Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing in Southern Ontario!

Binoculars on top of a map

With so many bodies of water in Southern Ontario, it can be challenging to find the right place to start. So it’s a safe bet to say that Southern Ontario offers many great fly fishing spots.

Exploring new streams will leave any fly angler with a sense of gratitude as most offer an abundance of bass, trout, pike, and walleye.

We’re going to list off a few of the ‘hottest’ Fly Fishing spots in Southern Ontario based off affordability and accessibility.

To dive deeper into these two criterias: we will be judging affordability strictly based on the price of renting an Airbnb, while accessibility will look at both the accessibility of the Airbnb’s as well the accessibility of the types of fish.

If you’re looking to travel even further for fly fishing, then we’ve got you covered as well.

Ontario Fishing Regulations

Just to be clear, you do need a Fishing License and Outdoors Card.  Bright side about getting these is that you can use them anywhere in Ontario.

There are a few cases where a Fishing License and Outdoors Card are NOT required:

  • If you’re younger than 18 years of age
  • If you’re older than 64 years of age

Also, Ontario offers free fishing four times a year to Canadian Residents (no fishing license required). These times are:

  • February 16-18 (Family Fishing Weekend)
  • May 11-12 (Mother’s Day Weekend)
  • June 15-16 (Father’s Day Weekend)
  • June 29- July 7 (Family Fishing Week)

If you don’t fall under the above two cases listed or you want to fish year round rather than four times then you have to get your Fishing License and Outdoors Card. Here are the prices:

Sport Fishing License – 3 Years $90.07
Conservation Fishing License – 3 years $51.09
Sport Fishing  License – 1 year $30.02
Conservation Fishing License – 1 year $17.03
1- Day Only Sport Fishing License (Starts at Midnight and goes until 11:59pm – No Outdoors Card Required) $13.80

Your Outdoors Card will also cost $9.68. These prices are all in CAD and already include HST – so no hidden fees.

How much does it cost a Fishing License?

If you buy the 3-Year Sport Fishing License with your outdoors card it will cost you approximately $99.75. 3 years of fly fishing for under $100 is more than reasonable.

But this gets better as a 3-Year Conservation Fishing License with an outdoors card will cost you approximately $60.77.

Hopefully you’ve already noticed but unlike other bundle packs, this bundle pack doesn’t get cheaper if you buy more.

How much does it cost to renew a Fishing License?

The prices to renew and purchase a new Fishing License in Ontario are the exact same.

Where can I buy a Fishing License?

You can buy a Fishing License and Outdoors card in a number of places. Your local angling store will definitely have them.

Also stores like Walmart and Canadian Tire will have them.

There are other options such as buying it through the government website (ontario.ca).

If you want to call them, you can call them at 1-800-288-1155 to renew your Outdoors card and 3-year licenses. Yes this number is available 24/7.

Fly Fishing in Goderich, Ontario

If you’ve never fished in the Maitland River in Goderich, then you’re missing out.

The Maitland River is well known by many for its fall Steelhead and Rainbow trout fishing. With the bonus bass fishing during the warmer months of summer.

With 150 kilometers of flowing waters, the Maitland River has many different spots ready to be fished. It also has many islands for fly anglers that are easily accessible by walking in knee-deep water.

Some of these islands are more hidden and not accessed as much; the perfect place for undisturbed fish. Just don’t forget to bring your waders!

Main Species: Trout and Bass

Why Goderich: Goderich offers long and wide streams of fishing. With optimal catches of Steelhead and Rainbow trouts. Many of these waters yield these fish in regular sizes of 10 to 14 inches.

Cost: Staying at most Airbnb’s in Goderich is fairly cheap. The prices for these places can be as low as $44, with the average cost being around the $110 mark per night.  

Fly fishing kits offer versatility and accurate casts for both trout and bass fishing.

Fly Fishing in Niagara, Ontario

The Niagara River is approximately 58 kms long. The river flows North from Lake Erie towards Lake Ontario.

Niagara River has fishable waters for both sides of the border. It’s also very common for many fly anglers casting from their boats. With so much water, fly fishing from a boat offers the advantage of covering more water.

The past twenty years, the Niagara River has built a great reputation for its Steelhead, Lake Trout, and Brown trout fishing. However, it’s reputation on summer Bass fishing has also been increasing.

Despite its massive size, you will often see anglers casting or reeling a fish in.

