Bun­dle up and bait your hook in prepa­ra­tion to visit the great­est ice-fish­ing des­ti­na­tions in the na­tion.

Long-time Out­door Canada mag­a­zine fish­ing ed­i­tor Gord Pyzer shares the best spots to ex­pe­ri­ence the na­tion’s amaz­ing ice-fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - By Gord Pyzer

CANADA’S TWO mil­lion fresh­wa­ter lakes cover al­most eight per cent of the coun­try, and win­ter is the ideal time to take ad­van­tage of the bounty on our doorsteps. Here are the 10 best places in Canada to drop a line through the ice.

Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog, Que. Nes­tled in the pic­turesque rolling coun­try­side of Que­bec’s Eastern Town­ships, t he 42-kilo­me­tre-long Mem­phrem­a­gog of­fers ice an­glers a range of species, in­clud­ing brown and rain­bow trout, land­locked sal­mon, pike and perch from around Christ­mas un­til the end of March. There are sev­eral good ac­cess points around the lake for the do-it-your­selfers, or rental ice huts are avail­able in the city of Ma­gog.

Lake Sim­coe, Ont. Just a short drive north of Toronto, Sim­coe is ar­guably the most fa­mous ice fish­ery in the world and of­fers a va­ri­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties for new­com­ers and vet­er­ans alike. First-timers can take ad­van­tage of the in­ex­pen­sive, all-in­clu­sive com­mer­cial ice-hut op­er­a­tions and get driven to the heated shel­ter, then shown ev­ery­thing they need to know to start catch­ing yel­low perch, white­fish and lake trout.

Lake Nipiss­ing, Ont. You can rough it in style on north­east­ern On­tario’s Lake Nipiss­ing by rent­ing a four- or six-per­son “ice bun­ga­low” right on top of one of the lake's best ice-fish­ing lo­ca­tions. The por­ta­ble chalets are in­su­lated, heated and in­clude bunk beds, ta­ble and chairs, sink, stove, lights and a bar­be­cue. Just step out the door and catch din­ner.

Lake Su­pe­rior, Ont. The big­gest fresh­wa­ter lake in the world is also one of the best ice fish­eries, es­pe­cially around the city of Thun­der Bay and the town of Nip­igon. Thun­der Bay is home to spec­tac­u­lar lake trout fish­ing, while much shal­lower Black Bay of­fers su­perb op­por­tu­ni­ties to catch yel­low perch. Be­ing so close to a city also means you can fish dur­ing the day and en­joy fine din­ing and ac­com­mo­da­tion in the evening — the best of both worlds.

Lake of the Woods, Ont. North­west­ern On­tario’s Lake of the Woods is a 400,000-hectare-plus win­ter won­der­land, with 14,000 pine- and spruce-stud­ded is­lands and more than 100,000 kilo­me­tres of shore­line. The fed­eral govern­ment hires con­trac­tors each win­ter to main­tain a mul­ti­lane win­ter road sys­tem on the lake that lets First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties in the south­ern por­tion drive to Kenora in the north. Cot­tagers and out­door en­thu­si­asts sub­se­quently plow sec­ondary roads off the main sys­tem to ac­cess ad­di­tional parts of the lake, pro­vid­ing sea­soned an­glers with easy ac­cess to ex­cel­lent wilder­ness fish­ing for wall­eye ( ABOVE), pike and lake trout. Lake Win­nipeg and the Red River, Man. Lake Win­nipeg and the Red River of­fer con­ve­nient ac­cess to some of the finest wall­eye fish­ing on Earth. Be­cause it’s so big — Win­nipeg is the third largest lake en­tirely in Canada — hun­dreds of thou­sands of hefty wall­eye mi­grate in the fall to the south­ern end and gather around the mouth of the Red River. The ac­tion gets un­der­way around Christ­mas on the river it­self, and by New Year's it’s boom­ing on the lake.

Lake Atha­pa­puskow, Man. Check Man­i­toba’s an­nual Mas­ter An­gler Awards pro­gram (which of­fi­cially records tro­phy-sized fish) and one lo­ca­tion pops up re­peat­edly: Atha­pa­puskow. Lo­cated just south of Flin Flon, 20,000-hectare “Atha­pap” of­fers qual­ity lodge ac­com­mo­da­tion in the win­ter­time — a rar­ity across much of the north­land. And you may hook a new world-record trout; Atha­pa­puskow was home to a pre­vi­ous 64-pound, record-book gi­ant.

Tobin Lake, Sask. Tobin Lake is one of the pre­mier wall­eye fish­eries in the na­tion — it’s where a world ice-fish­ing record wall­eye of 18.3 pounds was caught in 2005 — but come Fe­bru­ary and March, huge north­ern pike stretch­ing more than four feet long and weigh­ing more than 30 pounds steal the scene.

Last Moun­tain Lake, Sask. Forty kilo­me­tres north­west of Regina, Last Moun­tain Lake is the largest nat­u­ral lake in south­ern Saskatchew­an and a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for those look­ing to catch wall­eye, white­fish, north­ern pike and yel­low perch. But the lake is also home to a bur­geon­ing bur­bot pop­u­la­tion. These fresh­wa­ter cod are vo­ra­cious preda­tors and ex­tremely ac­tive un­der the ice. Most peo­ple catch this fish, which looks like a cross be­tween a cat­fish and an eel, by happy ac­ci­dent.

Cold Lake, Alta. It’s fit­ting that Cold Lake is home to one of the Cana­dian Forces bases hous­ing the coun­try’s fleet of CF-18S be­cause the trout in the lake that lends its name to the city and base be­have like fighter jets, swoop­ing across sonar screens, chas­ing af­ter lures and at­tack­ing them with vengeance. It adds up to easy and ex­cit­ing win­ter angling.

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