Trout Fishing In Ontario: 5 Things You Should Know

Trout Fishing In Ontario

Learn About Trout Fishing In Ontario From A Top River Fishing Guide

As Ontario’s top river guide for over 10 years, I have taught thousands of anglers about trout fishing in Ontario. Anglers interested in trout fishing in Ontario can fish with spinning reels, centerpin reels, or fly reels and this website will help you improve your skills with each method and help you catch more trout.

Trout fishing in Ontario can be great because Southern Ontario is home to hundreds of rivers with trout in them. Anglers interested in trout fishing in Ontario can fish for trout 12 months of the year. These are 5 things you should know about trout fishing in Ontario from an expert river guide.

There are 3 species of river trout in Ontario that anglers can fish for but, Ontario also has types of trout. One type of trout is what we call resident trout, and the other type of trout is what we call migratory trout.

Resident Trout

Ontario's best trout guide
Ontario’s best trout guide

If you are going to start trout fishing in Ontario you should know the difference between a resident trout and a migratory trout.

A resident trout can easily be described as a trout that is born in the river and lives its entire life within that river system and never leaves or migrates out of that river system.

Most brook trout and brown trout and some rainbow trout fall into this category in Southern Ontario. There is the exception in some small lakes and ponds that have resident trout in southern Ontario. These trout don’t ever see a river or stream and in many cases, these fish have been stocked there.

The farther north you go the more lakes and ponds will hold wild populations of brook trout. Some are even very large and over 5 pounds.

Most resident trout fishing in Ontario occurs during the trout open season which starts in Southern Ontario on the 4th Saturday in April and is closed on October 1st.

There are a few rivers that stay open longer or all-year-round that may have resident trout in them. There are also some rivers that DO NOT open on the 4th Saturday in April so make sure you check the Ontario Fishing Regulations before you go fish.

Below is a resident brook trout, a resident brown trout and a resident rainbow trout.

Ontario Brook Trout
Ontario Brook Trout
Ontario Brown Trout
Ontario Brown Trout
Ontario Rainbow Trout
Ontario Rainbow Trout

Migratory Trout

A nice fall steelhead
A nice fall steelhead

Although this section is about resident trout some anglers may not understand what a migratory trout means so this is a short explanation to help those new to Ontario fishing understand the difference.

The other reason I mention this is because the Ministry Of Natural Resources lists steelhead as a rainbow trout in the fishing regulations so to some anglers it is a trout and to others, it is a steelhead.

Migratory rainbow trout are more commonly known as steelhead in Ontario. Ontario also has migratory brown trout which can grow over 30 pounds.

Both steelhead and migratory brown trout are trout that are born in the river and live in the river for the first 1 to 3 years of their lives and then they leave the river they were born in to go to an ocean or in our case, one of the great lakes.

Once they are ready to spawn they will return to the river as a mature adult to reproduce and continue the cycle.

Out in the Great Lakes, there is an abundance of baitfish for these big rainbows and brown trout to feed on so they grow bigger and faster than a resident trout would. The size and numbers of migratory trout are why a lot of anglers like to pursue these big fish.

Trout Fishing In Ontario for migratory rainbow trout.
An angler on a guide trip with A Perfect Drift Guide Company fighting 1 of over 40 big migratory rainbow trout that he hooked that day.

Because Southern Ontario is surrounded by great lakes, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Georgian Bay, there are lots of opportunities for migratory trout.

There are some migratory rainbow trout fishing in Northern Ontario in the many rivers entering Lake Huron and in the St.Marys river.

Three great things about migratory rainbow trout are:

  • They can get up to 30 pounds with the average size around 5 pounds.
  • They can come up the rivers by the thousands or even tens of thousands.
  • There are many opportunities to fish them in rivers 12 months of the year so anglers can still fish for them from October to late April even after the normal trout season is closed for fishing.

Trout fishing in Ontario can be excellent in the month of May because large migratory trout and resident trout can be caught in the same rivers and even in the same spots. Some steelhead can still be caught in rivers in late May and in September.

If steelhead is something you are interested in it’s important to know how to fish for them. The guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company are the best steelhead guides in Ontario and they offer educational guide trips for steelhead 12 months of the year.

For more information, more tips, and more tactics about migratory rainbow tout and about rainbow trout fishing in Ontario to the Ontario Steelhead Fishing section of this website.

Migratory Brown Trout In Ontario – If you are going to get into trout fishing in Ontario it’s good to know that some rivers that flow into Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Georgian bay will have migratory brown trout which can be caught from September to December.

Migratory brown trout are not as common as the steelhead are and in many cases, migratory brown trout are a rare catch.

Most brown trout will enter the river in the fall, starting in September, then they will spawn and head back to the lake before the river freezes up in December.

However, I have caught plenty of big migratory brown trout in late winter and early spring while fishing for steelhead on some rivers. These spring brown trout are ones that did not return to the lake in the fall but instead preferred to stay in the river and then return to the lake in the spring.

Ontario Brook Trout

Brook Trout Fishing In Ontario
Brook Trout Fishing In Ontario

For many anglers that like trout fishing in Ontario, the brook trout is a favorite trout to catch.

