Tips on Fly Fishing Ontario Rivers for Trout
Ontario is a huge province in Canada with a ridiculous number of lakes, rivers, and streams. With all these water bodies, it is a fly fishing anglers dream! I started fly fishing in the rivers when I was 10 years old and I have been hooked ever since. I do enjoy lake and stream fishing as well, but I find that my best adventures are on the rivers.
Whether you prefer wading or fly fishing from a drift boat, Ontario has plenty of options for all levels of experienced anglers. I personally enjoy the boat experience as you get to hit a magnitude of perfect fishing holes throughout the day. With wading, you usually have to walk quite the distance to get to a good hole. Nonetheless, I do plenty of both.
This blog will go over different tips and tricks for fly fishing in Ontario’s rivers, what types of fish to catch, how to target trout, different fly patterns to use, where to find the fish, and the top rivers in the province. Whether you live in Ontario, or you are thinking of taking a fishing trip there, I highly suggest you experience the thrill of catching some beauty trout on a fly rod in Ontario.
Let’s dive in!
What types of fly fishing work best for river fishing?
- Different rivers will experience different insect hatches. Some rivers will get many mayfly hatches and another river might get stonefly or caddis hatches. Most rivers do see a good variety of different hatches.
- Matching the hatch isn’t just for highly experienced fly fishing anglers. If you are new to fishing, you definitely want to be trying to match the hatch. I find that the two main reasons why new anglers have such a hard time matching the hatch is because they are too eager to start fishing as soon as they get to the water, and the second one being that they don’t have enough flies in their fly cases.
- Anglers that match the hatch can light it up when it comes to landing fish in their landing nets. They will have tight lines all day compared to anglers that are simply winging it with random fly patterns. There are some days when there is no hatch on and the common fly patterns aren’t working, then yes, you have to wing it and start trying random fly patterns to see what will work.
In my experience, it’s best to use fly patterns that make sense for the time of year, the fish you are targeting and what you are hoping to achieve. What I mean by all of this, is if grasshoppers are everywhere in the grass, then you will probably want to tie on a hopper. If a solid stonefly hatch is happening, tie on the same color and size of stonefly. If you are looking at catching large trout, tie on a streamer. If fish are rising non-stop to the surface, tie on a dry fly, and most importantly, if the fish aren’t rising, then nymphs will be the way to go if you want to catch as many fish as possible.
Nymphing is by far the best type of fishing if you want to land as many fish in your net as possible. The reason for this is that fish feed on subsurface insects the most. Matching your hook to the fish’s main food source will generally yield you the most strikes.
What fly patterns work best in Ontario rivers?
There are certain fly patterns that work great all around the world, they are common for a reason, they simply work well regardless of the river. Different fish species target different fly patterns and their sizes, but overall, these following fly patterns work great and they can all be found at the Zinger Fishing store.
Zinger Fishing sells assortment packs of flies that are a great discount and they are perfect for anglers trying to grow their fly arsenal. The top seller is the 60 case, but the 75 case and the 121 nymph case are awesome too.
What fly fishing equipment to use in Ontario?
For starters, the fly fishing in Ontario will be mostly freshwater. Ontario does border the Hudson Bay to the north which would be saltwater, but this blog is focused on the freshwater rivers.
For most trout fly fishing, a 5-6 weight fly rod, fly reel, and fly line is ideal. It works great for casting dries, nymphs, and hoppers out a decent distance. They do work for streamers, but normally a bit heavier of a rod is better. Trout can get quite large in Ontario, and if you are fishing for salmon, bass, steelhead, and other larger fish, you may want to snag a 7-8 weight rod and equipment instead of the standard 5-6 weight.
When it comes to most small to medium sized trout fly fishing, I use a 15-foot 3x leader for dries and a 9-foot 3x leader for nymphs. If you are targeting larger trout or steelhead, I would use a 0x-2x leader and tippet.
When it comes to the fly line, your weight should match your rod and reel. I always use floating line when river fishing as it works like a charm. It doesn’t get down in the super deep holes to target walleye, but it works good for trout.
Where are the trout in the river?
Learning where to spend your time casting is half the battle when it comes to fly fishing. Reading the river is very important as trout like to hang out in specific areas far more than other spots.
Trout like back eddies, water seams, deep pockets, and near or under boulders and fallen trees.
Your fly presentation will be everything when fishing for trout. Make sure you are mending your line accordingly and if you are streamer fishing, retrieve your line in 6–8-inch increments.
What are the best rivers for fly fishing in Ontario?
Like everywhere, there are many great rivers for fly fishing, but there are always a few that stand out above the rest.
This river is famous for the migrating steelhead and rainbow trout. The river flows through the amazing Ganaraska Forest and flows into Lake Ontario at Port Hope.
Locals call it “Notty” and this river produces trout like none other. There is a large number of tributaries along this river that help to keep the trout numbers high. The largest steelhead recorded in this river was 29.12 pounds.
The Credit River
If you are in southern Ontario, check out this great trout river. It is very popular as its near Toronto. Steelhead are most common, but anglers also go here for the salmon runs.
What fish species are in Ontario rivers?
When it comes to trout, rainbows, browns, brook, and steelhead are the most common. Pike, walleye, suckers, salmon, catfish, sturgeon, goldeye, and smallmouth bass can all be found in Ontario rivers as well.
In the heat of the summer, you may want to target smallmouth bass.
What is the best time of the year for fly fishing in Ontario?
Ontario gets cold in the winter, normally October to April is quite brisk, but there are the die hard anglers that might find some open water, that is if the fishing season is extended.
Most rivers are open from the end of April to the end of September. Trout normally prefer the colder waters, so with the heat of the summer, most anglers head upstream to target those beauties. If it is too hot out, you may have better luck on the smaller creeks as they tend to stay colder.
The spring is usually prime time for trout fishing in the rivers, especially if you are wanting to target the steelhead.
Early to mid September is the best if you decide to try your luck at catching some big salmon on the fly rod. This is because the large runs are on this time of year.
Fly fishing is an amazing experience, landing a sweet trout and being out on the water are both great ways to spend the day. Ontario will be sure to impress due to the large size of the trout found in their waters. There are plenty of guide services if you would like to reach out to them, I always suggest this if you aren’t from the area. Good luck out there!
If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.