Ontario Fish Species

Everything an angler needs to know
about Ontario gamefish...



Types of Ontario fish species:

There is a huge variety of Ontario gamefish inhabiting the various bodies of water throughout the province but as far as fishing as a sport is concerned the species of interest can be broken down into 3 classifications: warm water, cold water and cool water species.


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Warm water Ontario fish species - These species prefer water at 25 Celsius + ( 77 Fahrenheit)

bluegill Bluegill - Full size: 15-22.5 cm (6-9 in), .2 kg (.4 lbs), the Ontario record is .8 kg (1.8 lbs). Found mainly in Southern Ontario in warmer lakes, ponds and slow moving streams. Member of the sunfish family. Bait – worms, flies, corn, spinners, small crankbaits and cheese. Are attracted to vibrant colors like orange, red, yellow. Bluegill so bold towards humans some in Lake Scugog may even allow you to stroke them. Very tasty to eat.
 
bowfin Bowfin - Full size: 46-61 cm (18-24 in), 1.36 - 3.2 kg (3 - 7 lbs), the Ontario record 6.86 kg (15.1 lbs). Found primarily in Southern Ontario in swampy vegetated bays in slow moving warm rivers and lakes. Give a great fight but be careful taking off hook as they will bite. Use live or cut fish as bait. Mainly considered a trash fish as while edible are not generally considered a delicacy.
 
brown-bullhead Brown Bullhead - Full size: 20-36 cm (8-14 in), .5 - 1 kg (1 - 2 lbs), the Ontario record 2.37 lbs. This Ontario fish species is found in warm slow moving waters in Southern Ontario generally south of Hwys 11 & 17. A type of catfish can be caught with worms or corn and are generally not consumed.
 
carp Carp - Full size: 30-75 cm (12-30 in), .2-3.5 kg (.5-7 lbs), the Ontario record 17.4 kg (38.5 lbs). These fish live in the Lower Great lakes and their watershed. While generally considered a trash fish as opposed to other species of carp that are actually farmed for food throughout he world they can grow quite huge and do put up a fight when hooked. Use maize, corn or bread.
 
channel catfish Channel Catfish - Full size: 36-53 cm (14-21 in), .9-1.8 kg (2-4 lbs), the Ontario record 13.2 kg (38.5 lbs). Occur in all lower Great Lakes and large rivers of Southern Ontario and it is North America’s most numerous catfish. Caught using minnows, frogs, worms, cricketscor stinkbait. Are sought after as a food delicacy.
 
goldeye Goldeye - Full size: 25-38 cm (10-15 in), about .5 kg (1 lb), the Ontario record 1.19 lbs. Found in parts of northeastern Ontario in swift, silty waters. Has a conspicuis golden iris in the eyes. Use minnows, frogs, insects and mice. More popular with fly fishing than anglers. Hot smoked it is a sought after delicacy.
 
largemouth bass Largemouth Bass -Full size: 25-55 cm (10-22 in), .68 – 1.8 kg (1.5 – 4 lbs), the Ontario record 4.7 kg (10.4 lbs). Found in Lower Great Lakes of Southern Ontario in varied habitat from shallow muddy ponds to clear rocky lakes. Catch using worms, spinners, crankbaits, minnows. Great fight, so so eating.
 
pumpkinseed Pumpkinseed - Full size: 18-23 cm (7-9 in), .2 kg (.4 lbs), the Ontario record .5 kg (1.0 lb). Found in warm lakes and slow moving streams throughout Southern Ontario as far north as Temagami. Part of the sunfish family. Caught using worms, insects, fish bits. Very tasty to eat.
 
smallmouth bass Smallmouth Bass - Full size: 25-50 cm (10-20 in), .45-1.58 kg (1.5-4 lbs), the Ontario record 4.5 kg (9.8 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found in lakes and rivers that are clear and rocky, have spread to Northwestern Ontario northward beyond Lake Nipissing. Considered best fighting fish lb for lb and are great eating. Use a variety of baits and fly fishing lures.
 
white bass White Bass - Full size: 20-30 cm (8-12 in), 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs), the Ontario record 2.87 lbs. This Ontario fish species is found in clear water near sand bars and rock reefs in lower Great Lakes especially Lake Erie. Use live minnows, worms, colored lures. Are very good to eat.
 
white perch White Perch - Full size: 15-25 cm (6-10 in), up to 2.3 kg (4.8 lbs). This Ontario fish species is only found in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and adjoining bodies of water the Niagara River and the Welland Canal. Caught using worms, fish bits, minnows, small hooks. Very tasty fish.