Ontario Brook Trout are also known as speckled trout or are sometimes called specs, species, or brookies.

The brook trout is southern Ontario’s only true native river trout.

Ontario’s only other native trout is the lake trout, and although they occasionally enter some rivers in the fall they are very rare in most Ontario rivers with the exception of the Niagara River and some very large rivers up in northern Ontario.

The reason many anglers like to fish for brook trout is that they are commonly found in good numbers in the upper reaches of most southern Ontario rivers and in the smaller creeks where the water stays cold and clean year-round.

Northern Ontario has many lakes and rivers and small creeks with plenty of brook trout to.

90% of Ontario brook trout will remain in the river throughout their entire lifespan, especially in southern Ontario Rivers. Most of these brook trout will remain way up the rivers in the smaller sections where the river stays very cold thanks to groundwater springs.

Brook trout fishing in Ontario is a great choice if you are a new angler that would like to catch lots of fish. Chances are there is a brook trout stream near you. If you can find very cold clean flowing water you should be able to find a brook trout or two.

In fact, I believe that just about every river in Southern Ontario has brook trout in it somewhere, or that river at least has a tributary to that river that has brook trout in it.

Because Ontario brook trout live in the smaller sections of most rivers, and because they mostly feed on insects, the southern Ontario brook trout average size is about 4 to 7 inches.

Even though a brook trout over 18 inches and over 5 pounds is possible in some southern Ontario brook trout rivers, it’s rare for anglers to get brook trout over 14 inches.

Northern Ontario has many remote rivers and lakes and has opportunities for much bigger brook trout.

For more information, more tips, and more tactics about brook trout and about brook trout fishing in Ontario to the Brook Trout page.

Ontario Brown Trout

Ontario Trout and Steelhead Guide
Ontario Trout and Steelhead guide

Ontario brown trout are not native to Ontario and as I understand it, most of the brown trout in Ontario have been imported from Europe or more specifically, from Germany.

They are the largest of the Ontario resident trout with some reaching sizes of over 30 inches.

The average Ontario brown trout is between 8 and 12 inches on most rivers, but the guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company will guide many lucky anglers to brown trout over 20 inches, and sometimes even as many as 10 brown trout over 20 inches will end up in our guides nets by the end of the day.

There are not many rivers in northern Ontario that have brown trout in them, but many southern Ontario rivers will have brown trout.

Some rivers have small populations of brown trout while other rivers have large populations which are usually thanks in part to private property and thanks to the sections of the special regulations where catch and release is mandatory. Also a big thanks to all the great fishing clubs and conservation authorities that help keep put river healthy and clean.

Practicing catch and release is extremely important if anglers want to see more big brown trout like the one in the picture.

Brown trout are often wary and harder to catch, but because of their size, they are a favorite for many Ontario river anglers.

There are many good rivers and opportunities for Ontario anglers to catch these great trout in southern Ontario and close to Toronto.

For more information, more tips, and more tactics about brown trout and about brown trout fishing in Ontario to the Brown Trout page.

Ontario Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout (resident rainbows) – If you are going trout fishing in Ontario you should know that we have two different types of rainbow trout in Ontario. We have steelhead rainbow trout and we have resident rainbow trout.

A steelhead is considered and rainbow trout by our Ontario Ministry Of Natural Resources and is a rainbow trout that migrates to the ocean or great lake.

A colored steelhead
A colored steelhead
Resident rainbow trout in Ontario
Resident rainbow trout in Ontario

Rainbow trout, also known as resident rainbows do not migrate and stay in the river their whole lives. They are still hard fighting trout and are often very colorful as seen in this picture. There are not many rivers in Ontario that have true resident rainbow trout but there are a few that anglers can try.

Most rainbow trout in most rivers are actually steelhead and at some point, they will eventually leave the river and migrate to the lake. These steelhead rainbows are often incorrectly identified by anglers because it’s almost impossible to tell the difference sometimes.

There are a few exceptions where resident rainbow trout do exist thanks to direct stocking or from rainbow trout that have escaped people’s ponds and have got into the rivers.

Fishing for resident rainbow trout in Ontario usually occurs when most trout fishing in Ontario occurs which is during the normal trout season.

For more information, more tips, and more tactics about rainbow trout and about rainbow trout fishing in Ontario go to the Rainbow Trout page.

Best Methods For Trout Fishing In Ontario

Trout fishing in Ontario can be done with spinning reels and rods, centerpin reels and rods, and with fly reels and rods.

Each species can be unique in the way that they feed, when they feed, where they feed and what they feed on, which is why I have a page on each species where you will find more detailed fishing methods. 

The most common methods for trout fishing are:

  • Spin Fishing – Casting Lures
  • Spin Fishing – Using floats and baits
  • Centerpin Fishing – Also known as float fishing
  • Fly Fishing using multiple methods like dry fly fishing, nymph fishing, streamer fishing, and wet fly fishing.

Thanks for taking the time to read through our page on trout fishing in Ontario.


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