Canada

When it seems like every inch of the planet has been discovered, and that no genuine adventure remains, look north to Canada and you’ll find a rugged, wild and still unexplored landscape offering fly-fishing discoveries in spades.

Canada’s unspoiled rivers, lakes and streams account for more than 20 percent of the world’s freshwater and present endless opportunities no matter where you cast a fly. Whether targeting wild salmon and steelhead charging in from the Pacific Ocean; smashing giant lake trout, char, and grayling in the far north; tempting the fabled Atlantic salmon and brook trout in the east; casting delicate dry flies to native cutthroats in the Rocky Mountains; or targeting oversized muskie, northern pike and walleye on the plains, you’ll be surrounded by incredible natural beauty, plenty of wildlife, and some of the most accommodating people on the planet. Here’s a quick look at Canada’s five distinct regions and all they offer.

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Canadian Rockies

You can almost step back in time when visiting the Canadian Rockies, where native cutthroat, bull and rainbow trout devour dry flies, nymphs and streamers under some of the most spectacularly rugged mountains in the world.

This is wild country with fish-filled rivers that remind U.S. anglers of simpler times—meaning Montana’s glory days, before boat-launch lines, crowded fly shops, and an army of trout bums came on the scene. But here, in the Canadian Rockies, untouched rivers offer big, wild fish and prolific hatches to match . . . in a landscape where you can still find room to roam. Maybe that’s why Montana’s fishing guides usually head north on their days off.

From the mountain peaks at Banff and Jasper, to the foothills and wheat fields in southern Alberta, this region offers something for everyone. In the south, big brown trout and rainbows stalk the Bow River and other waters. The Fernie area offers what may be the planet’s best dry-fly fishing for native cutthroat trout, along with a prolific bull trout fishery that boots out 10-pounders with regularity. You can catch big bull trout on the Kootenay and Columbia rivers, too, and you can listen to some sweet “reel music” as you enjoy nonstop action on the stillwaters around Golden and Kamloops, where a unique strain of rainbows put you into your backing in seconds. For the serious trophy trout hunter the Cariboo region hosts numerous lakes that put out rainbow trout in the 20-to 30-inch range, fish that slurp down dries during summer and crush nymphs and streamers during spring and fall.

To experience the best of the Canadian Rockies, we offer day trips, heli-camps, jet boat adventures, and traditional extended stays at well-established and elegantly rugged Canadian fishing lodges.

Coastal BC

British Columbia’s west coast contains a massive set of mountains that span the province for hundreds of miles, from Vancouver in the south to Prince Rupert in the north. Dozens of famous steelhead and salmon rivers drain from these mountains and wind their way through a coastal rainforest—including the remote Great Bear rainforest (home to the reclusive white-colored black bear)—before merging with saltwater. These are what’s left of British Columbia’s world-class salmon and steelhead rivers and anglers who fish here are immersed in breathtaking natural beauty and a rugged landscape.

A list of top-tier salmon and steelhead streams includes the Dean, Kitimat, Skeena, Kalum, Bulkley, Sustet, Kispiox, Babine, and Copper among others. On any of these rivers anglers swinging flies off spey rods might hook into a fish of a lifetime. Chinook salmon can reach 90 pounds on the Skeena system with the average fish ranging between 15 and 30 pounds. Steelhead grow to massive size on these rivers, too: eight-to 15-pound fish are average; 20-to 30-pound fish (and some larger) are landed and released each season. Because runs of steelhead and five species of Pacific salmon are staggered throughout the year, it’s always primetime somewhere in coastal British Columbia.

Those steelhead and salmon are the big draw, but the region’s sea-run cutthroat and dolly varden char shouldn’t be overlooked. The cutthroats range between 10 and 22 inches and are some of the hardest fighting fish an angler could encounter. Dolly varden run slightly larger and follow the salmon upriver, chomping down on eggs and salmon flesh. When anglers find dollies, they usually find a lot of them and 20-fish afternoons are not uncommon.

Coastal British Columbia is truly an angling paradise. GFFI works with a variety of lodges and offers access to these streams via jetboat, helicopters, and traditional lodge operations located right on the banks of these great waters.

Featured Coastal BC Lodges

We currently have no featured lodges at this destination. If you are interested in fishing this region, please give us a shout and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Eastern Canada

Anglers have journeyed to Canada’s east coast since the early 1900s, each in search of the legendary Atlantic salmon. Fly fishing in Canada began in the Maritimes and anglers are still making the pilgrimage today, testing their skills on historic waters, such as the Miramichi, Bonaventure, Grand Cascapedia and Restigouche. And they are finding new waters farther north in the wilds of Labrador and Ungava.

Eastern Canada is divided into two main sections—Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec, and the Maritimes, which include New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Each year Atlantic salmon push into these rivers beginning in April and May and they can be present well into September before returning to sea. An average Atlantic salmon weighs between six and 14 pounds, but truly gigantic fish of 40-to 50 pounds are still possible. These salmon eat swung flies, such as the Silver Rat and Red Francis, and traditional dries including a variety of Bombers.

