Sharing the experiences, natural wonders, and culture of the Northwest Territories.

This post was originally published on the Spectacular Northwest Territories website.


Up North, you’ll catch plenty of fish – just be careful the fish don’t catch you. In fact, a few summers ago a fisherman on Great Bear Lake landed a trout that weighed a whopping 83 pounds. Huge, right? But really, it’s no wonder. Northern lakes have long been known to produce the largest sportfish on Earth. For the lowdown on the best fishing in the world, check out our fishing lodges and adventures. Here's what you might reel in:


Pretty pickerel

Racing down turbid creeks or lurking under sunken logs, the Northwest Territories' pickerel are among our bravest fighters. Also known as walleye, they often weigh more than four or five pounds and provide lean, snow-white flesh. 


Char off the charts

Brilliant-red Arctic char churn the waterways that pour into the Northwest Passage. We're home to some of the biggest char on Earth, tipping the scales at six pounds or more. They're fierce fighters – and mighty fine to eat. 


Trout as big as a whale

Lake Trout are the lords of Northern lakes, crushing the scales at 55 pounds or more. The profound, mysterious depths of Great Slave and Great Bear are the most famous hunting grounds for these beasts, but gargantuan trout can be found even in smaller lakes. Some anglers return year after year, seeking to break personal records – or maybe even the world record. 


Great grayling

Patrolling the clean, cold rivers of the mainland Northwest Territories, Arctic grayling are a sight to behold, boasting shimmering, iridescent scales and a sail-like dorsal fin. They're a favourite among fly-fishers, commonly weighing in at as much as two pounds.  


Peak pike

Slithering through the weeds in warm, shallow bays and lazy rivers, Pike put up a ferocious fight and make for a darn good shore lunch. In locales like the island-strewn North Arm of Great Slave Lake they grow to legendary size – 40 pounds or more.  


King coney

French for “unknown,” inconnu are in fact well-known in the Northwest Territories, where they're a popular sportfish. Common in the Mackenzie drainage, they have a dark back, silvery sides, large scales, and can reach 65+ pounds. A fat, oil-rich fish, they can be cooked like salmon, and are delicious smoked.


Whitefish, the right fish

A member of the salmon and trout family, whitefish are found throughout the Northwest Territories. They have narrow silvery bodies, a small head compared to their size, and average about two pounds. They're good fighters on a small fly or spinner and boast white flesh with a delicate, sweet flavor.


Dashing dolly varden


Dolly Varden is a fine looking fish that resembles a bull trout and can be found in the western Mackenzie Delta, along the northern slope of the Richardson Mountains and on the Peel River watershed. They can reach up to three pounds and will take imitation roe and pixie spoons.


Brave-hearted bull trout

Bull trout are found in the Liard and Mackenzie watersheds and the streams that flow out of the Mackenzie Mountains. Featuring dark backs and small red, orange, or yellow spots on the back and sides, bull trout average can reach up to six and a half pounds. They're aggressive battlers, and will take medium-size spinners, spoons, and flies.


Keen to land the catch of a lifetime? Explore Northwest Territories fishing

Related Posts

See more articles

Outdoor adventures across Indigenous Canada
glamping under the night sky
Best camping in Canada – with a twist
Northwest Territories
Learn more on the Spectacular Northwest Territories website
Learn more on the Visit Yellowknife website