July 20, 2024

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St. Catharines Fishery: The Complete Guide

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Just a stone’s throw from where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, it’s no surprise that fishing in St. Catharines is so popular. This vibrant Ontario city is located in the heart of the Niagara Region, serving as a popular destination for outdoor lovers – including anglers. It’s surrounded by gorgeous countryside, picturesque vineyards, and rolling hills. Plus, the Niagara Falls are just a short drive away.

As a perfect getaway destination, St. Catharines attracts anglers from all over the country and beyond. The list of potential targets here is pretty extensive, with year-round opportunities for fishermen of all skill levels.

In this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about the local fishing scene. We’ll talk about what you can catch, how to do it, and when. As well as that, we’ll cover the most popular St. Catharines fishing methods and techniques. Let’s go!

What can I catch while fishing in St. Catharines?

Lake Ontario and the Niagara River offer anglers an impressive cast when it comes to the list of potential catches. Of course, the fishing here might be seasonal but, when the time comes, there’s plenty for visiting anglers and locals alike to go after. Let’s talk about our favorite picks on the St. Catharines fishing menu – in no particular order.

Salmon

A group of four male anglers of different ages hold up a Salmon each, caught while fishing in St.Catherines, Ontario during summer
Photo courtesy of Fish NV

Salmon fishing in St. Catharines can hardly disappoint. Firstly, there’s the most coveted, Chinook (King) Salmon, known for their size and power. Then, Coho (Silver) Salmon are another common Lake Ontario resident, with Atlantic and Pink Salmon making up the list of superstars.

Chinook and Coho steal the spotlight, while the other two species make more of a guest appearance. However, that also meanest that the Salmon season begins in mid-May and extends all the way through September. The waters usually teem with Salmon between July and August.

Look for your targets near the mouths of the rivers and streams that flow into the mighty Lake Ontario. Or you can explore the Great Lake itself. The Niagara River, 12 Mile Creek, and Four Mile Creek are among the most popular spots. As for your chosen technique, locals usually arm themselves with downriggers, planer boards, or dipsy divers to delve deep into the water as they troll the lake.

Trout

Two anglers proudly present their Trout catches on a fishing charter near St. Catharines, Ontario, with the water and some land visible in the distance behind them on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Niagara Fishing Adventures – River

Trout in St. Catharines also offer a dazzling cast. We’re talking Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout. While the first two dominate the scene, Lakers are rarer but, nonetheless, impressive. Trout fishing is a year-round pleasure, peaking especially between April and June, and September to November.

The mighty Niagara and its currents offer the best playground for Trout anglers. In addition to that, you can hunt for these fish in the tributaries and streams that feed into Lake Ontario. Again, 12 Mile and Four Mile Creek stand out.

As you might have guessed, fly fishing takes center stage when it comes to Trout fishing techniques. There are various streamers, dry flies, and nymphs that local anglers use, although you may definitely tailor your approach to the time of the year and the fishing conditions. Don’t feel like you should limit yourself to fly fishing, though. Spinning with lures or bait works well, too.

Bass

An angler leans back while holding a Smallmouth Bass, caught while fishing near St. Catharines in Ontario on a cloudy day, with the water behind him
Photo courtesy of South Shore Smallmouth Charters

It’s a tale of two Bass when it comes to fishing in St. Catharines. Smallmouth Bass are the stars of the show as they’re more prevalent in the area, with Largemouth Bass being somewhat less frequent. The best Bass fishing grounds include Port Dalhousie right by Lakeside Park Beach, along with Four Mile Creek and 12 Mile Creek.

If you’re after the ultimate Bass experience, consider heading out anytime from late spring to early fall, especially between June and August. Cast for Bass with artificial lures, such as crankbaits, topwaters, and soft plastics. For a slightly different approach, try live bait, including minnows or worms. You won’t be disappointed!

Walleye

A blonde, female angler in a woolly hat and hood, holding a Walleye, while looking down at it, standing on a fishing charter in the Great Lakes region in Ontario on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Hot Take Angling

St. Catharines might not be the ultimate Walleye wonderland, but these elusive fish are present in the local waters for those who know where to look. Walleye bite during spring and fall, from April to May, and then between September and November.

The map of top Walleye spots consists of the Niagara River, Port Dalhousie, and St. Catharines Marina. Of course, there are other spots that you can explore. We suggest teaming up with a local guide who can show you some of the Walleye honey holes.

Trolling with crankbaits, worm harnesses, and spinnerbaits is the name of the game in St. Catharines. Alternatively, you can try jigging or drifting with live bait, such as minnows and worms.

Pike

An ice angler in red overalls holding up a Pike, caught while ice fishing in Ontario on a sunny day, with his ice hut behind him
Photo courtesy of Blue Rock Charters – Ice Fishing

Pike fishing in St. Catharines is another seasonal sensation. The thrill of chasing these predators begins in spring, especially in the months of April and May. The second wave happens in the period from September until November.

There’s a list of Pike spots that local guides share with their anglers. Some of the best locations include the Niagara River and its creeks. However, these fish can also be found throughout the area. Similar to other species, you just need to know where to look.

To master the art of Pike fishing, you should begin by casting artificial lures. Spinnerbaits, spoons, and jerkbaits work well, although you can definitely experiment with large minnows or succulent suckers.

Where can I go fishing in St. Catharines?

In general, you have the mighty Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and various tributaries and creeks. If Lake Ontario’s your main priority, head to Port Dalhousie or Port Weller. For a Niagara River excursion, launch out of nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake.

