Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
Quetico's Trout Ponds: Hidden in Plain Sight

Today’s post comes from James Burns.conservation officer and former interior ranger of Quetico Provincial Park.

Quetico Provincial Park is a great place for many reasons.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know this.

But this article is about something that may not be appreciated by those of you who are already here to fish.

So listen up, fish nerds, because I’m going to share some inside information.

man holding fish in canoe

Quetico has one of the highest concentrations of Lake Trout lakes in Canada, south of the Northwest Territories.

More than 15% of all lakes larger than 10 ha in Quetico are known to have trout, compared to 1% of lakes in Ontario.

It’s cool because Lake Trout literally requires very cold water to live year-round.

Given how far south of Quetico it is on the map, it’s surprising that these fish are here, much less in such a high concentration.

The best part? Some of the smaller lakes on the map have the largest populations of lake trout.

Speaking of maps…get one now!

Amok, Cone, Cullen and Hoare There are a few small lakes that support significant populations of lake trout. They’re not exactly destination lakes for the park’s fishing contingent, but they should be.

man holding fish in canoe

If you want to catch a 5-pound lake trout in 15 feet of water in July, you should check out Lake Ferguson.

The eastern basin of the lake consists of shallow water, making it uninhabitable for Lake Trout in the summer. However, the western basin is deep, making it a perfect sanctuary for Lake Trout when it’s hot.

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group canoe fishing

Without bass dominating the upper regions of the lake ecosystem, lake trout are free to make time-limited forays into shallow water, briefly populating that void, before returning to their deep, cool sanctuaries.

Unfortunately, when I looked at a map to point out some lakes, I had to leave out some of my favorites because they are too small to have a name.

hands holding fish

If these lakes were outside the park and had road access, they would be closed to fishing due to the vulnerability of their trout populations.

However, within Quetico, I doubt more than a few people wet a line there in any given year and those who do are targeting bass on the shore.

But here’s the thing: there are no basses.

These small lakes are the last of the remote sanctuaries that have escaped introduction.

group fishing collage

This is what allows Lake Trout to dominate in both deep and shallow water ecosystems during the winter and summer.

As the old saying goes: nature abhors a vacuum.

man holding fish

What I’m trying to emphasize is that Quetico offers some of the best trout fishing you’ll ever have, and you may be able to paddle beyond it.

Keep an eye out for lake trout

So next time you’re paddling from one “destination” lake to another, stop and look at what’s beneath you.

If the water is clear and deep enough that you can’t see the bottom, it could contain Lake Trout!

two people fishing from canoe with dog

Take a few seconds, write and get ready. You could have the best fishing of your life!

Some reminders for responsible fishing in Quetico:

  • Fishing with barbed hooks is prohibited. If you bring barbed hooks, pinch them.
  • Use only artificial lures.
  • Do not throw plastic baits or fishing line into the water or shorelines.
  • consider using lead-free tackle
  • For catch limits and seasons remember that Quetico is in Fisheries Management Zone 5
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Looking for a recipe for your catch of the day? Look at this blog.