From walleye and trout to salmon and lobster, Canada’s aquatic bounty lures anglers from around the world. It doesn’t hurt that the country is up to its hip waders in fish-rich waterways either. The Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans lap the outer shores, and more than two million lakes and rivers ripple and run inland.
But where exactly to drop a line in Canada? Whether you’re seeking a quiet DIY lakeside getaway or next-level guided Canadian fishing trip, the country is teeming with bucket-list-worthy angling adventures. So pack your lucky fishing cap (not that you’ll need it) and make tracks north for the following hot “rod” spots – listed from west to east, by province, then territory.
Bonus: Almost half the spots are designated Canadian Signature Experiences (CSE), meaning they qualify as offering once-in-a-lifetime authentic Canadian travel experiences.
Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park, British Columbia
Cosy log cabins, chef-prepared meals, and rainbow-trout-filled lakes and streams are all part of the package with Spatsizi Wilderness Vacations. A 322-kilometre floatplane flight north from the mountain town of Smithers, the company’s lodge skirts Laslui Lake at the Stikine River headwaters in Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park. Experience some of the best fly fishing in Canada on the CSE Fly-in Fishing and Wildlife Encounter, abundant with rainbows as well as Arctic grayling, Rocky Mountain whitefish, and bull trout. Come nightfall, swap tales of the day’s moose, caribou, and mountain goat sightings around a roaring campfire. Season runs June to August.
Bow River, Alberta
Stretching 587 kilometres from the Canadian Rockies to the prairies, Alberta's Bow River is world famous for its big brown and rainbow trout. Boasting catches up to 63 centimetres, the waterway conveniently winds through the lively city of Calgary – your ideal spring-to-fall fly fishing base with ample accommodations and places to eat. Go it alone or go with a guide, who can set you up with the right gear in the right spot. Dip into the river’s renowned Blue Ribbon stretch – think 2,000-2,500 fish per kilometre – on a full-day Lower Bow float trip. Or step it up on a two-day overnight adventure, camping equipment included.
Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan
Lake Diefenbaker might be man-made, but it’s still full of natural wonders – including trophy calibre catches. A 1.5-hour drive south of the culturally rich city of Saskatoon in southern Saskatchewan, the 225-kilometre-long lake is flush with walleye, goldeye, rainbow trout, yellow perch, and other game fish species. From spring to fall take advantage of the three full-service marinas or numerous boat launches along the 805 kilometres of shoreline, or sign up for a guided Canadian fishing charter to troll or cast in the best bays and coulees. Then see the lake from a different perspective on a hike along the nearby section of Canada’s Great Trail. Come back in winter to ice fish for pike.
Aikens Lake, Manitoba
Looking to land a 64-centimetre walleye on a near-91-metre-deep wilderness lake? Just a 1.5-hour drive and half-hour floatplane flight northeast of Winnipeg, Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge can help make that happen. Tucked in the south end of Manitoba’s Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park, Aikens Lake beckons with Precambrian rock formations, numerous islands, and boreal-forest-fringed shores. Snag that walleye, northern pike or lake trout for a shore lunch, then hike along a historic fur trade portage – both included in the CSE Pathways of the Voyageurs excursion. Back at the lodge, savor a gourmet dinner before catching the sunset from your deluxe log chalet with vaulted ceiling. Open late May to mid September.
Lake of the Woods, Ontario
Straddling the southwest corner of Ontario, Lake of the Woods is home to 14,500 islands and a wide variety of fish including bass, muskie, walleye, perch, and crappie. Drive two hours east of Winnipeg to reach this 4,400-square-kilometre body of water, whose shores are dotted with resort communities like Sioux Narrows and Kenora and numerous fishing accommodations. Wiley Point Wilderness Lodge promises to help you “reel in the big one” before you kick back in your cabin’s outdoor hot tub, while Ontario Wilderness Houseboat Rental provides you with guide, shorelunch and fishing equipment in its three-night angler package. Season runs spring to fall.
Come wintertime in Quebec, clusters of colorful fishing huts pop up on frozen waterways around the province. At the foot of rocky outcroppings along the stunning Sagueney Fjord, drop a line for redfish, cod, and black turbot from the comfort of a propane-heated cabin. A 209-kilometre drive north of Quebec City or nine-hour-plus train ride northeast of Montreal, Saguenay has everything you need for a day on the ice. Go for Contact Nature’s all-inclusive rental package or Venture Rose-de-Vents’ ice-and-snow cabin experience. Stay the night in a treehouse, cottage or condo, then dive into the area’s natural history at the Musée du Fjord the next day.
