Great Fishing in Northern Lights Country Up Highway 588

Find bass, walleye and trout on your next fishing trip.

Northwest Ontario has many truly great places to fish. But one of the lesser known gems is the corridor from Whitefish Lake to Northern Lights Lake.  This area is located west of Thunder Bay and can be easily accessed via Hwy 588, just west of Kakabeka Falls. Heading up Hwy 588, the entire highway corridor is packed with angling that’s second to none. Here is a list of some of the great opportunities available with a number of fishing resorts in the Thunder Bay area.

 Smallmouth Bass

Bass are rapidly becoming the most popular fish in Northwest Ontario, and are found in every large body of water in Northern Lights country. Northern Lights Lake itself is  the most underrated bass water body in Ontario, despite its thriving population of smallmouth.  Arrow, Sandstone, Prelate, Sunbow, Melvin and Icarus are just a few of the other lake that have smallmouth bass. One sleeper for bass is Whitefish Lake. The fish have recently found their way into Whitefish and  are getting very large due to the fertility of the water.

 Walleye

The  Whitefish Lake to Northern Lights Lake corridor  has world class walleye fishing opportunities.  Whitefish Lake is a long, shallow walleye factory that has fish of both size and quantity. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has found Whitefish Lake to be one of the most productive fisheries in the north. The average size of the walleye here is 17 inches, but fish over ten pounds are not uncommon.

Whitefish Lake  is a tremendous open water fishery but has a first ice bite that’s gang busters. For trophy walleye, both Arrow Lake and Sandstone Lake, just west of Whitefish, can offer a trophy opportunity. Arrow is deep and clear, but holds some of the largest walleye in the north. 

Sandstone Lake  is deep and clear, but big walleye reside here as well. Northern Lights also has truly giant walleye, with 12 to 13 pounders a distinct opportunity. Its nearly endless reefs and rock piles would take a lifetime to explore. Many other smaller lakes in the   area have walleye including Addie, Icarus, Prelate and Iron Range.

Sandro Fragale Northern Lights walleye GEllis

Sandro Fragale with a Northern Lights Walleye - Photo by Gord Ellis

Lake Trout

Arrow Lake and Northern Lights Lake are both top shelf  lake trout waters, with the potential for  trophy sized fish. Spring and fall are prime time for flat lining shallow water spoons and plugs. In the summer, wire lining and downriggers catch the trout.  Both lakes provide excellent ice fishing action as well. Other lake trout waters include Icarus, Rose, Atik and  Sandstone Lakes.

Brook Trout

The opportunity for brook trout in Northern Lights country is exceptional.  There are a large number of put and take stocked lakes brimming with specked trout. Some of them are found right along the main road, others take a hike or ATV ride to access.  South of Whitefish Lake are the famous Lismore and Hartington lakes. These lakes are on the remote side, but are worth the effort. North of Sandstone are the Laurie’s lakes. This chain of brookie lakes is known for good fishing and are all accessible via a short hike or canoe carry.

North of Hwy 588, between Whitefish and Sandstone are Head and Little Head lakes. Both are known for nice fish.  Towards Arrow Lake (off East Arrow Road) are Birch, McKecknie and Forrest Lakes. All are located just off the road.           

There are other species to fish in Northern Lights country, including pike, whitefish, perch and even brown trout.  The hardest part of fishing this area is deciding where to start!

About Gord Ellis

Gord Ellis is a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay, Ontario and a full time journalist, broadcaster, professional angler and guide. He is the senior editor of Ontario Out of Doors magazine, Canada's best read fishing and hunting magazine. Gord is a regular on CBC radio's Superior Morning and writes a monthly column on Ontario for the Northern Wilds magazine, in Minnesota. He has written over a thousand feature articles and columns for publications as diverse as Sentier Chasse Peche, in Quebec, the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail. He is a long time member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada and has won better than 25 national awards for his writing and photography. In 2018, Gord was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.

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