Ontario Brook Trout
Fishing For Brook Trout In Ontario
Brook Trout is the only native river trout in Ontario and fishing for Brook Trout in Ontario goes back hundreds of years. The Brook trout is often called speckled trout, specs, or brookies. Brook trout are found in almost every river system in Ontario.
Size: Although Ontario’s record brook trout was 14.5lbs from the Nipigon River in Northern Ontario, most brook trout in Southern Ontario rivers average about 5 to 7 inches in size, and a 12 to 14-inch fish is considered a good fish. There are even a few rare reports of fish over 18 inches and up to 7lbs in some rivers of southern Ontario.
Food: Ontario Brook trout will often feed on anything that is alive and near them. Their primary food sources are aquatic insects, beetles, moths, and other bugs, worms, crawfish, leeches, and small fish. Bigger Ontario brook trout will also feed on frogs, mice, and toads.
Identification Of Ontario Brook Trout
Identification – Brook trout can often look different from river to river and throughout the season. Brook trout often become more colorful during spawning periods.
One of the easiest ways to identify a brook trout is by the spots which are often red or orange with a blue halo around them and the vermiculations which look like a worm pattern often most predominant on the upper back.
The bottom of the fins are also outlined with a white stripe and black stripe as seen in the pictures below. Below are 3 pictures of different looking brook trout, to see a bigger picture showing the blue halo’s, vermiculations and fin markings click on the picture.
Ontario Brook Trout Habitat
Ontario brook trout can be found in fast rapids or slow meadow-type rivers. They like current breaks and deeper water sections of the river. As long as the river is cold and clear it can be good for brook trout.
Brook trout also like rivers with lots of rocks and wood to take cover near. The biggest brook trout are often hiding under log jams or in deeper water.
Cold Water For Brook Trout
The best temperatures for brook trout feeding and survival is about 50 to 66°F (10 to 18 °C) but brook trout can survive and be active from 35 to 68 °F (2 to 20 °C).
Do not fish for brook trout when the water temperatures are above 67°F / 19 °C because this can stress the fish out and kill them after a hard fight.
Rivers with lots of up-wellings or springs like in the picture bring in cold water which is great for brook trout because it keeps the river cool all summer and that keeps the fish more active.
Finding out what rivers and creeks have brook trout might be as simple as testing the water temperatures in the middle of the summer and if the water is very cold there’s a very good chance there are brook trout living in there.
When Do Ontario Brook Trout Spawn?
Ontario brook trout spawn in the fall during the months of October and November and they prefer to spawn on sections of the river that have small gravel. The females will dig a nest which is called a Redd and will deposit the eggs when she is ready. SHe can make multiple redds in one season.
Catch And Release
Catch and Release – Who am I to say that it’s very important to release all your fish when the OMNR allows you to legally keep 5 fish in southern Ontario.
But, the keeping 5 fish rules is likely not the only mistake our government has made in my lifetime.
After fishing Ontario rivers and some USA and BC rivers for the last 32 years I’ve seen first hand the importance and the benefits of releasing all fish and the difference it can make in the quality of fishing and the fish populations.
Over the last 5 years, I have obtained permission from friends and landowners to fish on their properties in untouched waters and can honestly say it’s hard to beat that kind of fishing on public waters where anglers harvest fish.
The fishing in these private sections was the best I’ve seen in Ontario with lots of fish including some big fish up to 6 pounds. When I compare these private waters to other sections only a few miles both up and down the same river where anglers are allowed to fish the fishing was poor in comparison.
Even when using underwater cameras I found there were significantly fewer large fish in the pools in the public areas which indicates to me that the larger fish were caught and taken or were hiding deeper in the wood where anglers could not get them.
Either way, the fishing was not good and anglers of that river were not having good experiences when they fished it.
You do have the right to keep your limit but even if you keep 1 and the other hundred guys after you keep just one, it adds up quickly and the fishing reflects this on many of our rivers.
Please practice and promote the release of all resident trout and help make our fishery great for everyone.
Best Brook Trout Rivers in Ontario
There are many brook trout rivers and creeks in Ontario for anglers to explore. There may be even hundreds of streams and creeks for anglers willing to take the time to find new brook trout water.
The Top 10 Brook Trout Rivers are:
- Saugeen River
- Rocky Saugeen River
- Beaver River
- Ganaraska River
- Nottawasaga and tributaries
- Credit River
- Humber River
- Nipigon River
- Winisk River
- Sutton River
How To Find Brook Trout In Ontario
Ontario brook trout often live in the upper parts of most Ontario rivers or in the smaller streams and tributaries where there is plenty of tree cover and lots of cold groundwater. These are the areas where the water stays the coldest all year long. Some rivers may have over a dozen small tributaries cold enough to support brook trout.
