Ontario, Canada, the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’ has some truly spectacular freshwater fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. With over 250,000 lakes spread out across Ontario, four of which are Great Lakes, there are some fantastic angling opportunities.

Thanks to the mild climate and access to the Great Lakes, there’s a diverse range of angling opportunities for anglers of all ages and experience levels. If you’re looking for a destination trip close to the United States, Ontario, Canada, is an excellent option due to its close proximity.

During the colder winter months, the northern part of Ontario is a winter wonderland with fantastic ice-fishing opportunities. In the following Ontario Fishing Seasons guide, we’ll cover:

If you love fishing and you’re planning a destination fishing trip, be sure to check out Maximize Your Catch: Guide to the Best Freshwater Fishing Baits! It covers everything you need to know in about maximizing your freshwater catch by choosing the best baits for your target species.

Finding somewhere to go fishing in Ontario isn’t hard because of all the lakes, but finding the best spots, with the best chances of catching a fish, is a lot harder, especially if you’re new to the angling scene in Ontario, Canada, or on holiday. Without local knowledge, you’re up against the odds. Even the most experienced anglers need a little help when they’re trying a new location such as Ontario, CA.

That’s why you’ll need the premium Fishing Forecasting App and Fishbox App. Thanks to the Fishbox App, you’ll know the perfect season to plan your destination trip to Ontario, including when your target species is most active and where your best chance of catching a fish will be.

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Expert Opinion on Ontario Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“While I have fished in Canada only once in my life, I have never had the opportunity to fish in Ontario specifically—though it is on my bucket list. I love how one of the first things the article mentions is the broad area of fishing you have access to in this part of Canada specifically. You have access to some of the Great Lakes and even the Hudson Bay as well as a variety of rivers, streams, and other smaller bodies of water within the area. Immediately after, the article goes into great detail about the fishing seasons in Ontario breaking them down into the four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. This is extremely helpful for those traveling to Ontario or planning a trip there to better narrow down how they would like to spend their time and what they would want to fish for while in Canada. Spring in Ontario means a lot of pike, crappie, and perch action. Funny enough, I have never caught any of these species—I know it’s embarrassing (especially the crappie part). This being said, I would definitely be heavily considering going to Ontario in the Spring just to catch some of these new species. Additionally, the article provides some awesome locations where you can find some of these species based on a particular season. This is super helpful as it gives outside anglers a little head start. The article continues into the Summer talking about species like musky, walleye, different species of bass, and more. Again, this piqued my interest because I really want to catch a large musky one day and Ontario seems like an ideal place to do so. We continue into the fall where most of those same species are around for the most part beginning readers to ask the question: is Ontario that good year around? By all accounts and this article, it would seem that Ontario does have some spectacular year-round fishing. The article even throws in a few rivers and lakes to try for some of the species, which is a nice bonus. We continue into the winter where you would think the fishery dies down a little bit, but because of ice fishing, the fishery is red hot with species like lake trout and walleye biting. A little side note: I’ve actually never been ice fishing in my life and catching a Monster Lake trout while ice fishing is another thing on my ever-growing fishing bucket list. Aside from the conclusion, the last thing the article finishes with is a discussion of the fishery regulations and rules in Ontario, Canada. While this can be boring and tedious to read about sometimes, it does highlight an important part of the culture of fishing—we must care about what we are doing and make sure it is sustainable and healthy for everyone and everything involved. As anglers, we must be protective of our waters and what lives in them to ensure the health and safety of our fisheries for years to come.  So yes, while some of you may find it boring, it is important to familiarize yourself with these rules and regulations so you too can be a better steward of the environment that God has created. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and my commentary, and as always good luck and tight lines!”

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Understanding the Fishing Calendar in Ontario

The Ontario season is broken up into spring, summer, fall, and winter, with each of the different seasons offering its own unique challenges and rewards. There are a variety of factors, including weather, season, and species migration, which all influence how successful your trip will be.