While we’ve mentioned some top of the best fishing spots in St. Catharines above, it’s time to look into them in more depth:

  • Port Dalhousie: As we already mentioned, this spot allows you to fish Lake Ontario. You can fish off the pier, in the marina, by boat, or even by kayak. Similar to Port Weller, this location offers the best access to the lake in the area.
  • St. Catharines Marina: This marina is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. There’s a boat launch, along with a bait and tackle shop and fish cleaning station for the catch you want to take home with you.
  • 12 Mile Creek: A Lake Ontario tributary that offers great Trout fishing. This creek is stocked with Brown and Rainbow Trout, along with Steelhead in the fall. Note that some parts of the creek are closed during spawning season.
  • Four Mile Creek: This is another Lake Ontario tributary that runs through St. Catharines. It’s also stocked with Trout and, here, you can also target Brown Trout. Similar to 12 Mile Creek, some parts of the Four Mile are closed for fishing during the spawning season.
  • Niagara River: This impressive runs between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It, therefore, offers access to some of the finest freshwater fishing in the area. Note that there might be strong currents, so follow local regulations and head out with a guide who knows the area well.

How to Go Fishing in St. Catharines

You should have realized by now that there are many angling options available in St. Catharines, depending on when you’re fishing and what species you hope to catch. It’s never a bad idea to experiment with different techniques and methods to find what works best. As well as that, booking a trip with a St. Catharines guide will help you learn new, locally tried-and-tested techniques. But here’s a look at some of the more popular methods…

Trolling

A view across the water towards a fishing charter, fully set up with a number of downriggers for trolling the waters of Lake Ontario near St. Catherines, at sunset on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Myles Ahead Sportfishing

Trolling is arguably the area’s most popular angling approach. This is a rewarding technique that’s used for a plethora of fish species both in Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. You can increase your chances at a successful catch by using the power of downriggers, planer boards, and dipsy divers. Flashers and dodgers can also help.

As your boat glides through the water, it will tow the bait or lures behind it, waiting for the fish to bite. Captains usually tailor the trolling speed to the fishing conditions and the targeted species. This goes for Salmon, Trout, Walleye, and Pike.

Jigging

As one of the area’s finest fishing techniques, jigging works well for Walleye, Bass, and Pike. Oh, and you can also add Salmon and Trout to the list.

Jigging in Lake Ontario or the Niagara River is a simple yet effective technique. Ask any local how to do it, and chances are, they’ll tell you to simply “Drop it, jerk it, and hook it.” You’ll drop your jig or lure to the desired depth, jerk it up and down, and wait for the fish to bite. Simple, right? We’ll let you try it out first!

Drift Fishing

Drifting is a technique that allows you to ride the currents with your bait or lure, going with the flow. If done right, this method can help you hook into species like Walleye and Pike.

Before you sway with the current with live bait and lures, you need to pick the right ones. Worms and minnows are among the most popular live bait choices, while jigs and spinnerbaits are the go-to artificial lures. For the most productive drifting spot, consider the 12 Mile Creek and Niagara River.

Fly Fishing

A closeup image of a trout next to a fly fishing reel in the water on a rocky, shallow river in the Great Lakes area
Photo courtesy of Solitude Steelhead Guide Service

Some say nothing beats fly fishing in St. Catharines, especially if you’re a skilled fly angler. Trout enthusiasts spend hours chasing their targets when the season allows, selecting from their arsenal of nymphs, dry flies, and streamers.

One of the key factors of fly fishing in the area is picking the right gear. Plus, you’ll need to adapt to the seasonal shifts and water conditions, especially when working the Niagara River. If fly fishing is your main priority, it’s always recommended to head out with a knowledgeable guide.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing allows you to lure whatever’s hanging out on the seafloor, it’s as simple as that. You can catch anything from Bass and Walleye to Catfish, if you know where to look. Arm yourself with live bait or lures and venture to the bottom of the water column.

Bottom fishing is usually done from a boat, so consider trying this technique with a charter captain that has all the right setup. You can drag your bait along the bottom or simply wait for the bite – it all depends on the species you’re targeting.

St. Catharines Fishing Seasons

A view across the water at sunset from a rocky shoreline towards Port Dalhousie lighthouse in St.Catharines, with clouds visible overhead

Before we let you go, we’ll just break down the fishing seasons in more detail. As the waters warm up in spring, a lot of fish species start actively feeding. This is a great time to target Walleye and Pike in the Niagara River, as they move up from Lake Ontario into the tributaries for their spawning seasons. Spring is also good for Steelhead and Brown Trout fishing.

Summer is usually the peak season for fishing in St. Catharines, with warm water and pleasant temperatures. Plus, a lot of fish are biting, including Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass that move to the shallows to feed, along with Walleye in deeper areas.

In the fall, you can take advantage of Salmon and Walleye that move back into the tributaries to spawn. Trout fishing is also good during this time, with Brown Trout and Steelhead among the most popular catches.

Finally, the winter season in St. Catharines is reserved for ice fishing for Perch, Crappie, and Panfish in the tributaries and marinas. So there you have it, the season never stops! Just beware that some areas may be closed for fishing at different times. This is especially true during spawning season, so check out the regulations for your desired fishery online.

Fishing in St. Catharines: The Niagara, a Great Lake, and More

An aerial view of Port Dalhousie lighthouse in St. Catharines, Ontario, with a channel visible to the left of the image and land visible on the right

Fishing in St. Catharines is all about reeling in memories. From the art of fly fishing to good old trolling, each technique you try adds that little bit of excitement to your angling journey. Of course, not every angler’s experience in the area is the same. Some come to fish Lake Ontario exclusively, while others prefer to explore the area’s creeks and tributaries. What we know for sure is that, year after year, anglers keep coming back for more. Join them!

Have you ever been fishing in St. Catharines? What’s your favorite catch? Let us know in the comments below!

The post St. Catharines Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: St. Catharines Fishing: The Complete Guide 
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/st-catharines-fishing/
Published Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2023 12:09:40 +0000

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