example, is a popular pastime in winter. And they bite all year round, if you know where to go. Meanwhile, Dolly Varden and Char are popular in British Columbia, along with one of the biggest creatures of them all – Sturgeon.

Salmon Targets in Canada

A group of male anglers on a fishing charter in Canada, the majority of which are holding a Salmon, while one man in a red shirt crouches in front of them with his thumbs up
Photo courtesy of Roy’s Fishing Charters

Salmon fishing in Canada is so good that we decided it deserved a section all of its own. There are as many as six different Salmon species across the country, so let’s see what makes each one unique:

  • Chinook Salmon. We’ll start with the best of the best. Chinook – a.k.a. “King” – Salmon truly reign supreme wherever they are. 100-pounders are not uncommon, while landing anything over 30 pounds will see you head home with some bragging rights. These “Tyee” Salmon are the pinnacle of freshwater fishing.
  • Coho Salmon. Smaller, but by no means less feisty is the “Silver” Salmon. Known for their acrobatic leaps, these fish promise an intense battle, too. You can find them in similar waters to Chinook, meaning British Columbia and the Great Lakes, such as Lake Ontario, are good places to start.
  • Sockeye Salmon. After Chinook and Coho Salmon enter BC’s waters, Sockeye are the next ones in at the end of spring. And they stay through summer. These dazzling Salmon turn red, making for a picture-perfect catch. But that’s not all. It’s often claimed that these are the tastiest of all six species. We’ll let you confirm that theory!
  • Pink Salmon. Next to arrive in the westernmost waters of the Great White North are Pink Salmon. Averaging around 3–5 pounds, they’re nowhere near as big as their aforementioned cousins. But that just means you’ll need some lighter tackle! They’re true to their species as tough fighters, so don’t expect an easy battle.
  • Chum Salmon. When Chum Salmon show up, it’s the best time of the year to go Salmon fishing in Canada. As summer hits, there are five different species in the same waters! Averaging around 10 pounds, they’re a challenge for lighter tackle, while fly fishing is also a popular method on Vancouver Island.
  • Atlantic Salmon. And finally, the only species native to the east coast of Canada, the Atlantic Salmon, deserves its 5 minutes of fame. Similar in size to Chum Salmon, it’s also a favorite of fly anglers from the top of Newfoundland down to the south of Quebec – and even in the Great Lakes. Summer is peak season, but fishing in fall means you’ll get to enjoy some incredible scenery.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of Salmon when it comes to casting a line in Canada. While fly fishing for smaller species is popular, trolling in the Great Lakes and offshore is another effective method you can try out. Check out Lake Ontario, in particular!

Mooching is also a traditional form of drift fishing in BC, where anglers imitate wounded fish by presenting their bait floating along the water column to entice the Salmon. Meanwhile, more experienced fly anglers can also try bucktailing. This is fishing with a lure made from the hair of a deer’s tail, and you can troll, jig, or cast to get the desired result! We suggest you experiment until you find what works for you.

Saltwater Targets in Canada

A man and a woman crouch behind two large Halibuts on a boat, caught while fishing in Ucluelet on a sunny day with the water behind them
Photo courtesy of Oceans West Sportfishing

With the over 150,000 miles of coastline we mentioned, it’s all been building up to this. The saltwater fish on offer in Canada is enviable, to say the least. From tough-fighting, goliath species to delicious table fare – and a lot of the time, fish that combine both – here’s what we think you should target:

  • Rockfish. 36 species of Rockfish swim in Canada’s Pacific waters, and most are dazzling and delicious. You’ll need to work hard to lift them off the rocky bottoms (where they get their name from), but the reward will be well worth it.
  • Lingcod. Effectively another Rockfish, Lingcod are another prized catch in the Pacific. Growing to 130 pounds, you’ll need your full strength to have any chance of reeling one aboard. They’re available year-round but peak in summer, when you’ll want to time your visit to make the most of the weather, anyway.
  • Halibut. If you thought Lincod were big, wait until you see some of the Halibut on offer in Canada. The largest on record in BC was a whopping 459 pounds, with 150-pounders being common catches. These “barn doors” are a joy to behold for every angler and make for a well-earned tasty treat at the end of your workout.
  • Tuna. One fish that can never be left off the menu is Tuna. Oversized Bluefins show up on the East Coast come the beginning of fall, with Prince Edward Island’s famous tournament offering you the chance at landing one. At the same time, Albacore Tuna make their way to the Pacific, so there’s something available on both coasts!