When it comes to choosing a fishing season or target species, anglers in Ontario really are spoiled for choice with some many great fishing opportunities.

While summer is undeniably the peak season in Ontario, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get out on the water and chase a variety of fish species. Fall, spring, and winter each offer their own great fishing opportunities in On, Canada.

Whether it’s chasing Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) in spring from the banks or early summer angling for a delicious feed of Crappie, there truly is something for everyone.

In the next section, we’ll do a breakdown of each season, spring, summer, fall, and winter, looking at some of the diverse fishing opportunities available in Ontario, the best places to fish, and what species are biting.

Spring Fishing Season in Ontario

Spring angling in Ontario is a fantastic opportunity to get out after some monster Lake Trout. During spring, Lake Trout likes to hang out near the surface of the water, and they’re both hungry and aggressive. Swim jigs, spoons, and minnow baits are a great way to get after these monsters.

Large Northern Pike is on the menu in spring in Ontario, with feeder bays being a prime spot to target them as they feed. Any location close to where Northern Pike spawn will be an effective way to locate these large predatory fish. When you’re fishing, try targeting the dark areas at the bottom or emerging weed beds where Northern Pike can often be found resting and soaking up the warmth from the sun.

If the Pike isn’t biting, you can always try switching to smaller baits or even try varying your retrieve speeds. After they finish spawning, the Northern Pike often works with a much slower metabolism, so smaller baits can be more effective than the larger baits that you would use later in the Pike season.

If you’re chasing table fish, Crappies are a good target species in Spring in Ontario. Try targeting structures such as wooden docks, lily pads, and weed beds. Power Bair suspended under a small float is an effective method.

Perch are biting in Spring, and catching them with the family or new anglers without a lot of fishing experience can be a lot of fun. Jigs with a float, soft plastics, and small minnows are all a great way to bag yourself a bunch of Perch for a fish fry or family dinner.

Top 5 Spring Fishing Locations in Ontario

  1. Late-Season Ice Fishing – Spring may have arrived, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some late-season ice fishing in the northern parts of Ontario. The warmer spring weather makes ice fishing a lot more fun, and target species include Lake Trout, Perch, Whitefish, Crappie, and Northern Pike. Try checking up north to see if any of the colder areas still have frozen lakes available.
  2. Lake Trout in the Great Lakes – Lake Trout love water temperatures close to 50 degrees, and thanks to this, they are active in much more shallow water in spring. The Great Lakes are a prime location to mix it up with these freshwater monsters.
  3. Northern Pike – Northern Pike don’t wait long for the ice to melt before they start feeding, migrating, and staging before spawning, which makes them a fantastic spring target species in Ontario. Any of the northern areas that are beginning to thaw are a great place to chase spring Pike.
  4. Panfish Fishing for Perch – Perch are swarming the shallows as they get ready to spawn, and they can be great for family fishing adventures in Ontario. Small, subtle baits and lures are the way to catch these delicious fish.
  5. Spring Steelhead – We can’t talk about spring fishing in Ontario without mentioning Steelhead. In spring, Steelhead make long runs up the rivers from the Great Lakes as they get ready to spawn. Any tributary of the Great Lakes will be a target location for Steelhead runs in spring, but the Credit, Ganaraska, Saugeen, and Bighead are great places to start.

Summer Fishing Season in Ontario

The summer fishing may be at its peak in Ontario, but that doesn’t mean that summer fishing doesn’t come with its own set of unique challenges. After all, it’s no use fishing where the fish aren’t, and locating fish in the hot summer months can be a challenge even for experienced anglers.

There are a variety of factors you’ll need to consider when you head out fishing in the summer, including target species, weather, river or lake, and what the fish are doing at your specific fishing location.

If you’re targeting large Northern Pike or Muskies in the hot summer months, your best chance will be to target deep rock structures or weeds where the water is a lot colder. Don’t forget to check out any deep breaks or rock drops. If you’re fishing a lake that doesn’t have a lot of natural weed beds, these rock drops and breaks can be very productive.