Atlantic salmon aren’t the only game in town. In fact, eastern Canada offers incredible fishing for arctic char, brook trout and, more recently, striped bass. Arctic char are tough fighters and northern Quebec’s and Labrador’s brook trout get as big as any in the world. In a perfect world, the chance to catch a 10-pound brook trout on a dry fly is not something you want to miss, and eastern Canada’s northern tier is just the place to do that.

With such an extensive fishing history, and with such outstanding options to be had—whether targeting big Atlantics, char or brook trout—river access and fishing rights are fiercely guarded. We know the ins-and-outs of the permitting process and work with some of the most respected lodges in the area. Let us know when we can make your eastern Canada adventure come to life.

Far North

Northern Canada is one of fly-fishing’s last true frontiers and is known for countless remote rivers and lakes . . . and an abundance of giant fish that have never seen a fly. These fish live in frigid water and grow very slowly. But there’s a silver lining—they are also very long-lived and achieve greater lengths and weights than their brethren living in warmer climes.

Home to the world-record lake trout, arctic char and grayling, far northern Canada offers endless opportunity for anglers who want a true adventure in a wilderness setting. Arctic char and grayling are found in far northern streams and can be so plentiful that 50-to100-fish days may be seem routine. Inconnu, also known as “sheefish” or “tarpon of the north,” are found in the Yukon’s most remote river systems and are hard fighting and high jumping, an explosive fish that makes a great addition to anyones’ species list.

Lakes in the far north contain the world’s largest lake trout. These massive fish are keen to streamers and are targeted as they patrol relatively shallow flats and creek-mouths during spring. They can also be taken during fall when they congregate around mid-lake shoals and humps. Don’t run your fly through the water here if you aren’t committed to reeling in a fish that might weigh 50 or 60 pounds.

Northern pike are ubiquitous in the north and are targeted in the Yukon with high success. These fish get active after ice-out in the spring and crush streamers and surface flies in shallow, weedy areas and over warm mudflats. These toothy predators are also known as “water wolves” for good reason—any fish, bird, frog or rodent is a potential meal. Fly-fishers get exciting surface eats on a variety of flies, including poppers and mice imitations, from fish that swim around with what can only be called bad intentions.

If you’re looking for an action-packed fly-fishing experience, Nunavut’s arctic char fishing is the right choice—these fish are found in big numbers, grow to large size, and are super hard-fighters. During prime time, hooking several big char per hour is a common occurrence. Landing these brutes, however, isn’t so easy. Bring a stout rod, some heavy tippet, and a big bottle of Advil.

Accommodations in the sparsely populated far north range from five-star ratings to rough and rugged tent camps. Weather here ranges from delightful to devastating, but a well prepared—and properly dressed—angler can stave off the chill and enjoy the finest fishing of their lives.

Featured Far North Lodges

We currently have no featured lodges at this destination. If you are interested in fishing this region, please give us a shout and we will be happy to discuss your options.

The Interior

Canada’s interior offers a serene wilderness and is mostly unknown to outsiders, despite being dotted with thousands of productive lakes and untapped fisheries. The northern portions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba offer some of the best northern pike fishing in the world with numerous locales producing brutes to 50 inches or more. And because these are remote, sparsely populated regions, anglers chase these northerns—and big lake trout—in true wilderness solitude. These waters offer a longer fishing season than subarctic lakes, which translates into longer periods of time—especially during spring—when big northerns can be targeted in shallow water with surface flies.

Farther east in northern Ontario lie the Sutton and Albany watersheds. These waters drain into Hudson Bay and offer, arguably, some of the world’s best brook trout fishing. Brookies here may average four or five pounds and on the best days anglers could land a couple dozen or more fish. The Sutton offers a hundred miles of navigable water, making it a true wilderness experience with the chance to catch the biggest brook trout of your life . . . repeatedly.

Southern Manitoba and Ontario, in area that’s called the Canadian Shield, offer fantastic musky and bass fisheries. The best smallmouth action occurs during spring while pre-spawn fish are schooled up on the flats. Summer offers the best largemouth bass fishing, when stripping topwater frogs and poppers over the lilypads proves to be a deadly technique. Musky also are abundant, but these ultimate warmwater predators are a serious challenge. Musky are called “the fish of 10,000 casts” for good reason, but some southern Ontario rivers are loaded with smallish 35-to 45-inch fish, giving fly fishers a decent chance of hooking and landing one or more per day. Trophy hunters who don’t mind putting in their time can chase monsters on Lake of The Woods and the St. Lawrence River. These massive 50-plus inch long and super aggressive fish can make the most hardcore musky angler get a case of the shakes!

In far southern Ontario, the Great Lakes offer a unique “steelhead” fishery that is best described as a run of oversized rainbow trout. These fish behave similarly to their West Coast cousins and are often targeted with spey rods and swung flies. However, these Ontario steelhead waters are mostly smaller than those found in the Pacific Northwest so most anglers fish single-hand rods and egg patterns. Salmon, lake trout, and large brook trout are also caught as anglers target the steelhead spawning run.

Canada’s interior offers a range of accommodations, from remote fly-in fish camps and cabins, to five-star luxury lodges. Let us know your preference and we’ll get you there.

Get in touch today to start planning your next fly fishing adventure!

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