Here are the 3 Best Spots for Fall Boating in Ontario

These relatively southern spots in Northern Ontario are the best place to stretch the boating season out for one more week or two.

With days growing shorter and frost developing on the pumpkins, diehard boaters in Ontario’s north country are still out there on the water, enjoying the final few weeks before freeze-up puts an end to open water fun.

For me, personally, fall is about muskie fishing. A time when lake and river temperatures drop, and begin to mix, resulting in a phenomenon called lake turnover—a process which results in cold water from top to bottom and where giant fish emerge from their deep-water confines. This fall, my time on the water was rewarded with a hefty 50” muskie I caught—and released—on Thanksgiving weekend, after two years of pursuit. 

It is not time to put the boat away yet, folks regardless of what autumn activity you pursue. Break out another layer of clothing and start the motor up because we are heading out on the cold water, for a last kick at the can. (And when you're ready to put the boat away for the season, check out our fall maintenance guide for boat owners.)

Ontarians love to stretch the boating season as long as possible

Recreational boating is a way of life with more than one in five Canadians owning at least one craft. And water time does not end on Labour Day weekend. No siree bob! Ontario boasts the most active boaters in Canada, with 40% of all residents participating in boating and related watercraft activities such as fishing and waterfowl hunting. Lodge owners, knowing that folks in the north love being on the water continue catering (thankfully) to fall anglers, duck hunters, and other late-season enthusiasts.

Here are some spots to consider for your final few weeks on the water this fall.

1. Lake Nipissing

No other water body in Ontario’s north country comes alive in the fall quite like Lake Nipissing, a virtual “aqueous” autumn paradise. A massive lake measuring 40-miles long and 16-miles wide, Nipissing is bustling in the fall with boat traffic, most of it anglers in pursuit of the mystical ‘fish of 10,000 casts’, the mighty muskellunge. 

North American’s most famous fall Esox chaser, the ‘musky hunter’ himself; Jim Saric, spent time on the lake last fall, enjoying cold water fishing at Bear Creek Cottages and has photos of a 53” giant muskie to prove it! Bear Creek Cottages has its own boat launch and a great docking system for fall boaters, which works out well for late-season enthusiasts. Ontario’s near north is the place to be for autumn time on the water, so be sure to visit the other lodges that operate in and around wonderful Lake Nipissing. 

2. Mattawa River 

Just a stone’s throw away from Nipissing is the fabled Mattawa River and another great fall boating hotspot. The Mattawa River Resort is the place to visit while touring the Mattawa and, as luck would have it, they still have watercraft and boats available for their clients. According to the resort’s Director of Marketing Dave Schiff, the lodge continues to host fun on the water this fall. “The boat launch is here and is free to our guests.” Says Schiff “We have a fishing boat that can be rented, and canoes, kayaks as well,” he adds. Mattawa River Resort is a wonderful option for boaters who enjoy the most peaceful time of the year on the water. 

3. Algonquin Park

Other areas of interest this fall for late-season boating is Lake Simcoe, Georgian Bay, and finally Ontario’s mecca of fall water activity—Algonquin Park. Voted one of the Top 10 Fall Boating locations in Canada, Ontario’s crown jewel offers autumn boating, captured best on canvas by famous painter Tom Thomson, whose fall foliage paintings were inspired by Algonquin Park’s lakes and rivers, and can be viewed at the special park exhibit that bears his name. The park boasts an estimated 1500 lakes for canoeing, kayaking, and in some cases powerboating. Most lakes prohibit gas outboard motor use except along the Highway 60 corridor. 

Check out Algonquin Park’s boating guide for more information on boating opportunities, a complete list of boat launches, as well as canoe/kayaking opportunities within the park: 

Additional Resources for Fall Boating in Ontario 

Ontario Boating Directory

The Ontario Boating Directory is a wonderful resource to use this fall for searching products or services. The Boating Directory is a digital online tool, also available in an interactive mobile app version, with a printed version on its way.  

Cold water boating safety

Ensure your craft is seaworthy, especially when boating late season! Carry a tool kit, safety flares, a whistle, life jacket, life ropes, and other equipment required by law for your size boat. While on the water after dark, ensure your lights are functional and carry a flashlight.  Consult the Canadian Coastguard Guidelines for details on essential safety equipment, and for more information call the Boating Safety line 1 (800) 267-6687.

Enjoy your last kick at the can on Ontario’s beautiful lakes and rivers this fall, and perhaps I will see you on the water! Our fall maintenance guide for boaters is waiting for when you finally decide to pack it in for the season.


About Jeff Morrison

Jeff Morrison is an award-winning outdoor writer, book author, and nationally-syndicated newspaper and magazine columnist.

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