Get Hooked on Fishing in Greenstone

Story by Kim Latimer, Photos by Gord Ellis

The image of the fly fisherman is perhaps the most nostalgic and peaceful in fishing: chest waders on, thigh-high in the water, line elegantly sweeping overhead before it lands softly onto a rolling river. It’s exactly the sort of image we see in Northwestern Ontario’s prime fishing area, Greenstone.

In fact, the area is becoming known as the ideal place to escape from it all and try the fly. Located less than 200 miles from the Pigeon River Canadian border crossing and about three hours northeast of Thunder Bay, the Municipality of Greenstone is a “well-kept secret hot spot for fishing” says Gord Ellis, renowned Northwestern Ontario outdoor journalist.

Gord Ellis with a Greenstone Brook Trout

Gord Ellis with a Greenstone Brook Trout

“It’s really amazing,” he adds. “My whole family has all been fly fishing in the northern area up into the Albany River, where there is world-class fly fishing. There are a few outfitters up there that will fly you into the best rivers, and you can also fly fish in lakes for pike, walleye, and whitefish.”

The area is also well-known for it’s good stocking programs for brook trout, splake, and rainbow trout, which are stocked in accessible lakes fed by fresh waterways. “Greenstone has trout creeks—lots of them,” says Ellis. “Most of them don’t have a lot of pressure on them and are pretty much untouched so you can have whole creek or river to yourself. Some of the walleye lakes are busier, but nothing compared to Minnesota. I’ve been talking about going out there this spring to fish for splake, brook trout, and rainbows.”

“The neat thing about fly fishing is that it’s very quiet,” he adds. “It’s a slower pace, and a little more relaxed. You are letting the fly float on the surface and it’s a different kind of fishing, and you can catch really big fish on flies like huge 20-pound pike.” And if you like the idea of packing lightly, that’s another benefit of trying fly fishing. “It doesn’t require a lot of gear,” Ellis explains. “There’s a lot of advantage to casting from a canoe, kayak or the bank of a river.”

For Americans wanting to explore the area, it’s an ideal time. “The American dollar is unreal and [the outfitters] are seeing their lodges getting booked sooner,” says Brent Henley, Tourism Coordinator in Greenstone. “It’s a great time to take advantage of the dollar.”

The area also has the advantage of easy access to smaller communities in the northwest who have been supplying anglers for decades. “One of the things that people don’t realize is that there are lots of amenities,” says Ellis. “There’s grocery stores, hotels, crown land camping, and campgrounds. It’s got everything you need.”

If you’re curious about trying your hand at fly fishing, and you truly seek a place to get away from it all, the Greenstone experience is authentically peaceful. Ellis says, “It’s almost like an outdoors fishing frontier area. It’s just one of those places that is like a best kept secret.”