In Canada, the ice fishing season begins with anticipation. As soon as the temperature drops and the lakes and rivers freeze, it’s game on. Anglers from all over the country live for these icy winters, eager to see what trophies the next season will bring. And it looks like ice fishing destinations in Canada will be as magical in 2023 as they’ve always been.
It’s an excellent time to think about your next ice fishing destination for this winter. Are you going to stay cozy inside a heated ice fishing shanty or explore the spots on your snowmobile? Lucky for you, Canada is home to thousands of incredible ice fishing locations. In fact, there are so many of them in each province, that they wouldn’t all fit in a series of thick books!
To that end, we’ve put together a list of nine world-class ice fishing destinations in Canada for you to drop your line in. So, dress warmly, pack your gear, and let’s dive in.
Lake Nipissing, Ontario
Lake Nipissing is located in Northeastern Ontario, around 50 kilometres east of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. With a total surface area of 873 square kilometres, this frozen paradise harbors many exciting species and productive ice fishing spots.
While Lake Nipissing is known for its amazing Walleye population that thrives in these shallow waters, there are plenty of other species to target through the ice. Thanks to an abundance of food, the lake is also home to Northern Pike and Perch, which can grow impressively big here. Winter anglers also look for small schools of Whitefish and the occasional Burbot.
Your choice of spot will depend on several factors, including which species you’re after. Walleye bite best near Blueberry Island just off the southern shoreline, all the way to Goose Island, along with Calendar Bay, Deep Bay, and Smith Island. Pike anglers work the ice in Cache Bay, which sits in the northeastern part of Lake Nipissing. The flats between the North Bay and Manitou Island are best suited for Perch fishing.
Lake Nipissing’s ice fishing season usually stretches from January all the way to mid-March.
Tobin Lake, Saskatchewan
As soon as the rivers and lakes all across Saskatchewan freeze, it’s fish on. Winter anglers set up their ice fishing shacks in their favorite spots, and the fabulous Tobin Lake is no exception. This lake is known not only for its winter fishing frenzy but also for record-breaking Walleye.
Tobin Lake was formed back in 1963 and has since become one of the best ice fishing spots for monster Walleye and Lake Trout. Most locals would always point to the lake when asked where the trophies are hiding. And it’s not just about Walleye and Trout; Perch, Whitefish, Burbot, and Pike are also on the winter menu.
Additionally, the mighty Saskatchewan River serves as Tobin Lake’s primary inflow and outflow. With that in mind, anglers can even come across Sturgeon!
Cold Lake, Alberta
Cold Lake is widely known as one of the best ice fishing lakes in the province, and for good reason. With over 370 square kilometres of surface area and a maximum depth of 100 metres, Cold Lake may seem like an ocean. It’s simply hard to miss. It’s home to a friendly, welcoming ice fishing community that gladly shares its knowledge with visitors and locals alike. Plus, winter brings snowy owls to the area from farther north!
Cold Lake boasts a selection of fish species, including Perch, Burbot, Walleye, and Northern Pike. However, the thriving population of Lake Trout is something that makes this lake truly special. Come winter, anglers from both Alberta and neighboring Saskatchewan make their winter pilgrimage to get in on the Lake Trout ice fishing action.
If that’s not enough, there’s even an annual ice fishing tournament for Lake Trout anglers, where ice enthusiasts hunt for real trophies. In fact, there’s even a “Cold Lake Special” jig with a stronger hook attached.
Lake Erie, Ontario
The mighty Lake Erie is home to the most fish of all the Great Lakes combined, and the Ontario portion of it is no exception. Its generous winter season is focused on Pech and Pike, although other species aren’t uncommon either. Winter anglers highly enjoy Lake Erie’s relatively warmer temperatures and amazing ice fishing opportunities.
Some anglers set up heated huts on Long Point Bay, while others explore different spots throughout the lake whenever the conditions permit. Perch enthusiasts hop on their snowmobiles and sleighs and head to the inner bay of Long Point, which is locally known as the “Perch Capital of Ontario.”
In February, many anglers hunt for Perch and Walleye around Catawba State Park whenever the conditions are right. In fact, some fishermen walk out right onto the ice, drill a hole, and fish without a hut.
