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Alternative Species

Besides well-known game fish, Ontario has a variety of other species that offer great sport, including carp, brown trout, catfish, freshwater drum, rainbow trout, sturgeon, and whitefish.

Although often taken incidentally on bass and walleye lures, the best baits for channel catfish are minnows, worms, cut-fish, and strong-smelling meats such as liver, fished on bottom. In rivers, look for catfish in deep water during the day and on shoals at night. Tailwaters of dams and below rapids are key locations. In lakes, fish shoals at night, holes during the day, and wind-swept stirred-up shorelines.

Freshwater drum are bullish when caught on light tackle. They're often taken while fishing bait or lures for smallmouth bass and walleye in the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River drainages and the southern Great Lakes. The Ontario record is 20.6 lbs (9.35 kg).

If big, powerful, and wary fish are what you seek, you'll love carp. They're found in many shallow, weedy, muddy areas of the Great Lakes and southern inland waters. Savvy anglers fish for them with worms, corn, or dough balls set on or just above bottom on sinker or float rigs. Many fly rodders are also finding great sport fishing for these spooky fish. Ontario's carp fishery is underutilized. New provincial records are out there!

White bass inhabit Lake Nipissing and the lower Great Lakes. They're caught easily on small jigs and spinners or worms during early summer spawning runs at rivermouths. And they're great sport for fly fishers too. The Ontario record is 2.87 lbs (1.3 kg).

CARP FACTS
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 8 to 15 lbs (3.6 to 6.8 kg).
Temperature and habitat: Shallow, weedy, warm water over a mud bottom.
Biology: Spawn near shore in frantic groups in early summer as water temperatures hit 63°F (17.2°C).
Range: Most of southern Ontario.

CHANNEL CATFISH FACTS
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 2 to 4 lbs (.9 to 1.8 kg).
Temperature and habitat: Relatively cool, clear, deeper water with sand, gravel, or rubble bottoms in mid- to large river systems and lakes.
Biology: Spawns in late spring-early summer when water temperatures reach between 75 and 85°F (23.9 to 29.5°C).
Range: Mainly inhabits lower Great Lakes through Lake Huron and east into Ottawa River drainage. Some in lower northwest.

WHITEFISH FACTS
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 4 lbs (1.8 kg).
Temperature and habitat: Can be found in big cold-water rivers and lakes. They generally feed on or near bottom.
Biology: Spawns during the fall.
Range: Mainly in cold northern lakes. Thrives in many of the Great Lakes as well.

Two men admiring a recent catch.

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Young girl holding up a fish.

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