Fly Fishin' The Nipigon River

The lure of catching the world's largest brook trout to break a 100-year old record.

A fierce tug at the end of my fly line jolted my arm, the reel spun, and the line ran out. The fish swam deep, broke free of my hook and was gone before I even had the chance to dream about how-big-it-might-be. 

Reelin' In the Big One

The appeal of the world’s biggest brook trout, at 31-inches and 14 1/2 pounds, was enough to lure this fly fisher to the Nipigon River in Nipigon, Ontario last summer. Though the record breaking trout was caught in 1915, there are still some big fish in the river, and I hoped to land one.

Gord Ellis Sr monster Nipigon River brook trout G Ellis

Gord Ellis Senior lands a Nipigon brookie - Photo by Gord Ellis

With Ray Rivard as my Nipigon River Adventures guide for the day, we drove our boat upstream and beneath the river’s highest damn. Torrential rains had fallen on the region in the weeks prior and water was flowing over the top of the damn. High water like this disturbs the resident fish and we knew the catching would be tough. Again and again, the brookies of the Nipigon tasted my fly, and then schooled me on how not-to-land a monster fish.

Fishing in the Wilderness

superior lookout redrock

Ray Rivard looks out over Lake Superior from Lloyd's Lookout neear The Quebec Lodge.

But sometimes the fishing is not about the fish. The solitude and wilderness that surround the Nipigon are spectacular and awe-inspiring. The river is 48km long and anywhere from 50 to 200 kilometers wide. The watershed is considered the headwaters to the Great Lakes and is the largest body of water flowing into Lake Superior.

At times, the flow was so gentle and the river so wide, that it was easy to forget this was a river. I easily got lost looking into the deep canyon, rocky shoreline and thick Boreal forest, which is home is home to a few Ontario species at risk like the American White pelican, Peregrine Falcon, woodland caribou, Eastern cougar and wolverine.

I cast my line into a faster moving run. While the fly drifted around the end of the boat with the current, I couldn’t help but scan the horizon; I wanted more than anything to see a wolverine. My eyes returned to the water as the fly landed in the optimum position. I held my breath hoping for a bite then recast while scoping the land again.

Fishing and Lodging in Nipigon

Nipigon is a small town about an hour, or 60 miles, north of Thunder Bay. Though the fishing is fantastic, the region is also worth visiting for the solitude and scenery.

Quebec Lodge
Quebec Lodge is comfortably rustic, and tranquil. The 1930s log cabin is perched on a hillside overlooking Lake Superior’s Nipigon Bay.  Enjoy a sunset hike to an outstanding viewpoint, relax on the patio with a glass of wine, and plan tomorrow’s adventure.

Nipigon River Adventures and the Quebec Lodge, 807.621.6342

quebec lodge room

A rustic stay at the Quebec Lodge in Red Rock


Kayaking, hiking and mountain biking in Nipigon

Epic Adventures
Epic Adventures
kayak guide and Nipigon native, Michael Elliot is an excellent source of area information and offers customized kayaking, hiking or mountain bike adventures.

Each guided paddle trip includes a one-hour lesson where you’ll learn basic kayaking techniques and water safety.

Most trips depart the Nipigon Marina, paddle downstream to the river’s back channel to the calm flat water of the Nipigon Bayou and eventually end near the native paintings on the cliffs in Nipigon Bay.

mountain biking

Mike Elliot tests the trails riding the terrain at Shuniah Mines near Thunder Bay.

Epic Adventures 807.887.1008

About Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine and travel writer. She is the camping editor and writer for Monica’s adventure travels have taken her sailing on the world’s biggest lake, mountain biking in the Colorado Rockies, wine touring in the Napa Valley, road tripping in Mexico and surfing in Fiji. Her writing and photography has been published in Alaska Airlines Magazine, Backcountry Magazine, Bespoke Magazine,  and online at the Matador Network and the Active Times.  Monica lives with her husband and dog in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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