Gander River, Newfoundland and Labrador
Home to more than 60 per cent of North America’s top Atlantic salmon rivers, Newfoundland and Labrador serves up some of the best fly fishing in Canada. Among the province’s top rivers, the 60-kilometre-long Gander flows with some 25,000 returning salmon each spring. A half-hour drive from the Gander International Airport followed by a five-kilometre river boat ride will find you at Gander River Outfitters’ rustic riverside lodge. Pools swarming with salmon are just a short boat ride away, while up to 175 fish per hour have been counted during peak season right in front of the lodge. Choose from one-, three- and six-day packages. Season runs June to October.
Miramichi River, New Brunswick
More Atlantic salmon fly fishing awaits along New Brunswick's 217-kilometre-long Miramichi River. Check into Pond’s Resort on the Miramichi, less than an hour’s drive north of the compact but colourful capital of Fredericton, for the all-inclusive non-resident fishing package. Enjoy comfy riverfront cabins with wood stoves and private porches, gourmet fare in the Fiddleheads Dining Room, and guiding services. For a girls week away, sign up for Pond’s Women’s Fly Fishing School – complete with smoked salmon martinis. Some cabins open year-round.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Fishing in Canada comes in many forms. In the ocean waters off Prince Edward Island, bait-filled traps are lowered over the edge of boats to catch the province’s most prized crustacean in the depths below. Try your own hand at lobster fishing – a mainstay of the local fishery since the mid 1870s – on a CSE Top Notch Lobster Tour departing from the charming capital of Charlottetown. Help haul up the catch and even hold a live lobster aboard a 14-metre fibreglass boat, then sit down to a seafood spread on the topside deck – a one-pound lobster and sides for each guest. Sailings from July to mid September.
Tobeatic Wilderness Area, Nova Scotia
For fly fishing in the lap of eco luxury, look no further than Trout Point Lodge in southern Nova Scotia. An hour’s drive inland from the scallop town of Digby, this Small Luxury Hotels of the World property next door to the trout-rich Tobeatic Wilderness Area invites guests to forest bathe, hike, kayak, and practice yoga as part of its curated packages. The two-night guided fly fishing getaway also tempts with a gourmet packed lunch and four-course dinners, teatime cakes and pastries, and turndown service in a deluxe suite with handcrafted log and twig furniture. Be sure to sit a spell in the riverside wood-fired hot tub or outdoor barrel sauna.
Hop in a motorboat with Up North Adventures for a slice of some of the best freshwater fishing in the Yukon territory. Conveniently based in the capital of Whitehorse (known as the wilderness city for its proximity to rivers, lakes, and mountains), the touring company will whisk you away spring-thru-fall to proven fishing holes and secret hot spots. Expect to find northern pike, Arctic grayling, inconnu, rainbow trout, and other local species nibbling on your line in nearby Lake Laberge, Tagish Lake, Little Atlin Lake and more. The four-hour half-day trip includes hotel pickup/drop-off, guide and gear, as does the six-to-eight full-day trip with added shorelunch.
Kasba Lake, Northwest Territories
Splashing across the southeast corner of Canada’s remote Northwest Territories, Kasba Lake is a three-hour charter flight north of Winnipeg. Catch trophy northern pike, lake trout and Arctic grayling in Canada’s 28th largest lake, with Kasba Lake Lodge as your homey base. Respected for its strict catch-and-release policy, the lodge offers CSE-rated Canada fly fishing trips with expert guides, shorelunches, and plenty of wildlife spotting (think grizzlies, gulls, moose, and wolves). Wind down in the full-service lounge and dining room before returning to your private cabin to dream about tomorrow’s catch.
Creswell Bay, Nunavut
Go big and go 805 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in the vast territory that is Nunavut. A three-hour flight from Yellowknife will land you alongside the storied Northwest Passage and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge – the world’s most northerly fly-in lodge. Though the nine-day CSE Arctic Watch Discovery Experience will have you hiking by waterfalls, ATVing across tundra, and sea kayaking past belugas, your one-day add-on will also see you fishing for Arctic char in Creswell Bay – only a 40-minute flight from the lodge. Just another feather for that lucky fishing cap.
Fishing in Canada Tips
- Before your trip, familiarize yourself with Canada’s federal and provincial fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licence(s). You’ll also need to purchase a park pass if visiting a national park.
- To avoid any surprises, confirm up front with your Canadian host, guide or outfitter what is and isn’t included in your fishing excursion (transportation, equipment, licences, meals, etc.).
- Where, when and how you fish in Canada partly depends on species and season. Before booking your trip, read up on fish types, recommended fishing techniques and tourism experiences to match.
Canada’s ample waterways are ripe with fishing adventures – here’s a starting list to lure you in.