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Pike Fishing in Lake Ontario: An Angler’s Paradise

Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes of North America, is a renowned destination for anglers seeking thrilling pike fishing experiences. Stretching over 7,300 square miles and bordering the United States and Canada, Lake Ontario offers a diverse and rewarding environment for catching Northern pike. With its vast waters, stunning scenery, and abundant fish population, Lake Ontario promises an unforgettable fishing adventure. In this article, we will explore the world of pike fishing in Lake Ontario, from the best locations to the necessary equipment and techniques.

The Pike of Lake Ontario

Northern pike, scientifically known as Esox lucius, are apex predators that inhabit the freshwater ecosystems of North America. Known for their aggression, strength, and impressive size, these fish have captivated anglers for generations. Lake Ontario, with its cold, clear waters, provides an ideal habitat for pike to thrive. Here, they can reach substantial sizes, often exceeding 40 inches and weighing over 20 pounds.

Best Locations for Pike Fishing

Lake Ontario’s immense size offers numerous hotspots for pike fishing, both on the American and Canadian sides. Here are some of the most productive locations to target these elusive predators:

Bay of Quinte, Ontario: This expansive bay is famous for its trophy-sized pike. The weed beds, rocky shorelines, and varied depths provide excellent cover and food sources for pike.

Thousand Islands Region, New York: The maze of islands, channels, and shoals in this area creates an ideal pike habitat. Casting around weed beds and rocky points is a surefire way to hook a big one.

Henderson Harbor, New York: Known for its clear waters and substantial pike population, this area offers great opportunities for trolling and casting for pike.

Oswego River, New York: The river’s warm-water discharge attracts pike year-round, making it a top choice for winter pike fishing.

Simcoe County, Ontario: Lake Simcoe, part of the Lake Ontario watershed, is home to some massive pike. Ice fishing here is especially popular during the winter months.

The Right Equipment

To successfully target Northern pike in Lake Ontario, you need the appropriate gear. Here’s a breakdown of the essential equipment:

Rods and Reels: Medium to heavy-action spinning or baitcasting rods with a length of 6.5 to 7.5 feet are suitable for pike fishing. Match them with a sturdy reel that can hold at least 150 yards of 20 to 30-pound test line.

Terminal Tackle: Steel leaders are a must when fishing for pike to prevent them from biting through your line. Use wire leaders of 12 to 18 inches in length with a test strength of 30 to 50 pounds.

Lures and Baits: Pike are voracious predators, and they’ll strike at a variety of lures and baits. Popular choices include large spoons, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastics. Live or dead baitfish like suckers or chubs are also effective.

Fishing Accessories: Don’t forget to bring essential items like needle-nose pliers, hook removers, and a reliable fish handling net to ensure a safe and efficient catch-and-release process.

Techniques for Pike Fishing

Now that you have the right equipment, let’s delve into some effective techniques for pike fishing in Lake Ontario:

Casting: Casting with artificial lures is a popular method for targeting pike. Focus on areas with submerged vegetation, rocky structures, and drop-offs. Retrieve your lure with erratic motions to mimic an injured baitfish, enticing pike to strike.

Trolling: Trolling is a productive technique, especially for covering larger areas of the lake. Use diving plugs or spoons at varying depths until you locate active pike. Once you find them, adjust your trolling speed and depth to maximize your success.

Ice Fishing: Winter pike fishing in Lake Ontario is a unique and thrilling experience. Set up in popular ice fishing locations, drill holes, and use tip-ups or jigging rods baited with live or dead minnows. Be sure to bundle up; it can get extremely cold on the ice!

Fly Fishing: If you’re an avid fly angler, you can also target pike on the fly in Lake Ontario. Large, flashy streamers imitating baitfish are your best bet. Cast near weed beds and retrieve with a strip-and-pause action to trigger strikes.

Conservation and Ethics

Responsible angling is crucial to the sustainability of pike populations in Lake Ontario. Here are some key conservation and ethical guidelines:

Catch and Release: Consider practicing catch and release for larger pike, as they often carry the genetics necessary for trophy-sized fish in the future.

Handle with Care: Treat all fish with respect. Use appropriate tools to handle pike and minimize stress to the fish. Wet your hands before touching them to protect their slime coat.

Respect Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations, including size and bag limits. Compliance is essential for the long-term health of the fishery.

Dispose of Trash Properly: Keep the lake clean by packing out all your trash and disposing of it properly.


Lake Ontario is a pike angler’s dream come true, offering a diverse range of locations, abundant fish populations, and breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re casting from the shoreline, trolling on a boat, or venturing onto the frozen lake in winter, the opportunities for pike fishing are boundless. Remember to respect the environment, follow ethical angling practices, and savor every moment you spend on this incredible freshwater gem. Pike fishing in Lake Ontario is not just a sport; it’s an immersive experience that connects you with the beauty of the great outdoors and the thrill of the chase.