Brook trout can also be found in some local ponds and lakes many of which are on private property.
Because there are too many rivers and creeks for us to list here, the best thing to do if you are interested in fishing for brook trout is to look through the list of rivers we talk about on our best trout rivers of Ontario page and start at the uppermost sections where there is public access and go from there.
Brook trout will remain in these rivers throughout their entire lifespan and many of the little creeks that enter these rivers have populations of brook trout in them but the hard part is finding access to fish for them, please respect other peoples property and do no trespass.
One trick for finding out if a stream your exploring has brook trout in it is to use a thermometer during the hottest weeks in the summer months, if the river is very cold still there’s a very good chance there are brook trout in it and if it’s to warm move on and find colder water.
Southern Ontario Brook Trout
Southern Ontario brook trout fishing is excellent and many rivers in the area have brook trout in the headwaters. The best brook trout rivers in southern Ontario include the Saugeen and tributaries, the Nottawasaga River and tributaries, the Credit River, the Humber River, and most of the rivers east of Toronto.
Angler looking for southern Ontario brook trut simple need to find small creeks with cold water. These southern Ontario brook trout creeks are often heavily wooded and hard to fish but with some effort is can be done.
Some of the best southern Ontario brook trout rivers that we know of were found by looking up the conservation authorities that manage these rivers and seeing what their website says.
As an example, the Saugeen Conservation Authority has a Fishing Map on their website that lists over 20 rivers/lakes in their area where brook trout can be found. They also list other species and it’s not uncommon to find other maps and other information on what rivers have brook trout in them.
For more ideas on where to fish for southern Ontario brook trout go to my page on The Best Rivers In Ontario For Trout And Steelhead.
Brook Trout Fishing Near Toronto
The best brook trout fishing near Toronto is in the upper sections of rivers like the Humber River, the Credit River, Duffins Creek, and Silver Creek. These upper sections have clean cold water suitable for brook trout survival.
Anglers that are interested in brook trout fishing near Toronto should consider the main branch of the upper Humber River above Bolton and Palgrave. The Humber River has a good population of brook trout in the headwaters and the many little creeks that enter the upper Humber River.
Cold Creek is a small tributary of the upper Humber River which has brook trout in it and it can be accessed at the Cold Creek Conservation area.
Brook Trout Fishing On The East Humber River
Anglers that want brook trout fishing near Toronto should also consider the east Humber river and its small tributary creeks, You could try near Boyd Conservation area for brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout.
Brook Trout Fishing On The Credit River
Another great spot for brook trout fishing near Toronto is the East Credit River which has good numbers of brook trout near Alton. The best brook trout occurs up river of the Forks Of The Credit Provincial Park to the little town of Melville.
Brook Trout Fishing On the East Credit River
The west Fork of the Credit river at Belfountain Conservation Area is a good spot to try for brook trout. There are good populations of brook trout from her up to the town of Erin.
Brook Trout Fishing On Black Creek And Silver Creek
A tributary of the Credit River called Silver Creek in Georgetown is another nice little brook trout creek. It branches off into Black Creek which is another good creek for fishing for brook trout near Toronto. There are a few parks near the creeks where anglers can access the river for fishing.
Fishing Duffins Creek For Brook Trout
Duffins Creek is just east of Toronto and is a good option for fishing brook trout close to Toronto. Duffins Creek splits into the East Duffins Creek and the West Duffins Creek.
The west Duffins Creek is a closer option for fishing brook trout near Toronto and the best fishing occurs just up river from the town of Whitevale.
There are many brook trout creeks that anglers can try to fish in Southern Ontario. Because brook trout live in the cleanest and coldest parts of the river, it usually limits them to the uppermost parts of most rivers which are where the fishing access is often very difficult because of lots of private property and hard to fish conditions such as overgrown bush, trees, and tall grasses.
In Ontario, it is possible for a landowner to own the actual river bottom and the bank and the smaller the river the more likely the river bottom is private property. If you see “No Trespassing” signs on a small river you may want to look for another location. As of now, I have no way of determining the ownership of the river bottom and the OMNR does not notify or help angles with this on-going problem.
The angler in the picture crouches down to get a good drift under the branches and is rewarded with a few nice trout. It’s amazing where these trout will hide and it’s often these super tough to fish spots where the biggest fish are.
