Ice fishing in Ontario is having a moment. When temperatures start to plunge, a vibrant wintry scene rises atop countless frozen lakes dotted across the province like spilled milk. Pulling a fish from a hole drilled into a vast expanse of ice can be a thrill and people of all ages and experience levels are catching on. Local outfitters are responding to the increased demand by offering everything needed to make a day (or night) on the ice easy, fun and comfortable. Whether you’re a serious angler looking to fish year‑round or a beginner testing the frozen waters for the first time, here are eight iconic Ontario ice fishing lakes to drop your line in. Dress warmly, pack some glove‑friendly food and get out there.
Photo: Simon Matzinger
Lake Simcoe ice fishing —With its shores less than an hour’s drive north of Toronto, Lake Simcoe gets the crowds to live up to its moniker as the “Ice Fishing Capital of Canada.” But with 744 square kilometres of frozen water, there’s plenty of space to find solitude if that’s what you’re after. Book a heated hut on the east shore with Tim Hales Fish Huts and arrive there in retro style aboard a vintage Bombardier B7 snow coach.
Photo: Destination Northern Ontario
Lake Nipissing ice fishing —Winter anglers head to this frozen paradise in Northeastern Ontario with one species of fish on their mind. Walleye thrive in Nipissing’s relatively shallow and dark waters, and the rush of pulling one up is matched by the anticipation of frying it up afterward. Let Rob’s Fishing Charters, who have been hosting guests in their ice bungalows for over 32 years, hook you up with one of these golden‑yellow hued beauties.
Photo: Aaron Burden
Lake Erie ice fishing —Lake Erie is home to the most fish of all the Great Lakes and its southern location means warmer temperatures, at least by Ontario winter standards. Your line will be bobbing with bites in no time and your pail will quickly fill up with perch or pike. The guides at Jimmy Riggin’ Fishing Charters will chauffeur you to their heated huts on Long Point Bay via a snowmobile drawn sleigh (your backside will be thankful for the padded seating).
Photo: Credit Valley Conservation Foundation
Island Lake ice fishing —Those who like their fishing paired with a little friendly competition might want to try their luck by entering one of the many ice fishing derbies held each season across the province. A good bet, whether you’re looking to catch the big one or just soak up the lake‑top atmosphere, is The Island Lake Ice Fishing Derby near Orangeville, held annually in early February.
Photo: Adam Bixby
Lake Temagami ice fishing —Whether you’re after lake trout or the elusive ling fish (an eel‑like species in appearance with a feisty attitude to match its looks), the pristine lakes that dot the northeastern landscape of Ontario offer up endless opportunities for pulling fish from icy water. On Lake Temagami, you’ll find a range of structures to fish out of, from old‑school plywood shacks to overnight luxury ice bungalow rentals like those at Loon Lodge.
Photo: Big Moose Camp
Lake Nosbonsing ice fishing —Just south of North Bay, Lake Nosbonsing is much smaller than neighbouring Lake Nipissing and a perfect choice for a family ice fishing getaway. Book a cabin from Ray and Shelley, the friendly owners of Big Moose Camp, and skip the usual snowmobile ride out to your fishing spot. Their ice huts are only a five‑minute walk from shore, so you’ll get the full winter angling experience while still being able to quickly escape back to the comforts of your on‑land accommodation at any moment.
Photo: Outdoor Junkys
Lake Couchiching ice fishing —Imagine ice fishing from a lake that Gordon Lightfoot named a song after. It doesn’t get much more Canadian than that. Separated from Lake Simcoe by a narrow channel, Lake Couchiching is stocked with perch and northern pike, with some of the latter stretching the fish scale at close to 10 pounds. To up your chances of landing a pike, book one of the knowledgeable guides from Outdoor Junkys who know all the secret spots. Pike have fang‑like teeth, so if you do catch one maybe let the guide unhook it.
Photo: Northwest Outfitters
Lake of the Woods ice fishing —Lake of the Woods is a great choice if you’ve ever wanted to land a lake trout. These fish love cold water and in winter they emerge from the depths where they’re usually confined. Expect a workout if you do hook a “laker” as some can weigh 18 pounds or more. Sunrise and sunset are when they feed, so instead of rolling out of bed to fish why not just do it from your bed? Northwest Outfitters’ luxury Ice Castle fish house lives up to its name with all the amenities you’d find in a hotel room, plus bedside fish holes, of course.