Ice Fishing Destinations in Canada: Our Top Picks
Apr 28, 2021 | 7 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

During the winter, ice fishing is one of the best outdoor activities you can choose to do in Canada. It’s very exciting, affordable, and as soon as you get the grips of it, you’ll be addicted to it. Lucky for you, Canada has thousands of amazing ice fishing destinations. In fact, there are so many of them that it might be impossible to choose where to start exploring them.

An angler dropping his line into a hole in the ice. Ice drill next to him in ice

So we decided to give you an overview of some of our favorite ice fishing destinations in Canada. Each of these spots is unique in its own way, but all of them have something in common – amazing ice fishing! Without any further ado, let’s find out which ones made the list.

Lake of the Woods, MB/ON

Lake of the Woods is one of the largest freshwater lakes in North America. The lake has miles and miles of shoreline that’s easily accessible to anglers. During the winter, LOW becomes one of the premier ice fishing destinations in Canada. Many anglers travel across the country for a chance to ice fish on Lake of the Woods. Don’t be surprised if the lake starts to resemble a small town. Fishing is that good!

An ice fishing shack on the Lake of the Woods

The most sought-after fish on the lake is Walleye. They get pretty big around here and can reach some record sizes. It’s not uncommon to come across a fish that’s 25 inches long, which is well above their average size.

Besides Walleye, popular catches include Sauger, Crappie, Perch, and the acrobatic Northern Pike. Similar to Walleye, the Northern Pike that swim around Lake of the Woods tend to grow above their average size. Some of the biggest ones caught here reached 40 inches in length, and weighed over a whopping 20 pounds! Well, that’s a Pike we can all dream of reeling in.

Kathleen Lake, YT

Imagine a place located among snowy mountains, serene nature, and so remote that you’d need a snowmobile to reach the best fishing spots out there. No need to imagine anymore – all you have to do is visit the stunning Kathleen Lake, located in Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory.

An aerial view of the Kathleen Lake, one of the best ice fishing destinations in Canada. Kathleen river in the right down corner of the image. Mountains and forest also seen on the image

The scenery around the lake is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The dramatic alpine cirque and the King’s Throne overlooking the lake make the view from the water amazing. The water starts to freeze mid-winter, and ice covers the lake well into the spring.

The lake is also known as the “home of the Kokanee Salmon,” and you can expect to come across this specimen while ice fishing on the lake. Other species you can target here are Lake Trout, Whitefish, and Arctic Grayling.

While there are many local campgrounds around the lake, the winter might not be the best time to stay here. Winters in Yukon can get very cold, and staying in a cozy fishing lodge might be more suitable.

Lake Diefenbaker, SK

Lake Diefenbaker is one of Canada’s largest artificial lakes, and home to some of the best ice fishing in the country. The lake is also known for record-breaking fish. That goes for winter fishing, too!

A sunset over the frozen Lake Diefenbaker, one of top ice fishing destinations in Canada

Some of the species you can expect to come across are giant Walleye, monster Northern Pike, Perch, Whitefish, Lake Trout, and Burbot. Anglers have previously reported that all of these can be caught with appropriate baits. It might be a challenge due to the size of these fish, but it’s definitely worth trying.

Lake Diefenbaker has a vast shoreline and a number of great fishing spots. No matter how many anglers decide to show up, there’s enough space and large fish for everyone. There’s also some Sturgeon in the lake, but they’re not that common. However, if you do come across them, they’ll probably be huge. Although, you should also know that they require a special permit to be caught.

When it comes to guided fishing trips, you can choose between multi-day stays, or just hiring a local guide for a couple of hours. There are also many people who choose to go out on the ice on their own and enjoy the beautiful scenery by themselves.

Whiteswan Lake, BC

Situated in the backcountry of inland British Columbia, Whiteswan Lake is one of Canada’s best-kept ice fishing secrets. The lake is surrounded by high, rocky mountain peaks. Coming out on the frozen water at this time of year will feel like walking straight into a winter dream.

A small fishing rod next to a hole in the ice. Several caught fish in the background

There’s another thing here that will make you feel like you’re dreaming, and that’s world-class Rainbow Trout ice fishing. Whiteswan Lake is very accessible, and it’s a great spot for both beginners and seasoned anglers.

Those of you who are ice fishing for the first time can easily get the hang of it and reel in some fish. Additionally, those who have some experience can also have a great time trying to catch huge Rainbow Trout. That’s why Whiteswan Lake is a good family destination, especially if one or two family members have more experience than the others.

The lake is very easy to navigate. However, if it’s your first time fishing or you want to learn more about great spots and the fish’s behavior on the lake, you can always hire a local guide to show you around.

Lake Winnipeg, MB

One of central Canada’s most pristine fisheries, Lake Winnipeg, stretches out 270 miles from north to south. It’s the eleventh biggest lake on the planet! However, the majority of the lake is still quite undeveloped. That makes Lake Winnipeg the perfect place for anglers who want to go off the beaten path and avoid crowds of fishers.