Good access is limited but anglers can try near bridges, park areas, and some conservation areas. These areas might get fished hard and the big fish might get fished out making for often harder fishing. If you’re prepared to walk 10 minutes up or down the river to get away from the main access points you may be rewarded with some good fishing.
ONTARIO TROUT SEASON
Ontario Brook Trout Season and Regulations: The Ontario brook trout season is the same as the regular trout season and in some areas brook trout will be open at different times.
In southern Ontario, trout fishing season is from the 4th Saturday in April to September 30th.
There are exceptions to this, but for the most part, all Ontario brook trout sections are closed after September 30th.
For more information and the full OMNR fishing regulations check out the OMNR website .
Prime Time For Ontario Brook Trout Fishing
The best time to fish for Ontario brook trout is usually from the opening day of trout on the 4th Saturday in April ( in Southern Ontario) or early May and it can stay good throughout the month of June.
There can be some good early morning fishing from July until the end of September depending on the water temperatures.
The guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company fish and guide for brook trout all summer in select rivers where the water stays cold enough.
Septembers cool nights start to make the river temperatures cold again for brook trout and the fishing can start to get good again.
Fishing Methods For Brook Trout
The most common methods of fishing for brook trout in Ontario include Fly Fishing or Spin Fishing using lures or using floats that suspend bait like roe or worms.
Bottom bouncing can be excellent if you use the Advanced bottom bouncing methods that the guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company use.
You can see those methods on my page Bottom Bouncing – 5 Proven Guide Tips For More Fish
Regardless of your methods, everything is scaled-down and smaller than what you might use for brown trout or rainbow trout.
This includes smaller rods and reels that are easier to fish within the tight cover and make playing the smaller trout more challenging, smaller lines are also used since the fish are smaller, and smaller hooks are often better.
Not sure what gear to get, check out my pages on:
- River Fishing Gear: Everything You Need To Succeed In 2021
- Best River Fishing Rods Of 2021: Trout And Steelhead Rods
- How To Fish Flies With Spinning Gear: 2 Best Methods
- Best Hook Size For Trout: A Guides Advice On trout Hook Size
- 4 Best Spinning Reels
- 5 Best Trout Nets And A Guides Advice On How To Attach Them
FLY FISHING FOR ONTARIO BROOK TROUT
Fly Fishing: Ontario brook trout require lighter weight fly rods from 6.5 feet to 8.5 feet in the 2 weight to 4 weight sizes with a suitably matched reel and a floating fly line that is either a weight forward or double taper style.
I personally prefer the Airflow Ridge lines they float high and havegood durability.
Ontario brook trout rivers are small and clear so using smaller rods, reels, leader and flies is a good tactic.
With your tippet size, you will want to go as heavy as possible but not too heavy that they see the line or that it affects the presentation of your fly. I usually stick with a tippet around 4 pounds.
DRY FLY FISHING FOR BROOK TROUT
Dry fly fishing for Ontario brook trout is very effective and a lot of fun. Big puffy flies like the Royal Coachman, Royal Wulff, and the Humpy will often do the job. Beetle patterns can also be great.
Using a dead drift method with no drag is a great idea but in faster water, a skittering action made by dragging and bouncing your fly across the water can be the most effective method.
The dry dropper fly fishing method can be very effective on river where you are allowed to use more than one fly, which is most river in Ontario. If you want to learn how to do all the various dry fly techniques consider a lesson or guided trip with A Perfect Drift Guide Company.
For common dead drift dry fly methods check out our dry fly fishing video.
Some of my favourite and most productive fly patterns include the Elk Hair caddis, the Adams, The Montreal Dark, the Orange Devil, and the Elk Wing Caddis.
OTHER FISHING METHODS FOR ONTARIO BROOK TROUT
The main fly fishing methods for brook trout include dry fly fishing, nymphing, the wet fly swing, and streamer fishing. For more detailed information on each one of these methods go to the Fly Fishing for Trout page.
Spin Fishing for Brook Trout: Spin fishing is still very common with brook trout anglers. Using lures or drifting a bait under a float are the most common methods. For more information on spin fishing for brook trout go to the Spin Fishing page.
Centerpin Fishing: Centerpin fishing for brook trout is something not many anglers are doing but there are a few who do. For more information on Centerpin fishing methods go to the Centerpin Fishing page
NYMPH FISHING FOR BROOK TROUT
Nymphing for Ontario brook trout is very effective and often the biggest brook trout an be caught using modern and traditional nymphing methods.
