With less than a month to go until winter officially starts, it’s a good time to talk about one of the season’s most popular pastimes – ice fishing. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ice fishing destinations in Canada, especially if you’re new to the hobby. That’s where we come in!
We’ve put together a list of 8 ice fishing destinations in Canada you don’t want to miss in the up and coming season. When you see what sets them apart from the competition, we’re sure you’ll find a spot right up your alley. One thing’s for sure – there’s no wrong choice here. Any one of these places is a world-class ice fishing destination.
Muskoka Lakes, ON
With more than 1,600 lakes, Muskoka just goes to show that there are places with both quality and quantity going for them. Ice fishing enthusiasts from all over the country head on down year after year to drill some holes and catch some fish. All of that just a two-hour drive away from Toronto! Sitting in a cozy fishing hut and talking with your family while you drink hot cocoa and wait for a fish to bite is a relaxing experience like no other.
Fittingly, one of the largest lakes in the area is Lake Muskoka. An excellent Walleye fishery, you can also find Lake Trout, Whitefish, and Pike lurking under the ice. Their size is nothing to scoff at, either. For example, your average Lake Trout isn’t that big, but every year you hear that someone landed a 25-pounder on the lake.
If you want to make a trip out of it, there are several local businesses that offer ice fishing packages that include ice huts as well as accommodation for spending the night. A good number of these lakes freeze quickly in December, so you can head on the ice right after New Year’s Eve.
A lot of people associate ice fishing with frozen lakes, but there’s good times to be had on rivers too. In this case, we’re talking about the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. Only an hour’s drive from Quebec City, the quaint little town of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade is where we recommend you begin your ice fishing journey.
Let’s start with the basics. Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade is widely known as the capital of Tommy Cod fishing. Also known as Tomcod or Winter Cod, its fine and tasty flavor makes for a delicious stew or chowder. Thanks to this, you have thousands of people making their way here every winter to join the festivities, have fun, and eat a lot of fish.
All those people need to fish somewhere, which is why this picturesque town has the largest fishing village in the province, with 500 huts open every winter. For the more adventurous of you out there, you can try your hand at snowmobiling (an original Quebecois staple), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and so much more. You won’t run out of things to do in this neck of the woods, that’s for sure!
Last Mountain Lake, SK
The darling of Southern Saskatchewan, Last Mountain Lake is a popular fishing destination both in the warmer months but also when everything freezes over. If you’re looking for a more rustic experience far from any major cities, this is the place to go. Breathe in the fresh air, drill a couple of holes, and wait for the fish to arrive.
Speaking of fish, Walleye will be your main target when it comes to ice fishing. They’re aggressive, fun to catch, and at the end of the day, very tasty. With just a little luck, you might even nab a big one and break your personal best. What’s not to like?
Last Mountain Lake is 91 kilometres long, but its size doesn’t become apparent until you’re looking at the horizon with your own eyes. If you’re worried about finding a good spot amidst all that ice, we have a few to get you started. For early in the season, try setting up camp near Grandview Beach, near the stone barn. Another well-known Walleye hangout is over at Sarnia Beach, on the west side of the lake.
Newfoundland Ponds, NL
Also known as “The Rock,” Newfoundland is Canada’s fourth largest island. Like most other islands, fishing and other marine activities are an important part of local history and culture. Take some time to do a bit of sightseeing and you’ll be amazed at the biodiversity on display. Visit the deep fjords and tall mountains, see the caribou and moose – and, of course, go fishing!
One of the best ways to experience local ice fishing is by heading out to ponds dotted across the island. The ice season usually starts on February 1, once the ice is thick enough to safely stand on. Depending on the circumstances, some areas might wait until March, so do your homework before heading out.
As for the actual fish, you’ll have your pick of Brook Trout, land-locked Salmon, and Arctic Char. If by some miracle you’ve grown tired of Walleye fishing, this should prove to be a refreshing change of pace. The local Trout, especially, are no slouches and will make for an excellent meal at the end of the day.