The types of fish will always determine the size of your fly rod. Fly anglers looking to fish these waters in the Fall should equip a 9ft 7wt fly rod.

For the fly anglers looking to fish these waters in the warming months should be equipped with a 9ft 5wt fly rod.

Niagara River Fishing Spot: The river’s edge, also better known as the Whirlpool offers great fishing for fly anglers. You’ll know you’re at the right spot when you have a steep set of stairs to climb down to reach the water.

Main Species: Steelhead, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass

Why Niagara River: The Niagara River is a popular destination for most anglers, however its length will give you more than enough personal casting space. There are many types of species to catch.

You’ll have no struggle catching different species of Trout and Salmon during the Fall season.

If you’re the type to prefer warm weather fishing, then the Niagara River is also a destination for you. Bass, Pikes, and Carps are all plenty in numbers and in size. Perfect combination for any fly angler to get that adrenaline rush from a bent fly rod.

Cost: It’s one of the top touristic spots in Canada which makes much more costly for Airbnb’s. There’s some places that start at $120 and can go up to a few hundred. If you’re travelling in a group then this price isn’t too hefty.

A friendly reminder that if you’re planning on travelling here during holidays, i.e early July, prepare for most Airbnb’s to be fully booked or the cost to go up.

Fly Fishing in Collingwood, Ontario

Collingwood is known to most as the gateway to the Blue Mountains, one of the better Ski Ski Resorts in Southern Ontario. However, fly anglers know that Collingwood is an optimal place for fly fishing.

Its harbour is in the southern part of the Georgian Bay, which offers fish heavy in numbers and in size.

Collingwood is situated right in the middle of many fishing spots. This is ideal for any fly angler as options mean more fly fishing.

Thornbury is one of these places and it’s about a 15 minute drive from Collingwood. The Thornbury Dam, also known as the Fish Ladder is one of the few places where you can see fish heading upstream to spawn.  

During different times of the year, you will see different species of fish. In April, you will tend to see Rainbow Trouts heading upstream, while from August to October you will mainly see Chinook Salmon.

The Thornbury Dam and Thornbury Harbour are connected by the Beaver River.

If you follow this river south (can walk it or drive), you will quickly reach the Thornbury Harbour. The Thornbury Harbour has great sized Steelheads, Rainbows, Browns and Chinooks.

This is the exact reason why sometimes finding a spot in this area is hard to find unless you show up early or after 11:00 am. I’ve found that the earlier you go, the less people there will be. Also most anglers tend to head for lunch towards noon giving you more options at finding the right spot.

From this harbour all the way to the Fish Ladder, you will see lines of people casting in sync with one another. Despite the great number of anglers, there is still enough fish to catch for all.

The second spot worth recommending near Collingwood is Meaford, Ontario. It’s roughly about 20 minute drive.

The Bighead River flows from the Niagara Escarpment through Ontario Highway 10 of Arnott and Holland Centre and is dumped into Nottawasaga Bay, at Meaford.

Many fly anglers from near and far are known to fish the Bighead River for its Steelhead and Salmon fishery. The river is surrounded by heavy forestry so in some cases it makes it difficult to find a casting spot.

Fishing during the weekends should normally be avoided as fishing pressure increases due to the River’s popularity. Another note to be familiar with is that some areas are restricted due to private land, so please keep an eye out.

Heavy number of fish come in the river right after heavy rainfall. If you can visit the river during this time you will be sure to catch multiple fish.

Our fly rod recommendation for these waters is a 7wt rod due to small to medium sized catches, and the casting room limitations.

It also helps bringing your waders as its faster wading upstream rather than going to your vehicle and driving.

Collingwood fishing: The Beaver River, Thornbury Harbour, and the Bighead River are three great places to fish while you’re in Collingwood Ontario.

Main Species: Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Chinook, Brown Trout

Why Collingwood: Collingwood is center for many great fishing destinations, all of which are under 30 minutes drive. The above two are the closest and are both known for their trout and salmon fishery.

Collingwood also has many bait stores if you ever need any more guidance, and/or equipment. There’s also a Wal-Mart and a Canadian Store incase you forgot to buy a fishing license ahead of time.

Cost: The normal cost of renting a hotel per night in this area is roughly $180. However, most Airbnb’s cut this cost by 3 folds and are as cheap as $70.

Of course, these prices and vacancies vary. During the peak winter months, most places will be rented out for skiers looking to shred Blue Mountain snow.

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