Brought to you by Go Fish Ontario
The province of Ontario has a multitude of lakes that are ideal for ice fishing. In no particular order, here is Fish’n Canada’s list of top destinations for hardwater angling in Ontario.
Located in northwestern Ontario on the shores of one of the most sought-after fisheries on the continent, Kenora truly is an ice anglers’ paradise. Surrounded by a spattering of small lakes and rivers to the north, the area’s vast stretches of wilderness offer outdoor opportunities year-round, including world-class ice fishing.
Kenora also sits on the shores of one of the top multi-species lakes in North America, Lake of the Woods. This incredible body of water is home to healthy populations of walleye, lake trout, crappie, northern pike, whitefish, and perch – and has even been known to offer the occasional muskie or bass through the ice.
The structure of the lake, with over 100,000 km of shoreline and 14,500 islands, makes it an ideal place to ice fish. It’s not unusual to see hundreds of ice shacks spread over the lake when the season is at its peak in January.
Part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario, Barrie, with its close proximity to Toronto, is a favoured destination for winter anglers.
Situated on Kempenfelt Bay, the western arm of Lake Simcoe, Barrie offers excellent access to the bay. Lake trout, whitefish, northern pike, and yellow perch are all plentiful and attract fishermen from all over southern and central Ontario as well as from neighbouring states such as New York and Michigan.
Lake Simcoe has been called the ice fishing capital of the world and the number of huts on the lake will tell you exactly why.
Belleville’s proximity to The Bay of Quinte makes it a top ice fishing destination. Known locally as The Bay, Quinte is without a doubt one of the top ice fishing destinations in the country with world-class walleye accessible right within city limits.
Belleville is the main population center on the Bay of Quinte. From here, anglers can access the entirety of the north end of the lake, fishing Big Bay right from Belleville, making a quick drive west to the Trent River, or driving east and fishing Deseronto and Napanee. These areas all hold the potential for massive Walleye, and also contain thriving populations of Perch and Pike.
Often referred to as “The Gateway of the North”, North Bay is located in northeastern Ontario in the Nipissing district.
North Bay is located right on the shores of the renowned Lake Nipissing, the third-largest lake in the province (excluding border lakes). Here, anglers can find a variety of fishing opportunities, whether it be jigging for Walleye, setting a tip-up for Northern Pike, or staying out late and dropping a line for Burbot. North Bay’s proximity to many northern lakes makes it an ideal ice-fishing destination.
Bewdley is a sleepy town located in Southern Ontario about an hour and a half from Toronto.
Coupled with the close proximity to Toronto and its location on the western end of Rice Lake, Bewdley is a very popular ice fishing town. Anglers can catch walleye, crappie, and yellow perch. Rice Lake is very popular with us here at The Fish’n Canada show as most of the team lives within an hour of the lake.
Also a very popular cottage country destination, Parry Sound and its location on the shores of Georgian Bay make it a favourite for hardwater anglers.
Georgian Bay has a variety of fish including catfish, pike, salmon, sturgeon and Tiger Muskie. What is most sought after, however, is the beautiful lake trout and walleye the bay is known for. Anglers travel from the bordering states of Michigan and New York to partake in some of Ontario’s best fishing (whether it is winter or summer).
Directly to the south of Orillia, anglers have access to one of the larger sections of Simcoe, last to freeze but certainly worth the wait. To the southwest (towards Barrie) Kempenfelt Bay is an excellent option for anglers seeking Lake Trout and Whitefish. And directly to the south, straight across the lake, lies the legendary Cooks Bay, home to some of the best Perch fishing in the province and one of the most popular spots for anglers travelling north from the GTA.
To the north, Orillia also lies on the shores of Lake Couchiching. This lake, though smaller than Simcoe, also holds plenty of Perch and Pike and tends to freeze up much quicker than the giant of a lake to the south. Similar to North Bay, Orillia is also just a short drive away from Muskoka and the hundreds of fish-filled lakes that call it home.
Part of Norfolk County, Long Point is a sand spit located at the northern end of Lake Erie. Known for its beach, it is also a popular destination for ice fishing.
Lake Erie’s fish population consists of Bass, Yellow Perch, Crappie, and Bluegill – but ice fishing on Lake Erie is primarily focused on Walleye. As walleye only eat enough to stay alive in the winter, it can often be challenging to get them to bite. For some tips on this, check out our podcast with Dr. Steven Cooke!
Home to one of the largest fishing derbies in North America, Wawa is a great place to ice fish. Located in northwestern Ontario on the shores of Wawa Lake, Wawa is known for its vast hunting and fishing opportunities.
The derby lakes include Wawa lake, Hawk Lake, and Manitowik Lake with the most popular species being Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Whitefish, and Lingcod.
Located in Prescott-Russell county, Rockland is located on the south shore of the Ottawa River. Only a 35 km drive from Ottawa makes it an ideal ice fishing location.
The Ottawa River is loaded with crappie, perch, pike, and walleye, making it very popular for ice fishing. Its close proximity to the Nation’s Capital sees winter fishing villages pop up all over the Ottawa River.
Now that you know where to fish, it’s time to address the how! Check out these great articles for detailed information to make your ice fishing season more successful!