Wabamun Lake, AB
Some 50 kilometres west of Edmonton you’ll find another popular year-round fishery – Wabamun Lake. For more than a century it’s been a popular destination for freshwater anglers looking to go after Northern Pike, Lake Whitefish, and Yellow Perch. In recent years, though, things got more complicated.
Unfortunately, an oil spill accident prompted the local government to officially declare it a catch and release fishery in 2008. Good news is, harvesting fish from Wabamun Lake is once again back on the menu after 13 years. Given enough time, we hope new anglers will bring this lake back to the spotlight where it should be.
In some cases though, Wabamun Lake is ahead of the curve. For example, you have ice anglers enjoying the recent trend of luxury shacks. These are decked out with satellite TV, video game systems, and other premium features. Ice fishing has never been so comfortable!
When it comes to ice fishing in particular, you’ll most likely get a bite from Walleye, Lake Whitefish or Burbot. Since people often overlook Burbot as sport fish, we’d encourage you to give these big bad boys a shot. They’re voracious, stubborn, and you won’t regret taking a couple home for dinner.
Most people who’ve heard of Whistler know it as the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s also a big name in the alpine skiing community, for good reason. But here we’ll be focusing on the excellent ice fishing you can experience so close to these breathtaking mountain ranges. When you’ve packed up your skis, pick up the augur because this is a fishery you don’t want to miss.
Pavilion Lake is a good place to start with if you’re a fan of Rainbow Trout fishing. If you come in at the right time, you can sign up for an ice fishing tournament organized by the local community. Another good option for Rainbows is Lost Lake. It’s closer to Whistler itself and overall a better option if you’re strapped for time. Annually stocked with 1,000 Rainbow Trout, there will always be something biting under the ice.
Anglers who want more diversity in their Trout fishing should take a look at Lake Lucille instead. While there are still plenty of Rainbows to go around, there are also good numbers of Cutthroat and Brook Trout to make things more interesting. The Showh Lakes are another excellent option that are known for fly fishing in the warmer months as well as ice fishing when everything’s frozen over.
Lake Athapapuskow, MB
The eastern edge of Manitoba is home to Lake Athapapuskow, known for its spectacular Lake Trout fishery. In fact one of its world records was held for over 40 years! Its track record is still going strong today, and if you want to reel in a trophy catch through the ice this is a fishery you shouldn’t miss.
Trout are definitely the main attraction in these parts, but you can also go ice fishing for Walleye, Northern Pike, Burbot, Perch, and Whitefish in the surrounding lakes. It’s best to do this with a guide who can show you where to go for your species of choice. If you ask us, spending the week at a rustic lodge is the ideal way to have a fishing adventure in this part of Manitoba.
The only downside of Lake Athapapuskow is that it’s more remote compared to some other ice fishing destinations in Canada. If getting there doesn’t present a challenge to you, do yourself a favor and go after some big fish!
Great Slave Lake, NT
Last, but certainly not least, we have another remote fishing haven, this time in the Northwest Territories. Great Slave Lake has made our list twice in a row now, and that should tell you everything you need to know about the fishing potential there.
But to recap, this lake is the ideal place to fish for trophy Lake Trout (they go up to 60 pounds here,) Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, and more besides. As with Athapapuskow Lake, we highly recommend staying in a lodge for a few days and heading out with an experienced guide who’ll show you around.
To top it all off, you’ll be right in time to enjoy the visual spectacle of the Northern Lights. Once you’ve seen it with your own eyes you’ll understand why people keep coming back here for more every year.
Ice Fishing in Canada – Never Out of Fashion
While we wanted to cover some of the best ice destinations fishing Canada has to offer, fitting every single one of those here would be an impossible task. Then again, the number of great spots is one of the things we love the most about fishing in Canada. Hopefully we managed to inspire you to test the ice this season, especially if you’ve never had the pleasure before!
Curious about our other picks from last year? Go and read all about our 2021 top spots here. Did we feature your favorite ice fishing destination in Canada? If so, any tips for the newbies out there? If not, let us know where you’re headed this season, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.