Fishing Northern Lights Country

Northern Ontario offers vast opportunities for the adventuring angler.

In this article, I write about a lake that is surrounded by a special environment, where fishing numbers flourish, especially walleye. The lake I’m focusing on is Whitefish Lake, in the heart of "Northern Lights country," Nolalu, Ontario.

Situated less than an hour’s drive from the Minnesota border and 42 miles southwest of Thunder Bay, it’s a key place for Americans to enjoy Canadian fishing (and the exchange rate).

I can tell you from personal experience that this fishery packs a big punch.

Reaching 11.7 square miles, just over 7,000 acres, with a maximum depth of about 22 feet, and an average depth of 6.5 feet, Whitefish Lake is a structure-filled lake with many reefs and rock walls -- ideal for walleye and more. The lake itself drains into Lake Superior via The Arrow River.

There is plenty to do for the outdoor enthusiast. If you bring the family, there are plenty of lovely beaches for swimming; excellent hiking and canoeing are also available.

fishing boat

Wildlife is abundant, and I highly recommend bringing your camera everywhere you go when visiting! There are bald eagles, osprey, falcons, waterfowl, and an assortment of boreal forest birds -- a birder's paradise! Land animals include black bear, wolf, moose, deer, lynx, otter, beaver, and more!

Whether you choose to fly fish for smallmouth bass, or troll for big walleye, this lake has something for everyone. Beaches to swim and enjoy a summer's day, numerous boat launches, and plenty of camps and cottages to rent -- you have to try this lake out for yourself.

Though the lake is known for its yellow perch fishing, the walleye are pretty amazing too. Whitefish Lake has a variety of fish species including northern pike, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, walleye, and white sucker. Year-round fishing is popular and ice fishing is most definitely enjoyed on the lake. Many of the resorts offer year-round fishing.

ontario smallmouth bass

Lodging around WhiteFish Lake

Some of the camps and resorts offer full amenities, laundry, a general store (get your fishing license here), boat launches, boat rentals, live bait, and more. I highly recommend doing your research on what resort suits your needs. Below is a list I have provided for the keen angler wanting to fish and stay at this lake. There are campgrounds available as well.

ontario smallmouth bass

Other need-to-know info

Closest hospital: Thunder Bay regional

Closest tackle shops: Canadian Tire, D&R Sporting Goods

Fishing regulations zone: 6

Check with your resort for available fishing licenses. Otherwise, the Canadian Tire on Arthur Street is the best option to purchase a license.

Gear to use

Fly gear: Fly rods to use can be from 6- to 8-weight with match reel, full 350-grain sinking line, with toothy critter tapered leader in 12- to 15-pound test range.

The water is lightly stained, and the fish are not leader-shy.

Top water in shallower bays is excellent for smallmouth! Use a floating line with a 7 1/2 tapered leaded (in a 6- to 8-pound test) (a 2-foot section of wire bite can be used, due to pike being in all sections of the lake).

ontario smallmouth bass

Clousers and top water poppers (green/white belly, yellow and black, work well).

Conventional tackle

  • Fast action “walleye rods” will do well here
  • Bring along an ultralight 6-foot spinning rod for the perch
  • Lures: Wally Diver -- excellent for trolling
  • Soft plastic grub style jigs -- pink and white work well
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Crankbait
  • Husky jerk
  • Savage gear 3D lipster -- absolutely excellent for trolling and casting
  • Variety of jigs
  • Variety of live baits can be bought at the local resorts.

This is just a small list of suggestions.

Driving from out of the country? Pack your valid passport! Understand what you are allowed to bring into the country and what you are not.

About Rebekka Redd

Rebekka Redd is an avid fly fisher, artist, equestrian, environmentalist, animal advocate, martial artist, published writer, and TV show host. 

She began fishing with her two brothers at the age of eight and she started fly fishing in her early teens. After her brother died in a tragic accident she taught herself to fly fish and it has helped heal her heart after losing her sibling.

Today, Rebekka fishes in memory of her brother. She mentors aspiring young anglers about fly fishing with casting lessons at outdoor trade shows & community involvement programs for the youth.

Rebekka is a passionate conservationist. She is actively involved in her local steelhead club to help raise public awareness on preserving fish populations, habitats and proper fish handling techniques.

She has worked as a photographer and videographer in film, CMT music videos, and on television. She also worked on CBC's number one family drama, Heartland.

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