Lake of Two Mountains, Québec
The beautiful Lake Of Two Mountains sits near the city of Montreal in Québec. During the cold winter months, hundreds of anglers pack their gear and snowmobiles, leaving the megapolis to enjoy some quality ice fishing. The Lake Of Two Mountains’ winter menu is pretty generous, although one species definitely stands out.
The frozen lake is best known for its healthy populations of Smallmouth Bass. Smallies are catch-and-release species, and catching them is a challenging task that requires some serious angling skills. Needless to say, though, it’s worth it.
Bass aside, the Lake Of Two Mountains ice fishing scene also includes Northern Pike and even Sturgeon among others. The best part about the winter season here is that you can target some quality game species right by the largest city in Québec!
Lake Laberge, Yukon
Nestled in the Yukon wilderness, the deep Lake Laberge was formed during the last Ice Age. Essentially, it’s a widening of the Yukon River which flows in one end and out the next. There are numerous bays and kilometres of beaches, surrounded by mountain peaks.
Lake Laberge has clear and cold waters with a mix of shallow bays and deep pockets. Which, in turn, allows visitors to enjoy quality fishing even during the cold winter months. While anglers can fish for the usual Yukon fish species, Burbot is especially good through the ice.
The Lake Laberge ice fishing community is pretty diverse: you can come across fishing veterans and families with young children. Some anglers drill holes without putting down a hut just to see what’s biting, although some winter enthusiasts like to spend their whole day looking for fish. A lot of families spend their day on Lake Laberge during the annual Family Ice Fishing Day sponsored by the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Bay of Quinte, Ontario
The Bay of Quinte is located between the Napanee and Belleville areas, zigzagging from the eastern tip of Prince Edward County to Carrying Place in the west. There are a number of tributaries, hundreds of small inlets, and plenty of smaller bays, all perfect for ice fishing.
Ice fishing enthusiasts like to explore different honey holes throughout the Bay of Quinte and the neighboring bays. There’s Trenton Bay right where the Trent River meets the Bay of Quinte, along with Telegraphs Narrows and Hay Bay a couple of kilometers south.
Overall, this area is among the best ice fishing spots in the province, especially if you’re after Walleye. The winter season is also good for Bass, Pike, and Panfish – or a nice mixed bag.
Logan Lake, British Columbia
Recognized as a world-class Rainbow Trout fishery, Logan Lake is located at the heart of the town named after the lake. As winter comes to the valley, the snow falls and the temperatures drop, Logan Lake becomes a winter wonderland. It’s hardly surprising that it’s also one of the best ice fishing destinations Canada has to offer.
The hard water season begins sometime around late December with the peak of Rainbow Trout fishing. Oxygen levels are still high, which makes the fish as hungry as ever. Rainbows hang out in relatively shallow areas, cruising the bottom in search of leeches, snails, and other invertebrates in muddy and weeded areas.
Ice anglers drill holes in the areas with flat shoals and drop-off ledges, looking for the weed lines. If the conditions are right, anglers can also come across other interesting fish species that hide beneath the ice.
Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories
The Great Slave Lake is in the top ten largest lakes in the world. As the deepest lake in North America, it’s actually one of the most remote ice fishing destinations in Canada. Anglers travel to Yellowknife between mid-to-late-November and late March, hoping to reel in Whitefish, Pickerel, and Lake Trout, as well as Inconnu and Arctic Grayling.
A trip to the lake is like jumping right into a winter fairytale. The area near the lake has a lot of fishing lodges and, of course, knowledgeable guides. Some Great Slave Lake anglers get to their spot on snowmobiles or walk right on the ice, while others drill a hole from a heated ice fishing shack. Needless to say that a lot of visitors come for a full ice fishing extravaganza and stay for a few days, or even a full week whenever the conditions allow.
Besides ice fishing, visitors to Great Slave Lake get a chance to witness the Northern Lights in their full glory.
Ice Fishing in Canada – A Winter Wonderland
While we did our best to cover some of the best ice fishing destinations in Canada for 2023, to name them all is next to impossible. There are so many winter fishing spots in every single province that ice fishermen are practically spoiled for choice. And that’s, perhaps, the best part about the Great White North. So, grab your gear, pick a spot, find a guide, and head out to enjoy your own winter wonderland!
What’s your favorite ice fishing destination in Canada? What about your favorite winter destination in the country? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re curious about our other picks from last year, read all about our 2022 top spots here.