And there’s more where that came from. Cod is another delicious species found on the Atlantic coast, while Flounder (another member of the Flatfish family) is available in both the east and the west. With Seabass, Crab, Shrimp, and much more to target, you’re in for a veritable feast whenever you visit.

Canada Fishing Seasons

So you know that fishing is possible year-round in Canada, but not every species is available all the time. Spring and summer are the most popular times to get your fish on, as the warm weather makes casting a line more pleasant. And it’s also the time of year when most of the fish come out to play.

That being said, certain freshwater creatures, in particular, peak in fall, while winter fishing on the ice is also possible. If you’re not fussy, come whenever you can and cast a line. But to make sure you align your trip with a particular species, check out the calendar below.

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Bass Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Fair Fair Good Great Good Weak
Halibut Fair Fair Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Fair Fair
Lingcod Fair Fair Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Fair Fair
Musky Weak Weak Fair Fair Good Great Good Good Great Great Good Fair
Rockfish Weak Weak Fair Fair Good Great Great Great Great Good Fair Fair
Trout Fair Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Fair
Tuna Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Fair Great Great Great Fair Weak
Walleye Fair Fair Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Fair

Salmon Fishing Seasons in Canada

As for Salmon, we already mentioned that there’s a sequence to their arrival in the waters of British Columbia. But here’s the full guide to Salmon fishing seasons in Canada.

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Atlantic Salmon Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Great Great Good Weak Weak
Chinook Salmon Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good
Chum Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Fair Good Great Great Weak Weak
Coho Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Good Weak Weak
Pink Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Fair Great Great Good Weak Weak
Sockeye Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Fair Great Great Good Weak Weak

Best Fishing Spots in Canada

With land so vast, it’s difficult to know where to start when planning a fishing trip in Canada. There’s an endless number of spots to explore, no matter your preference. We’ll do our best to narrow it down for you.

For some quick inspiration, check out our pick of the top fishing destinations this year. Looking for somewhere to go in winter? We’ve also drawn up a list of the best spots for that. And we’ve also got a guide to the best family-friendly spots. But read on for a more detailed breakdown of the best fishing spots in Canada:

Fishing in Canada’s Provinces and Territories

Canada Fishing Destinations

We know, that didn’t really help you out much. But, as we’ve said a million times, the fishing is great wherever you go. Don’t worry, though, we have plenty more suggestions for you. Here’s our pick of the best fishing spots in Canada – from coast to coast.

But we can’t talk about fishing in Canada without mentioning the Great Lakes. While they’re not entirely in Canada, they’re a huge part of the freshwater fishing scene. Indeed, all but one Great Lake straddle the border between Canada and the US. Check out our guides to Lakes Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Superior, and decide which famous body of water you’d like to experience first.

Fishing Techniques in Canada

It’s now time to talk about how to approach the abovementioned waters. With so many fish on offer in such diverse spots, it makes sense that you can also employ a range of fishing techniques in Canada. From rivers and lakes to inshore waters, and all the way out to the deep sea, here are some of the most popular ways to go fishing here.

