DIY Fly Fishing in Algoma

Trip planning tips and types of fish species.

There is a region in Northern Ontario, called Algoma Country. It’s fast becoming well-known to fly anglers who are looking for adventure in pristine environments for big, unpressured fish! Drive to lodges, fly-in lodges, both American plan and Housekeeping are all around the region. They satisfy every angler's need and desire and cover the gamut for price points. Lavish resorts or rustic serenity in Algoma Country, there is something for every budget. But what if you want to get off the beaten path and Do-it-Yourself? Algoma has that too!

female anger bushplane
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

Planning a DIY Angling Adventure

Do-It-Yourself is a unique way to fish in Algoma Country. Often remote, anglers on a DIY adventure will often have the entire lake or water body to themselves. Drive-to, train-in or fly-in DIY opportunities are found throughout Algoma Country. What separates DIY from every other form of fishing adventure is just that – you do everything yourself. From cooking and cleaning to guiding and staying warm, DIY adventures often find anglers in extremely remote settings far from sound or light pollution. There are four things anglers should consider before booking a DIY adventure to ensure everything goes off smoothly.

1. Communication with your host. The outfitter that runs the outpost camp is your best bet for accurate information on what you will need to bring along including linens, food, cutlery, water, fishing equipment, bug protection and even whether you need to bring your own toilet paper. Communication with your host will ensure you’re not left in the bush without any key items to allow for maximum comfort.

2. Communication with the outside world is also very important. If the outfitter doesn’t provide a method of communication such as a solar/generator WiFi, satellite phone, or emergency beacon, look into renting one and bringing one along. You never know when someone may get a hook in the hand or need to be assisted in any way!  Being able to be in contact with the outfitter or your family is crucial.

3. Check the Website. Anglers can get a lot of valuable information from the outfitters' photo galleries on their websites. What do the facilities look like? What size class are the fish from the lake? Are there any wildlife encounters one must be prepared for? Is there cut/supplied firewood etc. take a deep dive into the photography from the outfitter to set your expectations of the facility. Read the reviews other anglers have left to ensure what you see is what you can expect and finally, speak with the outfitter about how old or how often the website is updated!

4. Have a BLAST! This is your fishing adventure and more often than not, a DIY outpost camp is just that… an adventure. Things will go right, and things will go wrong, it’s all part of the experience and should be expected. Being able to roll with the punches Mother Nature throws at you will ensure no matter what happens in the bush, you’ll have a trip of a lifetime to remember. 

outpost bunks
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

These are the most popular sportfish found in Algoma country, but there are a variety of others anglers can target throughout the region.

Fish Species

Algoma is fortunate to house many species of fish that are considered “fly-friendly”. Being fly-friendly means anglers have a chance at targeting, hooking and releasing fish on a fly vs conventional tackle which in general is more versatile in deeper lakes or other bodies of water. Fish that are fly friendly tend to be found in 30 feet of water or less allowing anglers the ability to get their flies down to their level in hopes of hooking up. Fish that live below 40 feet, such as lake trout are much more difficult for anglers to present their flies to, simply because of the setup of a fly rod vs a conventional system. So what species are available to anglers on the fly in Algoma? GREAT question!

Northern Pike – arguably the kings and queens of fresh water, this dominant flesh eater is found in lakes and rivers all over Algoma Country. Lie-in-wait predators, pike viciously attack anything they can fit in their mouths and sometimes things they can’t. From small baitfish and insects to ducklings or chipmunks on the water’s surface, there are few creatures safe from the jaws of a northern pike. Vicious surface strikes and great populations of big fish make northern pike fishing in Algoma Country GREAT! 

angler fishing northern pike pike streamers
Photo credits: The New Fly Fisher

Trout – when most people think of fly fishing, they think of fly fishing for trout. Algoma has many trout species present in spades! The aforementioned lake trout is targetable during small windows in the season, namely fall and spring when they come shallow to spawn and to feed right after ice out. Rainbow trout inhabit many lakes and rivers in Algoma Country and are a favourite species to target on the fly. They are aggressive and are available basically most of the season when regulations allow. The jewel in Algoma’s crown is the eastern brook trout, arguably one of the most beautiful fish swimming in freshwater, these apex predators are great indicators of pristine clean water and a healthy ecosystem. No wonder why they are all over Algoma Country!  

Steelhead / Lake Run Rainbow Trout – steelhead are a fantastic adversary in Algoma Country rivers. Living in the Great Lakes for the majority of their lives, migrating into the rivers that empty into the great lakes, these anadromous fish are challenging to hook and are very tough fighters. Entering the rivers in the spring and fall months, they offer fly anglers a very different experience than their river resident cousins. Generally larger in stature, they can eat flies willingly and are sought after by fly anglers!

brook trout
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

Smallmouth Bass – pound for pound, one of the hardest fighting fish in freshwater, smallmouth bass can be found in most bodies of water in Algoma Country. They are acrobatic fighters and can grow quite large with the Ontario Record reaching double digits at 10.4lbs. They, like pike are opportunistic feeders and will strike many offerings throughout the water column.

Algoma Country is full of adventurous opportunities for fly anglers. Being prepared and having the willingness to adapt to conditions is a key factor in the success of your trip. Pre-planning is a fun and exciting way to get the trip started early and have you so looking forward to your DIY adventure in Algoma Country. What about the fish? In Algoma, you rarely have to worry about the fishing. It’s just THAT good!

About Mark Melnyk

Currently, Mark is the host and producer of The New Fly Show. With a passion of fly fishing, the shows goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers.