7 Best Places to Fish in and Around Thunder Bay: A Guide to Angling in the City

An urban centre merged with the great outdoors, Thunder Bay presents in-city fishing opportunities that set it apart. Bring your gear!
A smiling man standing on the bow of a boat, holding up a 4 foot long fish.

Thunder Bay has one of the most unique and varied urban fisheries in Canada. Located on the shores of Lake Superior and surrounded by wilderness, anglers can expect to find shore access to walleye, trout, salmon, perch and pike—all just minutes from downtown. If accessible angling with a real shot at a trophy fish interests you, the northwestern city of Thunder Bay, Ontario is tough to beat.

Here are seven options that are perfect for visiting anglers. Check out all the places to fish in Thunder Bay today. 

1. Mouth of the Current River

Lorne Allard Fisherman's Park; a green, treed park with picnic gazebo and a large metal sign featuring a cutout of a fish and the words "Fisherman's Park".
Lorne Allard Fisherman's Park is the perfect place to spend a day fishing at the mouth of the Current River. 

Located on the east side of the city, the Current River is a large system with a lot of unique angling opportunities. The river mouth of the Current is an especially popular area for anglers thanks to its ease of access and variety of species. There is a dock at the mouth that allows people to cast the area where the river enters Lake Superior. A variety of species are caught here including northern pike, walleye and steelhead (rainbow trout). Just up from the lake, there is a long rapids and the pools below this are great for angling. In the fall of the year, pink salmon are found here, and walleye move in at dusk. The mouth of the Current is also a popular area for dip netting smelt in late April. A green space called “Lorne Allard Fisherman’s Park” is located at the river mouth and has picnic tables, rain shelters and bathroom facilities.  Access to the Current River mouth is found by turning south off Hodder onto Grenville, and then right on Shipyard Rd.   

2. Boulevard Lake

An aerial shot of Boulevard Lake, surrounded by golden autumn trees and green grass with buildings and a Lake Superior Harbour in the distance.
Boulevard Lake offers a variety of fish species and the benefits of still water. 

Although part of the Current River system, Boulevard is the only easily accessible spot in the city for someone who would like to use a kayak or canoe on still water. The lake is a reservoir held back by a large dam. Steelhead that go over the fishway on the dam are occasionally stranded in the lake and can be caught in late May and June. Walleyes are also occasionally caught in Boulevard, generally closer to the dam where they are drawn to the current. At the north end of the lake, where the river enters, native brook trout can be caught, as well as walleye and pike.                

3. McVicar Creek

a fish jumping up rushing rapids next to rocky banks in McVicar Creek A blue and white sign in a forest that reads "McVicar Creek Trail" and describes the introduction of Rainbow trout into the McVicar's Creek by the Canadian Government in 1912. A smiling man crouching in a rocky, rushing stream, holding a large fish.
McVicar Creek, home to the magnificent steelhead. // Photo credits Gord Ellis

As trout creeks go, McVicar is a classic. It’s a small creek, but it has many pools and pockets that are perfect for trout to live in. Much of the lower section of creek (between River Street and Water Street) is also easily accessed thanks to green space and walking trails. Migratory rainbow trout (steelhead) move into the creek in late April and can often still be caught well into May. Most of these fish are caught using small flies or single salmon eggs. Native brook trout are found throughout the creek, with some larger specimens coming into the lower weir of the creek from Lake Superior. The mouth of McVicar Creek can be cast by anglers who wade out to a rocky berm. Most anglers cast spoon like the Little Cleo or a Rapala Husky Jerk and catch steelhead, pike and even walleye. 

4+ 5  McIntyre/ Neebing River

A person fishing on the banks of the McIntyre River, its water extra high with runoff and running fast.
High-water fishing is always challenging—the McIntyre River. // Photo credit Gord Ellis

These two rivers are both larger than McVicar Creek and share a river mouth.  Both rivers have spring and fall runs of lake-run steelhead as well as native brook trout. The McIntrye is the most classic-looking of the two, with many rapids, falls and pools. Access varies on the Mac, but most of the fishing is done above and below Central Ave. The Mac is a great river for fly anglers and has a mix of pools that are open and easy to cast, and pockets that are deep, narrow and cedar-lined. The no-fishing area directly below the dam at Lakehead University is well-signposted.  The Neebing River is slower, muddier and looks a lot less “trouty” than the Mac. However, looks can be deceiving. The Neebing has an excellent run of steelhead that starts earlier in the spring than the other urban fisheries. As soon as the Neebing opens, anglers line the banks near Edward Street in hopes of hooking a steelhead. Most anglers use a float with a roe bag for bait.  Above Edward Street, there is a no-fishing area just below the weir. Walkways along the Neebing make it easy for anglers to fish different parts of the river. In the upper portion of the Neebing River, native brook trout and small rainbow trout are the most common catch.  Shore anglers can also cast for northern pike at the mouth of the Neebing /McIntrye floodway where it enters Lake Superior.     

6. Marina Park

an aerial shot of Prince Arthur's Landing; a large lake marina with numerous boats in slips, surrounded by greenery on the shores. A young man standing waste-deep in water, smiling and holding up a large trout
Marina Park, and a steelhead caught casting from the shore of the Marina.

Marina Park is a hub of activity in Thunder Bay with its mix of walkways, docking facilities and cultural events. It is also one of the best areas in Thunder Bay to cast from shore into Lake Superior.  Although the boat docking and launching areas generally don’t allow angling, most of the shoreline areas of Marina Park are open (check for signage etc.).  I’ve found the boulder-strewn shore on the east side of Marina Park, all the way to the mouth of McVicar Creek to be prime. Casting, spoons crankbaits or jigs from the shore into Superior is the main technique. In the spring, steelhead cruise the rocky shoreline as they prepare to run up the local creeks and rivers. As the water warms, northern pike will appear near the inshore areas of the marina. Some of these pike top 20 pounds.  Other fish sometimes caught by shore casting anglers include smallmouth bass, whitefish, perch and walleye.    

7. Kaministiquia River

Two boys standing on a boat on the Kaministiquia River, fishing on a summer day.
Fishing walleye on the Kaministiquia. // Photo credit Gord Ellis

When it comes to sheer diversity of opportunities, the best local river for fishing in Thunder Bay is the Kaministiquia, located on the city’s south side. The Kam has an epic fishery that includes smallmouth bass, pike, perch, rock bass and crappie. During the spring, there are steelhead and even the occasional brook trout found here. In September, chinook salmon from Lake Superior run up the river to spawn and are occasionally caught by boat and shore anglers.  Most anglers come to the Kam to fish for walleye, which are relatively plentiful and can grow quite large. Walleye that surpass the 10-pound range are not unheard of. Most walleye anglers troll large crankbaits such as the Rapala Tail Dancer or jig with a minnow in deep holes.  The Kam is a large river, and most of the angling here is done via boat, kayak or canoe.  There are several access points to the river, including beneath the bridge to McKellar Island on Island Dr., the boat launch on Mission Island and the Neste Boat Launch, off Montreal Street. You can fish from shore, and much of that fishing is done near the boat launches and around the bridges.

Plan Your Fishing Adventure in Thunder Bay Today

Thunder Bay is an angling mecca.  If you are travelling to the city this year, make sure you pack your fishing gear. 

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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