Lake Nipissing

Nutrient-rich, tea-stained waters wash over pencil reeds, bulrushes, and lily pads. Sand drop-offs and rocky shoals join patches of thick cabbage weed, creating a hospitable habitat for walleye, bass, northern pike, and muskie.

At 65 kilometers long and 25 kilometers wide, this broad, shallow lake channels into Lake Huron through the French River, making it one of the largest inland lakes in the province. Its shallow waters are rimmed by a low-slung shoreline of sloping rocks and sand beaches bordered by thick vegetation.

Surrounded by full-service communities with marinas, launch ramps, and accommodations, and less than four hours from the GTA, Lake Nipissing is a year-round gift for Ontario anglers.

Navigating Lake Nipissing

Lake Nipissing’s shallow depth can lead to extremely choppy conditions in moderate winds. Fortunately, the lake is surrounded by communities with marinas and good boat launches, providing many access points. The southern shore is the least developed, but the community of Dokis First Nation offers launch facilities along the French River. Multiple access points allow anglers to launch near protected waters within the lake’s arms, bays, and channels.

A fishfinder/GPS unit with charts from Navionics.com is helpful when navigating Lake Nipissing. Keep an eye on electronics for abrupt depth changes and avoid traveling at great speed over unfamiliar areas.

The features that challenge navigation also make Lake Nipissing a productive water body with tremendous exploration potential. The shoreline, nearshore islands, and hidden structures offer sanctuary to every fish species. The caution required to avoid rough weather or rocks is well worth it for the angling opportunities in this vast water body.

Walleye

Nipissing has a long history as a walleye fishery. Despite years of angling pressure, Ontario’s most popular game fish is still abundant. Regulations protect this important fishery: walleye between 40-45 centimeters, two per Sport License and one per Conservation License, can be kept; others must be released. This protects young fish and mature walleye needed for a healthy age structure.

From the season opener in May to mid-June, look for walleye in shallow water close to shorelines. As water warms, walleye move to deeper water, found on sand and rock edges, piles, and shoals. The North Shore around North Bay is popular in spring, but mid-summer walleye can be found in places like the French River and South Bay. They love live bait like minnows, worms, and leeches, but are also caught with soft plastic baits and crankbaits.

Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are widespread on Nipissing, found in weeds, sand edges, rocky shorelines, and mid-lake shoals. Try casting dark-colored tube jigs, shallow diving crankbaits, or shiny spinners for bass ranging from 15 to 20 inches. Topwater poppers over rocky shoals elicit strikes from thick smallmouth when the water is calm.

Largemouth bass are less widespread but found in dense weed growth areas like Cache Bay, Callander Bay, South Bay, and West Bay. Specialists use weedless topwater and subsurface lures, crankbaits, and jigs to draw these fish from dense vegetation.

Northern Pike

These predators are found throughout Nipissing, patrolling the shallows in spring and waiting at drop-offs in summer. They hit a wide range of presentations, including flashy spoons, soft plastic jerk baits, and live bait and jig combinations. New regulations protect large pike: no fish over 86 centimeters and only one over 61 centimeters. Sport License holders can keep four fish; catch-and-release is unlimited.

Muskie

Muskie, like northern pike, are found throughout Nipissing, targeting baitfish along shallows, deeper shoals, and weed beds. The season opens in June, with the best fishing from August to November. Muskie hunters use big glide baits or crankbaits to catch fish averaging 40-50 inches. Nipissing is considered world-class for muskie fishing, with a healthy population and chances of catching a 50-inch monster.

Ice Fishing

Lake Nipissing thrives in winter, with hundreds of shacks spread across the ice. Outfitters offer accommodations in heated ice fishing bungalows with washrooms, bunk beds, barbecues, and kitchens. The season for walleye and perch opens January 1 and closes March 15, but whitefish, cisco, and burbot fishing continues until the end of March. Popular areas include Callander Bay, Deepwater Point, and South Bay.

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