Indicator nymphing can be a good way to nymph of deeper and slower water but using euro nymping leader will be your best option in shallower and faster rivers.
Check out my nymphing leader and other fly fishing and nymphing methods on my Trout Fishing Page
To learn how to euro nymph, or indicator nymph, consider looking into the Advanced Nymphing class or booking a guide trip from A Perfect Drift Guide Company. They are the experts in nymph fishing in Ontario.
WET FLY FISHING
Wet fly fishing is an older method but it can be very effective on Ontario brook trout. One of my clients caught a 5-pound brook trout and then a 4-pound brook trout on the same day using the wet fly methods.
Brook trout will hit bright and shiny flies and dark flies.
The guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company teach wet fly methods for brook trout. if yo are not sure what wet fly fishing is all about check out this video on the wet fly swing fishing.
Some favorite brook trout wet fly patterns include the: March Brown wet, the Black Gnat, the Leadwing Coachman, the Prince wet fly, and the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear but there are many more patterns that will entice a strike from a hungry brook trout.
STREAMER FISHING FOR BROOK TROUT
Streamer fishing for brook trout is a great way to get the biggest brook trout to bite.
Streamer fishing triggers a stick response and is a good meal for those bigger Ontario Brook trout.
Check out this Streamer Fishing Video. Consider a lesson or check out the advanced streamer fishing classes from A Perfect Drift Guide Company.
Some favorite streamer patterns are the Muddler Minnow, the Clouser Minnow, the Woolly Bugger, or the Mickey Finn.
Fly Casting : Although brook trout are not as cautious and don’t spook as easily as brown trout even beginner casters have a chance at catching brook trout. But if you ever want to learn how to become a better caster which will surely increase your catch rate consider checking out Metcalfe School of Fly Casting
PRIVATE PROPERTY AND TRESPASSING
Private Property and Trespassing: This is a tough one considering there is so much gray area and very little public information on what is and isn’t private property but let me just state a few opinions so you don’t get yourself in trouble. First, my words are not law and I am not an authorization on this matter and you should find out from the proper authorities before you enter any area you are not sure about.
But, here are some things to consider based on my research and experience. It is my understanding that in Ontario:
- A sign is all that is required to notify you an area is private so don’t enter unless you know otherwise.
- A trespassing fine can be up to $2000.00 but is usually less then $200.00 and the dollar amount depends on the discretion of the officer and the severity of the offence.
- A land owner can legally detain you until the police arrive if you are caught trespassing in an area that is posted or noticeably private and they are not required to warn you first if it is posted.
- Notification that the land is private can come in various ways including verbal or written warning from a landowner or authorized person, a sign, a red dot, a maintained fence or maintained lawn, livestock or other signs of the land being farmed or any other indication that the area is being maintained by someone, if you see any of this and you should assume you can’t trespass and look into the area further before doing so.
- You can access forested or seemingly vacant lands or river areas if there is no signs or indication that the land and river are owned or maintained by anyone but you must leave immediately if notified that it is private or you could be charged.
- Not all river bottoms in Ontario are public but most river bottoms especially on larger navigable rivers the bottom or river bed is usually public access and as long as you keep your feet in the water you should be ok.
- Some river bottoms are owned by the land owner and therefore you can not legally walk the river bottom without permission.
- In all but a few cases the water itself is not owned even if the river bottom is owned so boating through should not be an issue as long as you’re not touching bottom, anchoring or tying off to shore.
- The high water mark is a rumour or is false or is no longer valid in Ontario meaning that if you’re standing on dry land of any sort and you are not standing in the water and the land is owned by someone you are trespassing and could be charged.
Please respect the rights of all land owners and do not trespass for any reason!
Garbage: The number one reason many of our rivers are so heavily posted with NO TRESPASSING signs is because of ignorant anglers that litter. It still surprises me that I even have to bring this up. I’ve talked to many land owners, many who are even anglers themselves and they all tell me their biggest complaint and the reason many of their neighbors along the rivers all have their properties posted “No Trespassing” and wont let anglers in, is because of garbage left by lazy ignorant anglers.
You know the ones, they;re usually the ones complaining that properties they used to fish are now posted because the land owner is a jerk.
I recommend always having a bag in your pocket or vest to carry out your garbage and the garbage from the jerks that are to lazy to clean up after themselves. Cleaning up all the garbage you see may prevent more waters from being closed to you and other anglers.
The sad part about this picture is not only did these jerks leave their garbage at the side of the river but this was in a clearly signed “NO BAIT ALLOWED” section of the Grand River and these are worm containers.
