Canada’s pristine forests and crystal clear waters make the country a fishing spot legends and dreams are made of. Over 200 species of fish, including huge trout, gargantuan northern pike, walleye, as well as graying, whitefish, and six species of salmon, beckon anglers to the Canadian wilderness. This combined with numerous fishing lodges across the country, make Canada fishing tours one of the most coveted outdoor vacations on earth, drawing over three million anglers from around the globe each year. Here is a summary of the most popular fish species and fishing spots in Canada:
Also known as mackinaw, lake trout are one of the most highly sought-after freshwater species in Canada, growing up to over three feet in length, with the world record breaking the scales at over 100 pounds! Brook and rainbow trout are known to reach lengths of 30 inches and almost 15 pounds, and brown trout inhabit most waterways across the country.
• Northern Pike
Perhaps the most aggressive freshwater predator, the northern pike, will viciously attack virtually anything that moves in or on top of the water. From other fish and frogs to small birds and mammals, nothing in the pike’s line of sight is safe. These fish are so aggressive they have been known to bite the fingers of people who unwittingly dip their hands in the water. Pike in Canada average 20 inches in length and 3.5 pounds, with the record reaching over 50 inches long and over 45 pounds.
• Arctic Grayling
Ranking with the rainbow trout as one of the most beautiful fish that swims, the grayling, with its sail-like dorsal fin and iridescent red, aqua, and purple spots, is one of the most sought-after species on Canada fly fishing tours. The current International Game Fish Association world record Arctic grayling was caught in Canada’s Northwest Territories and weighed just under six pounds and measured 24 inches in length. The average size is 14 to 16 inches, and it weighs around two pounds. At the right times in suitable waters, anglers can pull in up to 40 fish in a single day.
The name “whitefish” is used generically for a wide variety of fish, but the types that inhabit the cold waters of the north are of the species Coregonus clupeaformis. Plentiful in lakes and larger rivers, these small-mouthed, silver fish belong to the Salmonidae family that includes salmon and trout, but have pure-white meat, and their highly prized eggs are sold as “golden caviar.” Whitefish average approximately 16 inches in length and two pounds in weight. However, they can grow to over 25 inches and weigh over 6 pounds.
Sometimes referred to as yellow pike and often called pickerel in Canada, walleye are named for the glassy-like appearance of their eyeballs. Walleye are highly prized as table fare with a light, flaky meat that some say tastes like lobster. Walleye are aggressive feeders, strong fighters when hooked, and will take a variety of bait. Fish average 25 to 30 inches in length and weigh from six to 10 pounds. Walleye average 15” to 30” in length and can weigh up to 10lbs.
With five species of Pacific salmon on the west coast and Atlantic salmon on the east, Canada offers anglers the chance at all six species of North American salmon. Salmon are one of the top fish targeted on Canada fishing tours, with the peak season running from mid-June through late September as all species migrate upriver from the ocean to spawn.
The Best Spots for Canadian Fishing Tours
While you can plan your own Canadian fishing trip, there are a number of full-service lodges that offer all-inclusive luxury fishing tours. Here is a rundown of the top fishing outfitters in Canada:
• Athabasca Fishing Lodges
Set on Lake Athabasca, near the 60th parallel in northwest Saskatchewan, the Athabasca Fishing Lodges offers some of Canada’s premier fishing adventures providing guests with a wide variety of fishing and luxury accommodations. Lake Athabasca holds huge trout, giant northern pike, Arctic grayling, walleye, and whitefish, and their list of repeat customers is a testament to the lodge’s dedication to their guests. Well-appointed cabins with all the comforts of home, all meals, fishing guides with boats, tackle, and daily maid service is provided.
• Aylmer Lodge
Located 500 miles northwest of Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Aylmer Lodge is fast becoming the destination of choice for luxury fishing tours for catching trophy mackinaw and arctic grayling in a true wilderness setting. The pristine waters of Aylmer and nearby Clinton Colden Lake have consistently produced some of the biggest lake trout in Canada. The average laker weighs in at 20 pounds, with the lodge record being a whopping 58 pounds! Together the two lakes cover an 80-mile stretch with water so clear the mammoth trout can be seen swimming 15 feet down in the water. The lodge provides fully furnished cabins, all meals, and fully equipped 16-foot Crestliner fishing boats.
• Igloo Lake Lodge
Set 200 miles inland from the east coast and 72 miles southeast of Goose Bay near the 53rd parallel, Igloo Lake Lodge borders Mealy Mountain National Park Reserve in the unspoiled wilderness of remote Labrador. Igloo Lake is part of the famed Eagle River watershed and one of the best areas in the country for booking Canada fishing tours. Famous for its large hungry brook trout and northern pike, fly-out trips for Arctic char and Atlantic salmon are available, depending on the season. The 1,700 square-foot lodge, capable of accommodating up to 10 guests, provides all the comforts of home with five twin bedrooms and two full baths as well as a kitchen and dining room where gourmet meals are cooked and served. A rustic style great room provides guests a place to relax with a drink and tell each other the day’s tall fishing tales.
• Restigouch River Lodge
Located less than 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the Restigouch River Lodge sits on the banks of the famed Restigouche River in Mann’s Mountain. The lodge holds exclusive fishing rights to a 3.5-mile stretch of crystal clear river where Atlantic salmon make their way upriver to spawn. The months of June and July are prime time for these Canada fly fishing tours as the river sees between 15,000 and 25,000 salmon each year. Salmon up to 30 pounds are common, and a few 40-plus pounders are taken every year. The main lodge can accommodate up to 12 anglers, and a cottage and guest camp are also available. A main dining lodge serves three gourmet meals a day and provides a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding Appalachian range.
With more waterways to fish and fish to catch than any angler could hope to tackle in two lifetimes, a Canadian fishing adventure does not have to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you are ready to experience the thrill for yourself, Wildside Adventures Travel Service books Canada fishing tours as well as luxury fishing tours and hunting excursions around the world. He hosted “Joe’s Wildside Adventures” for 10 years on the Sportsman Channel, FOX, and ROOT Sports. Visit Joe’s YouTube channel WildsideJoe to see some of his adventures. You can contact Joe at Wildside Adventures Travel Service, wildsidejoe.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 412-352-8703.