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Lake Nipissing is the focus of so much of the areaís
fishing and boating activity that itís safe to say itís Lake Nipissing
that defines much of the character, historic and otherwise, of the
entire regionís fishery. This rich, fertile lake has a history of
human settlement going back into the mists of time, back to days when
the sturgeon of Lake Nipissing were known throughout North America as
a trade item of the mysterious and mystical people who populated the
area. The Jesuit Fathers in their recollections of the 16th century
described the native inhabitants of Nipissing as sorcerers and
magicians. Whatever the history, one thing is evident--- these people
knew and understood the wealth of this vast fishing ground.
Lake Nipissing is approximately 67 km long and 26 km
wide, covering about 85,470 hectares (130 km of shoreline), with the
west end of the lake a virtual paradise of uninhabited islands,
waterways, fishing grounds and inlets, dotted with lodges and camps.
Lake Nipissing is a relatively shallow lake, with itís
deepest points around the estuaries and tributaries. The mix provides
for a healthy balance throughout the year of shallow weed beds
(harboring fantastic fighters like the Great Northern Pike), and the
cooler, deeper waters required as summer heat comes on (providing for
vibrant pickerel/walleye populations). Other important sporting
species include smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and muskellunge. As
well, because Lake Nipissing is not too deep (4.5 meters average), it
provides the drainage area for a vast region of inland lakes and
rivers from Temagami south, the lake waters are clean and unpolluted,
clearing out of the lake basin on an annual basis. The lake drains
through the headwaters of the French River system into Georgian Bay.
The entire area of West Nipissing - Upper French River
is home to more than 40 different species of fish--- from the tiny
smelt which runs in the spring to the mighty muskellunge, the furious
warrior of the waters. Myriad lakes and streams dot the area, creating
an anglerís delight from Marten River to Crystal Falls. The lakes and
rivers give up such beauties as the ever-popular pickerel/walleye,
speckled, brook and rainbow trout. The youngest of anglers can enjoy
bringing in sweet tasting perch or the colorful sunfish. There are
bullheads and catfish, ling, cisco, northern and gar-pike, herring,
white fish, lake trout, carp, drum suckers and sheepshead. The local
bass families include rock, white, silver, small and largemouth. Fish
can be caught from shore, from boat, and from docks within easy
walking distance of camps. They can be caught in every season too,
when the boats disappear and snowmobiles take over.
Although most people are aware of spring fishing, one
time of year which is often neglected is the fall. West Nipissing -
Upper French River offers excellent fall fishing, in September and
October, especially for walleye and muskellunge.
River Valley area right over to Marten River and down
to Crystal Falls, with the lakes such as Emerald, Manitou, Red Cedar,
Tomiko and Chebogan, and their tributaries, offer wonderful
opportunities for brook trout, lake trout and walleye. Bass is also
very common in Lake Nipissing and the inland lakes, while pike fishing
is another major draw. The whole waterway system is very well
coordinated to enhance the fishery. In fact, when it comes to managing
water levels, the fishery is just below flooding in terms of priority.
Lake Nipissing and all the other West Nipissing -
Upper French River lakes enjoy an extremely active winter fishery.
Itís quite exciting to see the small towns develop on the lakes as the
winter ice forms. In fact, Lake Nipissing is considered to be the
finest ice fishing lake in all of Ontario by many experienced anglers.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources stands behind this
reputation, reporting that fish populations are stable.
Yes, the winter ice fishery in West Nipissing - Upper
French River is exceptional. Locally, people wait with anticipation
for that first solid crust of ice to form. Roads and snowmobile trails
line the surface of the area lakes like spider webs as people drive
everything from half-ton trucks to snowmobiles, spending entire
weekends in their ice huts. And the ice-huts! Some are like
mini-mansions with all the comforts away from home, while others are
Whatever your style, fishing is what youíre there for.
Local lodge and resort operators do generally have ice hut rentals,
and will support travel to and from those strategic and well known
fishing locations. They are also in the habit of moving the ice huts
rather frequently so that no one area is over fished. The areaís
all-season fishery comes complete with full lodge and camp support,
with everything from travel to bait.