A lot of large fish will be feeding on schools of Herring, Whitefish, and Cisco, so start by locating the schools of bait, and those monster fish won’t be far behind. Trolling can be an effective method, especially if your lure is down deep, but crankbaits around rocky areas can also pay dividends.

Your best bet of catching big Walleye in summer in Ontario is by fishing the deep, green weed beds. Start at around middle depth, and then, depending on fish strikes, start transitioning into deeper water. 10 to 12 feet is a great starting depth, but if there’s no action, try around the 20 to 30-foot range. Soft plastics, jigs, and live bait will all be effective on summer Walleye.

Early morning or late afternoon are going to be the best time to target most species during the hot summer months as during the peak heat, they’ll often be less active, instead hiding away in deep water. When the heat cools off, aggressive jig fishing or using crankbaits is a great way to hook into some big fish.

Other summer species include Lake Trout, Largemouth Bass, and Smallmouth Bass, along with most of the popular table fish like Bluegill, Crappie, and Perch. Overall, summer fishing in Ontario can be truly spectacular, and let’s be honest, the weather is just as great, which is always a plus for any fishing holiday or trip.

Fall Fishing Season in Ontario

Even in Ontario fall fishing can be challenging, despite the numerous fishing locations and fish species on offer to anglers, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some fantastic fishing opportunities to be had for fishing enthusiasts across the province.

Successful fall fishing in Ontario comes down to one key thing, bait fish. Perch, Bluegill, Suckers, and Sunfish are all out and about in large schools, aggressively hunting small baitfish.

If you’re targeting fall Northern Pike, Muskies, or any of the other large predatory freshwater species in Ontario, look for the baitfish. Large predatory fish species will be hunting schools of baitfish as they congregate for safety.

Fall Fishing in Ontario

Some of the most popular fall fishing species include Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Muskie, and Northern Pike. It’s essential to check out the regulations for where you plan on fishing before you cast a line, as regulations are different depending on what zone you’re fishing in Ontario.

Some of the best fall fishing locations in Ontario include the Ottawa River, Mattawa, and Temiskaming Shores for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. Muskie and Smallmouth Bass fishing in the Lake Huron fisheries is always reliable, especially in the Manitoulin Island, Killarney, and the French River areas.

Winter Fishing Season in Ontario

If you miss the warm summer fishing in Ontario, then you’re in luck because there is some fantastic winter fishing action to be had, especially in the north of the province. Around December, many of the northern lakes across Ontario start to freeze, allowing anglers to head out onto the ice and enjoy the hot winter fishing action.

For those that haven’t got a lot of ice fishing experience, many of the local charter operators switch from traditional fishing charters to ice fishing over the winter, which is a great way to get some experience out on the ice and could save you a lot of money investing in all the required ice fishing equipment.

People in Ontario take winter pretty seriously, and one of their favorite winter pastimes is catching fish through the ice. However, ice fishing can be extremely dangerous, especially if you don’t have any experience on the lake you’re fishing on. Always ensure that you know the thickness of the ice before venturing out, and if you have any doubts, err on the side of caution.

Top Winter Fish Target Species in Ontario

  • Lake Trout – Ice fishing in Ontario for Lake Trout is fantastic, with locals insisting that there are more Lake Trout in Ontario than anywhere else in the world. One of the best destinations for Lake Trout in Ontario has to be Lake Superior, but Lakes Nipigon, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Temagami are also great. Large Lake Trout take a long time to reach maturity, so keep the small ones to eat and return the big ones to breed.
  • Walleye – Walleye could be not only the tastiest fish in Ontario but also the most sought-after by anglers. Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean the Walleye aren’t still biting. Walleye are most active from dusk to dawn, with Lac des Mille Lacs, the Bay of Quinte, and Lake of the Woods all top Walleye fishing spots in Ontario.
  • Yellow Perch – If you’re searching for some delicious table fish, there’s nothing better than a feed of Yellow Perch. These abundant fish are not only fun to catch, but there are also a lot of them across Ontario, which makes them a great target species. Lake Superior, Lake Erie, and almost every other Ontario lake are great spots to land some Yellow Perch.

