collage of fishing paddling boating

Top 5 BIG fishing holes of Northeastern Ontario

Northeastern Ontario: Undeniably Big, Unbelievably Close.

We couldn’t agree more! If you’re chasing a BIG fishing experience, this is the post for you.

Northeastern Ontario Tourism asked their readers to vote for their top fishing destinations and the votes are in!

Join us in counting down the top 5 BIG fishing holes of Northeastern Ontario:

5. Mattawa River

The Mattawa River runs from North Bay to the Town of Mattawa along the Quebec border, and is a good spot for boaters and paddlers alike.

Pine Lake Landscape on Mattawa River

The Mattawa holds Lake Trout, Small-mouth Bass, Northern Pike, Muskie, Walleye, and yowza!…

…some BIG Large-mouths!

Man holds up a largemouth bass

Want a basecamp? Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is located just 20 minutes from Mattawa River Provincial Park! In fact, you can canoe out of SamD onto the Mattawa.

Canoeing the river

Why not book a campsite and spend your trip chasing the big one?

In 2017, multispecies angler Ashley Rae of checked out the Mattawa River fishing scene. Here’s what she had to say.

4. Lake Temiskaming

On the Ontario-Quebec border, this lake is popular with anglers all year round. Lake Temiskaming has a length of 110 km, and is also one of the deepest lakes in Ontario.

boats on lake

Visit in the winter to join the commune of ice huts scattered across the lake’s surface. Or bring the boat over in the warmer seasons for some open-water adventure.

Lake Temiskaming’s waters are home to a wide variety of species, including Lake Trout, Walleye, Small-mouth Bass, Perch and Northern Pike.

boat marina

Done fishing for the day? There lots to do on Temiskaming Shores, from cheese tastings to golf!

3. Lake Temagami

Lake Temagami is a huge sprawling lake — 45 km from north to south, 35 km east to west — made up of long narrow arms, like spurs, from its centre. Over 1,200 islands dot its surface.

man in boat, holding fish

Planning a trip? Finlayson Point Provincial Park lies just south of the Village of Temagami, sharing shoreline and part of the Lake Temagami Skyline Preserve, a protected ring of pine forest that surrounds Lake Temagami.

The park’s boat basin provides dockage for boaters and anglers who want to take advantage of Finlayson Point’s location on scenic and fish-filled Lake Temagami.

Lake Temagami

Taking a break from the water? Climb Caribou Mountain and Fire Tower for some amazing views, or check out the historic silver mining town of Cobalt, which some of the Group of Seven painted.

2. French River

Beginning at Lake Nipissing, the French River flows 105 km southwest emptying into Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, and is the first ever Canadian Heritage River.

French River scenery

The river’s delta is a massive web of intertwined channels winding their way through the Canadian Shield rock face.

canoe beside high cliffs

This is a bucket-lister for sure. There are lots of ways to explore the river, from wilderness paddling to motor-boating, backcountry camping to private lodges (you’ll find 50+ private marinas and lodges along the river).

Still, if you’re after that perfect sunset catch and wilderness tranquility, we recommend backcountry paddling.

You just can’t beat the scenery!

French River is a prolific spot for Walleye, Small-mouth Bass and Northern Pike.

After some mega Muskie? Check out this recap by pro-angler Ashley Rae.

man holding muskie

1. Lake Nipissing

In the eyes of NeONT’s voters, Lake Nipissing was the BIG winner for anglers.

fish on hook

FIRST of all, we highly recommend combining Lake Nipissing and French River at some point in your fishing lifetime. French River (upper), above Dokis Dam, is basically a long bay of Lake Nipissing.

In fact, experienced paddlers and anglers can start at Georgian Bay and follow the French River all the way to Lake Nipissing! Backcountry paddlers also launch from Restoule Provincial Park and navigate through to the big lake.

boat in marina

With North Bay perched on the lake’s eastern shoreline, and various outfitters and lodges around other access points, it’s no wonder Nipissing is a crowd-pleaser!

Be warned: this is a BIG lake with a surprisingly shallow depth. Keep safety in mind and speeds low when navigating, especially if you’re a first-time visitor.

That said, the shallow depths, combined with lots of islands and shoals, create lots of great structure for species like Walleye, bass, Burbot, pike and Whitefish.

With its variety of species, access points, and accommodation, Lake Nipissing’s a favourite with anglers of all sorts. If you haven’t explored its waters yet, perhaps it’s time to plan a trip.

Need your fishing fantasies fulfilled? Start planning your escape to Northeastern Ontario’s BIG angling destinations today!

Ontario Parks would like to thank corporate partners like Northeastern Ontario Tourism for their support.