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Cool water Ontario fish species - These Ontario fish species prefer water at 18 - 25 Celsius ( 64 - 77 Fahrenheit)

black crappie Black Crappie - Full size: 18-25 cm (7-10 in), .23-.45 kg (.5-1.0 lbs), the Ontario record is 1.7 kg (3.8 lbs). Found in clear vegetated areas with little current around the Great lakes watershed. Member of the sunfish family. Caught by using minnows, jigs or bobbers. Excellent eating
 
freshwater drum Freshwater Drum - Full size: 45-50 cm (18-20 in), the Ontario record is 9.4 kg (20.6 lbs). Found mostly in lower Great Lakes in shallow water bodies with mud or sandy bottoms. Aka sheepshead. Usually caught at night. Edible but foul smelling.
 
mooneye Mooneye - Full size: 25-30 cm (10-12 in), the Ontario record is .7 kg (1.43 lbs). \This Ontario fish species is found thoughout the province in clear rivers and shallow lakes. Aka toothed herring. Not tasty.
 
muskie Muskellunge (Muskie) - Full size: 71-137 cm (28-40 in), 3.7-10.7 kg (8-23 lbs), the Ontario record is 29.5 kg (65 lbs., Most of worlds muskellunge are found in the waters of Ontario from St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes basin to Lake Nipissing and west to Lake of the Woods. Caught with smaller lures with less hooks. Not the greatest tasting fish but well sought after by anglers who usually catch and release as it is a slow re-producer.
 
northern pike Northern Pike - Full size: 45-75 cm (18-30 in), .9-4.3 kg (2-9.5 lbs), the Ontario record is 19.1 kg (42.1 lbs). Found throughout Ontario the fish are extreme predators. Caught with lures, stinkbait and trolling. Meat is a delicacy in Europe
 
rock bass Rock Bass - Full size: 15-20 cm (6-8 in), .2 kg (.4 lbs), the Ontario record is 1.4 kg (3 lbs) Found throughout southern and central Ontario and the Great Lakes and some portions of northwestern Ontario. Not bad to eat but it's so small there's not much meat to make it worth the effort. A member of the sunfish family, Worms are the best bait.
 
sauger Sauger -Full size: 25-55 cm (10-22 in), .68 – 1.8 kg (1.5 – 4 lbs), the Ontario record is 4.7 kg (10.4 lbs). Found in Lower Great Lakes of Southern Ontario in varied habitat from shallow muddy ponds to clear rocky lakes. Catch using worms, spinners, crankbaits, minnows. Great fight, so so eating.
 
walleye Walleye - Full size: 35.5-58.4 cm (14-23 in), .68-1.36 kg (1.5-3 lbs), the Ontario record is 10.1 kg (22.3 lbs). Found throughout Ontario. Aka pickerel. Easier caught at night. Use minnows or lures. Prefer turbulent waters. Very tasty.
 
white crappie White Crappie - Full size: 20-30 cm (8-12 in), the Ontario record is 1.1 kg (2.71 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found in tributary streams or weedy, sheltered bays in the Lower Great Lakes area. See black crappie for more information.
 
white sucker White Sucker - Full size: 30-50 cm (12-20 in), the Ontario record is 2.4 kg (5.39 lbs). Found throughout Ontario. This bottom feeder is not sought after for food but when caught and marketed for humans called it is called mullet. Caught using worms, grubs or insects.
 
yellow perch Yellow Perch - Full size: 15-30 cm (6-12 in), .34 kg (.75 lbs), the Ontario record is 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found throughout the province. Caught using small lures, minnows or insect larva. Great eating.



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Cold water Ontario fish species - These Ontario fish species prefer water at 10 - 18 Celsius ( 50 - 64 Fahrenheit)

atlantic salmon Atlantic Salmon - Full size: 25 – 70 cm (10 - 28 in), 24 lb 3 oz is the Ontario record. Found mainly in Lake Ontario and Trout Lake near North Bay. Very rare and very good eating. Re-stocking program began in 2006. 3 stages to catch salmon: lake stage - lures or rolling, downriggers. River mouth stage - rattle baits but usually spawn (fish eggs). River stage - most salmon are almost dead (except Atlantic) will hit on spinners or rapalas.
 
aurora trout Aurora Trout - Full size: 30 – 40 cm (12-16 in), 6.64 lbs is the Ontario record. Found in 9 small cold lakes in Northeastern Ontario: Borealis, Wynn, Big Club, Carol, Lake # 57, Liberty, Pallet, Nayowin, Lake #21 and Tyrell. Please note that not all are open. The Aurora Trout season is very short. Caught using spoons, spinners, minnow bait, gang trolls and jigs. Originally found in only 2 lakes near Temagami, they all but disappeared but have since been restocked. Variant of the brook trout species. Good eating.
 
brook trout Brook Trout (Speckled trout) - Full size: 15 – 40 cm (6 – 16 in), .45 – 1.36 kilograms (1-3 pounds), the Ontario record is 6.6 kg (14.5 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found throughout the province. Caught using spinners, worms, and insects. Good eating, better than brown or rainbow trout.
 
