Best Fishing Destinations in Canada for 2020
Jan 22, 2020 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

It’s hard to believe that a single country can offer so much to an angler. With secluded mountain lakes, rolling streams and blue ocean expanses, fishing in Canada is an anglers’ real-life theme park. And as with any theme park, your biggest qualm is which ride to pick. To help you out, we put together a list of not-to-miss locations for the upcoming year. These are the best fishing destinations in Canada for 2020.

The Broken Islands of Barkley Sound in British Columbia, Canada

To make our list, we picked out destinations that offer incredible fishing, as well as a setting worthy of the Great White North. Deservedly, a few locales are making a repeat appearance this year. If you’re interested in checking out our picks for last year, here they are.

Ucluelet, British Columbia

Known for: Chinook Salmon and Pacific Halibut 

When to visit: May through September

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

Making our list for the second time, Ucluelet is the perfect example of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” British Columbia’s coastal gem is one of the premier fisheries in the North Pacific, and it’s easy to see why.

a Fishing Boat near Ucluelet, anglers setting up their gear

Perched on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Ucluelet couldn’t have asked for a better position for fishing. Arguably one of the premier Chinook Salmon fisheries out there, Ucluelet offers a range of productive fishing hotspots. 

From offshore fish magnets like the Big Bank to the sheltered waters of the Barkley Sound, the options are plenty. There’s Salmon on the bite pretty much year-round, but if you want the most bang for your buck, plan your outing between May and September. This is when you’ll have the chance to catch monster Chinook, as well as Coho and Pink Salmon.

Family fishing Ucluelet: a father angler with his two sons, holding a salmon on a fishing boat near Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada

Salmon might be the name of the game in Ucluelet, but there are plenty of other fish to catch. Whether it’s trolling for Halibut or bottom fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish, the options are endless.

Bras d’Or Lake, Nova Scotia

Known for: Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout

When to visit: June to September

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

If you’re trying to think of the perfect setting for a relaxing day of angling, picture this. An inland sea, located at the center of a beautiful island, abundant with all sorts of sea-run and freshwater fish. If that sounds too good to be true, we can’t blame you. In truth, however, this just means you haven’t yet discovered the jewel that is Bras d’Or Lake.

Bras d'Or Lake

Bras d’Or, or Hand of Gold, is a lake on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Despite its name, however, Bras d’Or is actually an inland sea. Featuring a number of inflowing rivers and very little tidal movement, Bras d’Or does seem an awful lot like a lake. However, in many parts, its waters are salty. 

That means that the lake can support an impressive 22 species of marine fish. And because the waters are a lot calmer than in the open sea, you’ll have a much more relaxing experience overall. Species like Cod, Herring, and Flounder are all here for the taking. In recent years, even Stripers have become regular guests.

For all the saltwater species that swim here, most anglers still prefer fishing for Trout and Salmon. And who can blame them? With Baddeck and Middle River flowing into the lake, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch Brooks, Browns, and Steelheads. There’s a good number of Atlantic Salmon here, too, making Bras d’Or Lake one of the most productive fisheries in the whole province.

North Lake, Prince Edward Island

Known for: Giant Bluefin Tuna 

When to visit: late July to mid-October 

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

Boats in the wharf in North Lake, PEI

Earning our nod for the second year in a row, North Lake still holds the title of Tuna Capital of the World. Located on the easternmost tip of Prince Edward Island, North Lake seems destined for unforgettable angling adventures. Here, the Gulf Stream readily serves the best of what the Atlantic can offer.

Roaming Bluefin Tuna make regular stops every year from late July to mid-October. These magnificent fish can get very big, often topping 1000 pounds! It makes sense, then, that one of the biggest Tuna fishing tournaments in the Atlantic takes place on the island.

Anglers holding a large Bluefin Tuna from a fishing boat on North Lake, PEI

If you’re looking for something a little less challenging, you’ll find a healthy dose of Atlantic Mackerel and Cod. Last but not least, Shark fishers will have their hands full with the likes of Blue and Porbeagle Sharks. 

The icing on the cake is that this charming island is still relatively unknown outside Canada. That means no tourist crowds, and unblemished seas wherever you look.

Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba

Known for: Walleye

When to visit: June to July

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

Shifting gears, we take our hats off to one of central Canada’s most pristine fisheries. Stretching a whopping 270 miles from north to south, Lake Winnipeg is the 11th largest lake on the planet. Largely undeveloped, the lake is perfect for nature enthusiasts or anglers looking to get away from the crowds.

a full moon on Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba

The capital city of Manitoba is just an hour away, mind you. That means that you can still reach this unblemished fishery with relative ease. The lake is surrounded by unspoiled boreal forests and humming rivers. In fact, the east side of Lake Winnipeg has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the summertime, fishing on Lake Winnipeg will greet you with one of the best Walleye bites you’ll ever experience. Summers also bring good numbers of Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and Carp. Last but not least, this time of year will also give you a chance to enjoy some of the lakes beautiful sandy beaches.