A view over the frozen Lake Winnipeg, one of Canada's top ice fishing destinations

Reaching the lake from the capital of Manitoba is a breeze, and you’ll need just an hour to get there. As soon as you arrive, you’ll be mesmerized by the unspoiled boreal forests and humming rivers that surround the lake.

When it comes to fishing on the lake, you’ll come across some of the best Walleye bites in Canada. Yes, Lake Winnipeg can compete with Lake of the Woods over which one has better Walleye fishing!

Winters on the lake can get really cold, but there’s nothing as rewarding as fighting trophy-sized fish all day long. Next to Walleye, you can also target Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Rainbow Trout, and Black Crappie.

After just one day of fishing on Lake Winnipeg, you’ll quickly see why the lake deserves a spot among other world-class ice fishing destinations.

Yellowknife, Great Slave Lake, NWT

Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America and the tenth-largest in the entire world. It’s also one of the most remote ice fishing destinations in Canada. If you’re wondering if it’s worth traveling such a distance for a fishing trip, let us tell you… It is!

aurora borealis on great slave lake

Anglers who decide to visit Yellowknife between mid-November and early April will have the chance to reel in Arctic Grayling, Inconnu, Lake Trout, Pickerel, and Whitefish. Besides fishing, the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis will shine a new light on your trip. You can see the Northern Lights in their full glory at this time of year.

The entire area near the lake has many fishing lodges where you can unwind and properly warm up after a day spent fishing. There are also many great local guides who can show you the best spots, and prepare your catch for you. You’ll be able to try out some of the best local fish recipes.

When it comes to the fishing trip itself, there are many options to choose from. You can stay warm in a heated ice fishing shack stocked with warm drinks, or you can just fish through a hole that’s drilled in the ice. After fishing, guides will prepare the catch and serve the lunch in the heated fishing tent.

Fishing on Great Slave Lake looks like you walked straight into a freezing winter fairytale!

Lake Superior, ON

Lake Superior is a great fishing destination year-round, and an icy cover won’t stop anglers who are looking for their favorite fish. The lake is covered with thick ice as early as December, and that’s when ice fishers come out of their summer sleep.

A fishing ice shack, a heated tent on frozen Lake Superior

As the winter kicks in, the most sought-after species are Splake, Walleye, Pike, and Perch. These are the most popular ones, but there are many more you can go after. Over the years, anglers have targeted Steelhead, Trout, Whitefish, and even Salmon when ice fishing!

When it comes to the variety of species you can catch while ice fishing, Lake Superior is definitely in a league of its own. That’s why thousands of ice fishers visit the lake every year, on both the Canadian and US side of the lake.

If you’re looking for something more unique than just ice fishing, you can hire a local guide that will show you the grips of a unique technique – bobbing for Trout. No matter which fishing spot or technique you decide to try out, we’re sure you’ll have a great time on the lake.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

An ice drill in ice

There you have it – these are some of the best ice fishing destinations Canada has to offer. However, you should know that this list doesn’t even begin to cover all the spots the country hides so well. Wherever you go in the Great White North, you’re in for a blast. Grab your rod or find a guide near you and find out!

Now, it’s up to you to embark on a journey to find the one you like the most. Once you do, don’t forget to let us know all about it in the comments below!

Comments (8)
  • Dave Desmarais

    Feb 25, 2021

    Kathleen Lake is beautiful, but there are far more accessible lakes that also don’t require a special license.
    Locals know.
    Lake Laberge, Litte Atlin Lake.
    Accessible, plentiful, beautiful

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      Aleksandra

      Feb 26, 2021

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your favorite spots with us! We’re aware of these beautiful lakes, but it wasn’t possible to include all of them in one list. Kathleen Lake was the one that our readers mentioned the most!

      We’ll keep these ones in mind for our next year’s list. 🙂

      Tight lines!

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  • Heather

    Jan 29, 2021

    Too bad the photo for Whiteswan isn’t from Whiteswan Lake! Those species shown are not found there or in the area.

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      Aleksandra

      Feb 1, 2021

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks for pointing this out. We’ll make sure to update this so that the image is relevant.

      Tight lines!

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  • Rob

    Jan 27, 2021

    Nice info; now if only the border would open up so the info would be relevant…

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      Aleksandra

      Feb 1, 2021

      Thanks, Rob! We’re counting the days, too!

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  • Piet

    Jan 9, 2021

    FYI: there are no lake trout in Lake Winnipeg.

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      Albert

      Jan 12, 2021

      Hi Piet,

      Thanks for getting in touch. That was a simple mix-up on our end (and maybe a little wishful thinking). Lakers have been stocked in Lake Winnipeg a few times over the years, so it’s theoretically possible that there are a few still holding out. If they are, though. nobody’s catching them, so we’ve now updated the article.

      All the best!

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