  • Fly fishing. Whether in the Great Lakes, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, or anywhere in between, fly fishing in Canada is a must for any freshwater angling aficionado. Trout and Salmon are particular favorites, but you’ll need different set-ups for both. A lighter 6 wt rod should do the trick for Trout and Steelhead, while you’ll want at least an 8-weight for Salmon. Get ready for action that’s off the scales in some of the most stunning scenery imaginable.
  • Ice fishing. From December through March on almost every lake in the country, ice fishing becomes a favorite pastime of passionate fishers. Walleye, Lake and Brown Trout, along with Perch, Pike, Whitefish, and Burbot are all possible, depending on where you are. Just make sure to head out with an experienced guide who’ll make sure you’re fishing on ice that’s thick enough.
  • Deep sea fishing. Other than the obvious (the fish), the good thing about deep sea fishing in Canada is that it won’t take you long to get to the drop-offs. Especially in British Columbia, you’ll reach productive fishing grounds less than 30 minutes after departing shore, where monster Halibut and Lingcod await. In the east, you might want to go further offshore, though. This is where overnight and multiday trips take place, and you could land Bluefin Tuna weighing up to 1,000 pounds.
  • Fly-in fishing. If you’re looking for the fishing experience of a lifetime, what could beat the feeling of casting your line in unchartered territory in complete solitude? Fly-in fishing offers you the chance to experience the most remote corners of the country, where the fish get really big. You’ll often be welcomed by a traditional fishing lodge, where accommodation and hearty meals are included, too.

Canada Fishing Trips

Your best bet for getting the most out of your Canada fishing experience is to head out with a professional guide. They’ll know exactly where the fish are and can assist you with the best techniques to use. Fortunately, there are fishing charters and guided trips along almost every body of water. And FishingBooker has you covered:

You’ll have the choice between saltwater and freshwater trips, with further options depending on where you head and what you want to target. Freshwater trips can take the form of river or lake fishing adventures, with the former offering up the best fly fishing action. Trolling is usually reserved for larger lakes, but you can do it on rivers too. As for jigging, it’s possible in both rivers and lakes.

When it comes to saltwater fishing, the good news is you don’t have to go far to find some big fish. That being said, you can choose between inshore and offshore trips, with the length of your trip usually lasting anywhere from 4 hours to multiple days on the water.

Shorter trips are best for trying out some bottom fishing closer to shore, and we’d recommend those for families and beginners. Meanwhile, you’ll want a full day on the water to maximize your chances at larger Halibut, which require plenty of strength to land. Overnight and multiday trips are reserved for experienced anglers, who want to go after record-breaking Tuna – especially on the East Coast.

Other than that, there’s also the option of specialized trips and fly-in fishing getaways. Specialized trips can take the form of going after a particular species or focusing on a particular fish, and you can always ask your captain to tailor your trip to whatever you want to do. Fly-in adventures take you to remote streams or lakes and often come with lodging involved. These are what dreams are made of for any pro angler.

Canada Fishing Regulations

Before you cast a line anywhere in Canada, you’ll want to get familiarized with the local rules and regulations. Responsibility for managing the country’s fisheries is shared between the federal, provincial, and territorial levels. That means a lot of different information to process, so we’ll try our best to condense it here.

An infographic including a vector of a boat, the FishingBooker logo, the Canadian flag, and text stating "Canada Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background

First of all, you’ll need a license to fish wherever you are. Yep, that goes for freshwater and saltwater fishing and whether you’re fishing with or without a guide. However, there is no one unified national license. You’ll need to get a different license for each territory or province you plan on fishing in.

Then come fish-specific regulations. These include open seasons, bag and size limits, and the need for special permits. Again, these rules vary depending on the province you’re fishing in – and they can even differ within certain regions. For example, British Columbia has a whole booklet dedicated to fishing rules for Vancouver Island, which you can find online.

If you’re heading out on your own, consult with your chosen province’s guidelines on what you can and can’t catch, and if you’ll need any additional permits. But we suggest heading out with a fishing charter whenever you’re fishing in Canada. Your captain will be up to date with all the necessary information to make sure you’re fishing within the law.

Canada Fishing FAQs

The post Canada Fishing: The Ultimate Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Rhys
Title: Canada Fishing: The Ultimate Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/canada-fishing/
Published Date: Wed, 31 May 2023 16:31:54 +0000

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