Fishing Lake Winnipeg: a boy angler holding a fish together with a fishing guide

In wintertime, the lake turns into one of the most productive ice fishing venues in the country. It can get really cold during this time, but as any ice fisher will tell you, few things can compare with pulling a Walleye out of a hole in the ice.

Mississauga, Ontario

Known for: Coho and Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Brown, and Lake Trout

When to visit: May to October

Depending on where you’re from, you’ll need a resident or non-resident Ontario fishing license.

For those of you who don’t want to sacrifice creature comforts for a good bite, few places can top what Mississauga has to offer. As Toronto’s next door neighbor, the town lies right on the shores of Lake Ontario. This means you’ll have access to pretty much every freshwater game fish you can think of. With all this in mind, Mississauga more then deserves a repeat nomination.

a smiling angler holding a fish on a boat near Mississauga, Lake Ontario

Chinook and Coho are regular catches during their spring and fall migrations. To mix things up, Largemouth Bass and Walleye flock the area between June and November. And to top things off, Browns, Lakes, and Steelheads combine for the ultimate Trout fishing trifecta. Look for these guys from May through October.

If you’re a Canadian resident, you should know that there are four days when you can fish for free in Ontario in 2020. These are Family Fishing Weekend (February 15–17, 2020), Mother’s Day Weekend (May 9–10, 2020), and Father’s Day Weekend (June 20–21, 2020).

Great Bear Lake, NT

Known for: Lake Trout

When to visit: June to July

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

Contrasting against the urban setting of Lake Ontario, Great Bear Lake is pretty much as remote as it gets. Located between the boreal forests of the Northwest Territories, Great Bear Lake lies right on the Arctic Circle. Seemingly a never-ending expanse, this is the single largest lake within Canadian borders. It might be a hard place to get to, but make no mistake, Great Bear Lake is an angler’s dream.

To call this place untouched is like calling Bill Gates “well off.” The entire lake has a little over 500 permanent inhabitants, most of which reside in the town of Deline. Nowhere does the old “Nature is king” ring truer than in these parts. Simply put, if you’re looking to get away from the daily bustle of urban life, this is the place to do it.

Plummer's Arctic Lodge, Great Bear Lake

The untouched beauty comes at a price, though. The lake isn’t exactly stacked with tourist resorts and shops like some of the fishing hotspots to the south. If you’re planning on wetting a line in these parts, make sure you’re well-stocked with gear and supplies.

Luckily, this is where fishing lodges come in. Great Bear Lake boasts several top-notch fishing lodge communities, specializing in making anglers’ dreams come true. Most fishing adventures start with a scenic plane ride from Yellowknife. Once you’re all settled, you’ll be presented with a wealth of fishing opportunities around you.

The species you can go for include Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Whitefish, and Lake Trout. Speaking of Lake Trout, Great Bear Lake is where these fish grow to 20, even 30 pounds!

an angler holding a giant Lake Trout on Great Bear Lake

What’s even better is that you can learn to wrestle these monsters with nothing more than a fly rod. Now that’s gonna make for a story for your angler buddies back home.

Miramichi River, NB

Known for: Atlantic Salmon

When to visit: mid-June to October

Click here to see the regulations and licensing information.

Arguably the finest Atlantic Salmon fishery in Canada, the Miramichi River is the locale of choice for fly fishing devotees. The 250-mile long river empties into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, running past several picturesque valley towns on its way.

The river is one of the rare places where Atlantic Salmon are able to survive completely naturally. Every summer and fall, over 100,000 of these magnificent fish make their way through the mighty Miramichi.

To protect their treasured species, the local authorities have maintained a strict catch and release policy. Anglers must be accompanied by a local fishing guide, and they can only catch Salmon using a fly rod. The river’s Salmon pools are mostly privately owned by lodge owners and outfitters.

Of course, if catch and release is not your thing, there are other fish to catch in these beautiful waters. The Miramichi and its nearby lakes, brooks, and streams are teeming Arctic Char, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout. You can expect to catch these from mid-May to mid-September.

When you’re not reeling, the river is perfect for activities like canoeing amidst the lush greenery around you. And if that leaves you tired, the riverbank cabins are perfect for cookouts and relaxing to the sounds of the flowing water. 

Many of the local guides offer three- or five-day excursions on the Miramichi. This way, you can wet a line in all the river’s hotspots, as well as stop and visit some of its charming towns on the way.

An Angler’s Paradise

Fishing in Canada is much like a never-ending tale. The country is so vast and rich in natural wonders, we’re pretty sure that a list like this doesn’t do it justice. What will do it justice is going out and exploring its picture-perfect waters, one magical fishery at a time. It might take you a lifetime to do it properly, but if you ask us, that’s a lifetime well spent. 

a view of Bras d'Or Lake through a couple of arching trees

So there you have it. Those are the best fishing destinations in Canada. Are there any fishing locales you think we missed? Which is your favorite place to wet a line in Canada? Let us know in the comments below.

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