Some other fantastic winter fish species to target in Ontario, Canada, include Northern Pike, Musky, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Splake, Black Crappie, Bluegill, and White Fish.

Ontario Fishing Regulations and Guidelines

Ontario enjoys a healthy and robust fishery, and to ensure that their fishery remains this way, we all need to play our part as responsible anglers. Ontario’s fishing and angling regulations are developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in collaboration and consultation with stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, recreational anglers, the tourism industry, non-government agencies, and the public.

These fishing regulations are designed to ensure the ongoing sustainability of Ontario’s fishery for future generations of anglers to enjoy.

Anglers between the ages of 18 and 65 planning on fishing in Ontario will need to purchase and Ontario Fishing License. This applies whether you are fishing by yourself, privately, or on a professional fishing charter. It’s a good idea to brush up on all fishing regulations, including size, season, and bag limits, before fishing.

The province of Ontario is divided into different zones. This means that while you may be familiar with the regulations in the zone governing the Great Lakes, these regulations won’t apply or may be different in other zones. By visiting Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Website, you can get a full breakdown of the different zones, including size, bag, and season limits and rules.

Ontario 2024 Fishing Regulations Updates

If you’re planning on fishing in Ontario in 2024, there are some fishing regulation updates that you should be aware of. As responsible anglers, it’s our responsibility to check all regulations before fishing, as rules and regulations are subject to change throughout the season.

Below are some of the highlights:

  • Updates to the transportation of leeches and baitfish.
  • Updates to the slot size will help promote the conservation of Walleye and Sauger on Lake of the Woods.
  • Updates to the zone-wide seasons and limits for Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, and Largemouth Bass in FMZ 10.
  • Updates to the alignment of FMZ 10 and FMZ 11 limits and seasons in the French River for Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, and Northern Pike to make the rules easier for anglers.
  • The removal of single-line exceptions in the FMZ 9 (Lake Superior) and FMZ 19 (Lake Erie).
  • Additional angling opportunities for Lake Trout and Brook Trout in FMZ 8 and FMZ 10, along with modification to the fish sanctuaries in FMZ 10, FMZ 11, and FMZ 18.

Before you head out on the water fishing in Ontario, be sure to check out the entire 2024 Ontario Fishing Regulations summary.

Read also: Your comprehensive guide to fishing in Manitoba

Ontario Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

Thanks to the comprehensive information in the Ontario fishing seasons guide above, you’ll have everything you need to know in order to have a successful fishing trip in Ontario. Ontario is home to some exciting fish species and with the right information, you can enjoy some excellent fishing.

By being responsible anglers, following the bag, size, and season limits of the fish we catch, and purchasing the appropriate fishing licenses and permits, we can all ensure that future generations of anglers fishing in Ontario can enjoy the same excellent fishing action that we do. 

By using the advanced technology and features found in the Fishbox, you’ll be able to track weather conditions accurately and predict the best times to hit the water when planning your fishing trips in Ontario, Canada. The Fishbox App combines predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to give you optimal fishing opportunities in Ontario, CA, for freshwater fishing enthusiasts.

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The Fishbox App was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis by some of the world’s best analysists. These advanced forecasts will greatly increase your catch rate while also reducing the amount of time that you spend on the water. Take your next fishing trip in Ontario up a notch, thanks to expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

If you have ever fished in Ontario, or you’re an angler from Ontario with a lot of local experience, and you would like to share your knowledge, tips, and advice with other anglers planning their destination trip to Ontario, then drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you, and we’re sure other anglers would appreciate it too!

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