Fishing in the City

Discover Thunder Bay's Urban Angling Hotspots

On your visit to Thunder Bay this spring make sure to bring your fishing rod as there is some excellent urban walleye angling to be had right in the city limits. The Kaministiquia River, the Current River and Boulevard Lake are a couple great spots to try with quick access from anywhere in the city.

Kaministiquia River

The largest of Thunder Bay's 11 streams and rivers also has its most diverse fishery. The Kaministiquia is a large, deceptively swift river that features holes that go down 40 feet or better. In the section from the Highway 61 bridge to the river mouth, anglers will find plentiful walleye and northern pike. Less common are rock bass and crappie. 

The actual mouth of the Kam, as it's known to locals, is split into three unique arms: the Mckellar, Mission and Kam. All three arms have good walleye fishing—with fish over 10 pounds caught every year, although the average is closer to 2 pounds. There's a good public boat access in the lower river off  106th Ave, on Mission Island, and above the James Street Bridge at Mountdale Avenue. Shore anglers can fish at the Mountdale launch and at a public—wheelchair accessible—fishing platform on the south east side of the lower Kaministiquia near the Island Drive bridge.

Immediately below the Highway 61 Bridge, shore anglers can fish off the metal reinforcing wall along the east bank. Good catches of walleye are not uncommon here. From the Hwy 61 bridge up to the grounds at Fort William Historical Park, the river starts to pick up speed and complexity. Some excellent corner holes in this stretch of river hold good populations of walleye. Although outside of Thunder Bay proper, the rapids between Kakabeka Falls and the Hydro outflow features some good fishing for walleye.

Gord Ellis spring walleye close up

Gord Ellis shows his catch of a spring walleye.

Boulevard Lake

The Current is the second largest river in Thunder Bay, and is the home of a medium sized swimming reservoir within city limits known as Boulevard Lake. The Current River is a classic cold-water, freestone fishery with good access throughout most of its run from Onion Lake dam. The reaches of river above Boulevard Lake are swift and beautiful, with many large pools that are home to brook trout, walleye and pike. The mouth of the Current River, located below the bridge on Cumberland Street has a diverse warm water fishery including walleye, rock bass and pike.

There are several piers accessible from Fisherman's Road that allow anglers to cast or soak worms at the river mouth. Wading anglers can work some of the pools below the large falls near the mouth for walleye.

Above the mini-Hydro dam is Boulevard Lake. Walleye are occasionally caught in Boulevard by anglers using canoes or paddleboats. Shore anglers often fish just above the dam on the lake, where the water is slightly cooler and deeper. Good access to Boulevard is found on both sides of the lake off Lyon Boulevard. Walleye up to eight pounds have been caught here, but smaller fish are more the norm.  Above Boulevard, brook trout can be found in decent numbers, and the larger pools hold walleye.

Cold water can mean big walleye

Cold water can mean big walleye. Yes indeed. Photo by Gord Ellis

The Current River

The Current River from Boulevard Lake to Trowbridge Falls, about Highway 11/17, is a gorgeous river and prime for fly fishing.

Access is found at Centennial Park, off Arundel, and at Trowbridge Falls Park, off Copenhagen Road.

The Cascades Conservation Area, located on the upper Current, is perhaps the loveliest stretch of river in Thunder Bay. A series of spectacular falls and pools hold walleye, pike and brook trout. The park—run by the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority (LRCA)—is located at the end of Balsam Street, north of Highway 11/17. The Conservation Authority maintains the parking—there is tons of parking for the minimal charge of $2 per vehicle per day. The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority also offers an Explorer Card for access to all conservation areas managed by the LRCA.

Cheryl Ellis with jig walleye

Cheryl Ellis uses a jig to land this walleye. Photo by Gord Ellis
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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