BROOK TROUT RIVER GUIDES
Not all brook trout waters are small and hard to fish. This picture is an angler fishing some very productive water while on a trip with a local Ontario river guide.
Brook Trout Fishing Guides: A Perfect Drift Guide Company offers guided trips by boat or by foot for brook trout. There are about 13 rivers both large and small that they guide brook trout on and some rivers can produce dozens of brook trout per trip.
For more information check out their website at www.aperfectdrift.com.
THE FUTURE OF BROOK TROUT
Brook trout need cold clear water and our environment is getting dirtier and warmer.
This is why we need to come together to help maintain the good brook trout fishing that we already have and it’s not that hard to do.
Catch and release is extremely important and is simple to do. Catch, take a picture and let them go.
Something else we should all do is join a local fishing club the helps protect our Ontario brook trout and the rivers they live in.
Ontario Conservation Groups: Trout Unlimited is one of the major groups that are very pro active protecting the brook trout and the rivers they live in. There are also a few other groups helping to maintain and improve our brook trout rivers. Consider joining one near you to show your support or even volunteer with a group near you to help out. The trout we love need your help.
Trout Unlimited Ontario Chapters – A great way to meet new fishing buddies, learn more about our rivers, find a mentor to teach you more and most importantly to help protect the rivers and the trout in them.
Ontario Streams – Working to protect our rivers.
Credit Valley Conservation – working to protect one of Ontario best brook trout rivers. They also have some good maps that may help you find some more fishing spots.
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority – Working to protect the many rivers and tributaries of the Nottawasaga River system. They also have some good maps that may help you find more fishing spots.
Fly Fishing Clubs: There are also a number of good fly fishing clubs in Ontario and some of these clubs help with conservation projects and help protect our rivers. They are a great source of information and a way to make friends who share the same interests that you do.
Izaak Walton Fly fishing Club – A great group of anglers specializing in teaching the sport of fly fishing and working to maintain good fishing on the credit and nearby rivers. They are located in Mississauga and hold monthly meeting. They are knowledgeable and readily share information with new anglers. They also put on the annual Canadian Fly Fisher Forum so check out their website for more details.
Friends of the Grand – Many thanks to this group for their on-going efforts to make the Grand River trout fishery so good. A great group of guys with vast knowledge of fly fishing the grand river and a great source of information for new anglers. They also host the annual Grand Opportunities fly fishing event. Check their website for more details.
Headwater Fly Fishing Club– This is a group of fly fishing and fly tying enthusiasts who meet monthly in the headwaters area. They’re surrounded by the headwaters of the Nottawasaga, Humber and Credit rivers and are a 15 minutes drive from Orangeville and Bolton. They share their experiences, learn new skills and techniques and participate in environmental activities. They are a great club for anyone wanting to learn more and meet new friends.
Winter Hatches Fly Fishing Club – This friendly group of conservation minded fly anglers hold their meetings in the Toronto area. They welcome all new comers to their meetings and fly tying classes. They are a wealth of information and a great way for new and veteran anglers to meet new friends.
KW Fly Fishers – This club is in the Kitchener Waterloo area it’s members range in experience from complete novices to professional guides. Whatever your level of expertise, they will help you improve your fly fishing and tying skills and are always welcoming new members.
Forest City Fly Fishing Club – A great group of anglers from the London area with tying lessons, guest speakers, and presentations available to their members.
Hamilton Area Fly Fishers – A group of dedicated conservation minded fly fishers promoting and teaching fly fishing to anglers of all ages. Learn cold water and warm water fly fishing techniques during their meetings or attend one of their event outings.
Pine Ridge Fly Fishing Club – The Pineridge Fly Fishing Clubs members have interests in the Kawartha’s and the north shore of Lake Ontario. They have combined the interests of both cold and warm water fly fishing. They are a friendly group and invite all fly anglers to come out and take part in one of their meetings.
Cold Creek Fly Fishers – Cold Creek Fly Fishers club is a long standing organization which has been looking after one of Ontario’s best trout fisheries since 1976. They are a group of river keepers as well as fly fishing and fly tying enthusiasts. Cold Creek Fly Fishers members have private stream access thanks to their stream monitoring and conservation efforts on the river. They have regular meetings and would be a benefit to fly anglers of the area.
Glenn Haffy Fly fishing Club: Located in the headwaters area between Orangeville and Bolton. These are private stocked ponds with resident brook trout and stocked rainbow trout.