brown trout Brown Trout (inland) - Full size: 20 - 40 cm (8 - 16 inches), ,45 – 1.36 kg (1-3 lbs), the Ontario Record is 15.6 kg (34.4 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found throughout the province. Caught using spoons, spinners, minnow plugs or flatfish. OK eating
 
brown trout Brown Trout (Great Lakes) - Full size: 35 – 60 cm (14-24 in), .9 – 4.3 kg (2-9.5 lbs), the Ontario record is 15.6 kg (34.4 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found thoughout the Great Lakes.
 
burbot Burbot (Ling) - Full size: up to 38 cm (15 in), the Ontario record is 7.2 kg (15.88 lb). Found throughout Ontario especially Lake Erie. Called the poor mans lobster as meat tastes something like lobster. Member of the cod family. Caught using minnows or jigs.
 
chinook salmon Chinook Salmon -Full size: 30 – 100 cm (12-39 in), 3.1-6.8 kg (7-15 lbs),the Ontario record is 21 kg (46.4 lbs). This Ontario fish species is found throughout Ontario Great Lakes and it is the largest of the salmon family. Great eating.
 
cisco Cisco (Lake Herring) - Full size: 20-30 cm (8-12 in), the Ontario record is 4.33 lbs.Found in cold waters from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. Somehat edible, marketed smoke. Caught with jigs or stinkbait.
 
coho-salmon Coho Salmon - Full size: 30-75 cm (12-30 in), 2.26 – 4.53 kg (5-10 lbs), the Ontario record is 13 kg (28.6 lbs). Found throughout Great Lakes in Ontario. Very good eating.
 
lake sturgeonr Lake Sturgeon - Full size: 90 – 145 cm (3 – 5 ft), 168 lbs is the Ontario record. Found in large rivers and lakes less than 30 feet deep. It is the largest of Ontario native fishes but is getting rare. Practice catch and release as possession of this endangered species is illegal in Ontario. Caught using worms, cheese or stinkbait. Were coveted for their meat and roe(caviar). Still prized by aboriginals that call them the “buffalo of the water”.
 
lake trout Lake Trout - Full size: 30 – 80 cm (12-31 in), .9-4.9 kg (2-10 lbs), the Ontario record is 28.6 kg (63.1 lbs). Found in Great Lakes and deep cold lakes of the Canadian Shield with a depth over 50 feet. Ontario has the largest population of Lake Trout (25% of world), and lake trout lakes on the planet (still only 1% of lakes contain Lake Trout). Trolling and jigging with live minnows. Good eating.
 
lake whitefish Lake Whitefish - Full size: 30-65 cm (12-26 in) .9-1.8 kg (2-4 lbs), the Ontario record is 6.7 kg (14.8 lbs). Found in lakes throughout Ontario. Great eating and roe marketed as golden caviar. Lake Simcoe whitefish is an endangered sub species. Part of the salmon family. Caught using insects, stinkbait and small lures.
 
pink salmon Pink Salmon - Full size: up to 61 cm (24 in)., avg .9-3.2 kg (2-7 lbs), the Ontario record is 5.9 kg (13.06 lb). This Ontario fish species is found in all Ontario Great Lakes. Smallest of the salmon family. Caught using fly fishing spoons. Good eating.
 
rainbow smelt Rainbow Smelt - Full size: 7.5-25 cm (3-10 in). Found mainly in Great Lakes. Good eating. Usually caught during their annual runs with worms, shrimp or small minnow. Great for ice fishing.
 
rainbow trout Rainbow Trout (inland) - Full size: 20-40 cm (8-16in), .45-1.36 kg (1-3 lbs), the Ontario Record is 18.5 kg (40.7 lbs). Found in small streams lakes etc. throughout Ontario except for the far north. Very good eating.
 
rainbow trout Rainbow Trout (Great Lakes) - Full size: (35-60 cm (14-24 in), 2.27-6.8 kg (5-15 lbs), the Ontario record is 18.5 kg (40.7 lbs). Also known as the Steelhead it can be found in the Great Lakes and their watershed and in some inland lakes. A member of the salmon family. Caught by fly fishing using spinners, spoons, crankbaits, minnows or worms. A wellsought after food source..
 
round whitefish Round Whitefish - Full size: 20 -40 cm (8-16 in). Found in Great Lakes and inland deep lakes throughout Ontario except Lake Erie. Considered a good eat.
 
splake Splake (Wendingo) - Full size: 25-46 cm (10-18 in), .45-1.36 kg (1-3 lbs), the Ontario record is 9.4 kg (20.71 lbs). Live in only a few introduced habitats it is a cross between speckled or brook trout and lake trout. Good eating. Caught using spinners, spoons or rice.


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