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Ice Fishing on Lake Nipissing (A Helpful Guide)

Ice Fishing on Lake Nipissing (A Helpful Guide)

Lake Nipissing is undoubtedly one of Ontario’s finest ice fishing waters, harboring many species and plenty of really productive fishing spots. While the lake is known for its excellent walleye fishery, there are plenty of other species to target through the ice as well.

I’ve talked to Strike and Catch’s Canadian predator expert Andre Charron, who has fished the lake all his life and asked him for his best Lake Nipissing ice fishing tips and tricks. 

This article will tell you everything you need to know about ice fishing on Lake Nipissing, including detailed information about:

  • target species
  • locations
  • fishing methods
  • gear tips
  • ice fishing charters and ice house rentals
  • fishing regulations and licenses

So, if you’re looking for a fantastic ice fishing adventure on Lake Nipissing and everything that’s needed for a successful day on the ice, all you have to do is keep reading.

What Fish Can You Catch Ice Fishing on Lake Nipissing?

While the lake is primarily known for its superb walleye fishing, it is also home to other exciting game fish. 

Let’s take a closer look at the species you can target through the ice: 

Walleye

a happy ice angler with a lake nipissing ice walleye
Courtesy of Andre Charron

Lake Nipissing is filled with walleye of varying sizes and offers an excellent year-round fishing experience for this target species.

The average Lake Nipissing walleye will weigh somewhere between 2 and 4lb. 

But as the water is so big and there is plenty of forage, fish of up to 10lb and 30 inches are a definite possibility! 

How to catch them

Use a medium-heavy ice rod and a size 1000 to 2000 spinning reel with a 12lb test braid and an 8-15lb fluorocarbon leader. 

Lures that produce a lot of walleye bites on Nipissing include:

  • Roundhead jigs
  • Fireball jigs
  • Rapala jigging raps

ANDRE’S PRO TIP: 1/4 – 3/8 oz round head jigs with a minnow are king during the winter!

Northern Pike

a happy ice angler on lake nipissing holding a nice northern pike
Courtesy of Andre Charron

The lake is home to a large pike population, and there are some really fat fish among to be caught here!

Due to the abundance of food, most Nipissing pike are round, well-fed fish that can get pretty heavy. 

While their average size is somewhere between 20 and 30 inches and 4 to 8lb, monster pike of over 40 inches and well over 15lb have been caught through the ice here. 

So, you better make sure to bring appropriate gear and tackle! 

How to catch them

You can target pike both with the jig rod and the tip-up, as the fish generally respond well to both lures and bigger dead or live baits. 

Use 25-30lb braid as your mainline, and don’t forget to use a thick fluorocarbon leader of at least 40lb for your lures and a strong quick-strike rig for your live or dead baits.

Productive lures for Lake Nipissing pike include:

  • Rapala Jigging Rap
  • Rapala Slab Rap
  • Yo-Zuri 3DB Vibe

If you want to go with natural baits, try one of the following dead or live alternatives:

  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Shiners
  • Chubs
  • Fathead minnows

Perch

a bunch of ice fished yellow perch from lake nipissing
Courtesy of Andre Charron

Much like a few other lakes in Ontario, Lake Nipissing is home to plenty of perch. Not a small number of them can reach a pretty good size, and quite a few anglers come to the lake every winter to target perch specifically.

The average-sized perch will have a length of 8 to 12 inches and a weight of about 0.5 to 1lb. However, many of the lake’s bigger fish can quickly reach a size of 15 or more inches and a maximum weight of around 1.5lb. 

How to catch them

You can target perch with a light jigging rod and a size 1000 reel, using a braided mainline of around 10lb and a thin fluorocarbon leader of 6-8lb. 

The lighter you dare to go, the more fun you’ll have on the rod. Just be ready for the occasional pike. They’re known to hit your perch lures pretty hard at times!

Some of the best lures for Lake Nipissing perch include:

  • Northland Forage Minnow
  • Lindy Perch Talker (tipped with a maggot or nightcrawler!)

Whitefish

a fisherman on the ice holding a big Nipissing whitefish
Courtesy of Shawn Cheng

The whitefish, or tullibee, is another abundant species of Lake Nipissing, and as they move around the water in small schools, it’s possible to catch a good bunch of them on a good day of fishing. 

Also, these salmonid fish make for an excellent table fare. And so, both the fact that they taste delicious and that you can expect quite a few bites makes them a pretty cool target fish on Lake Nipissing! 

On average, Nipissing whitefish will weigh 2 to 4lb, but fish over 8lb are caught every season.

How to catch them

Target them close to the bottom in the deeper areas of the lake. Use the same setup as perch, but with a medium-light ice rod, instead of a light one. 

Some solid picks when it comes to lures for whitefish on Lake Nipissing include:

  • Neo hair rigs
  • Badd boyz jigs

Burbot

a big burbot lying on the ice on Lake Nipissing
Courtesy of Susan Sponga

The burbot is a somewhat less popular fish species that many anglers nonetheless target on Lake Nipissing.

This fish is both good table fare and known to get pretty large in this lake.

Most Nipissing burbot will weigh between 4 and 8lb, but fish well over 12lb are being caught every season.

In fact, in 2021, an angler from King City (Ontario) visited the lake and managed to hook up to a giant burbot of 17lb 10oz! That, my friends, is what you call a behemoth! 

How to catch them

Much like whitefish, the lake’s burbot will be found in the deeper areas of the lake. Try fishing with heavier lures that you can thump on the bottom to get the burbot’s attention, especially when fishing in low-light conditions. 

Proven lures for Nipissing burbot include: 

  • Trout’n pout spoons
  • Glow-in-the-dark jigheads

Both should be tipped with smaller whole or half minnows! 

Where Is the Best Ice Fishing on Lake Nipissing?

There are plenty of really productive fishing spots all over Lake Nipissing. Still, many local anglers agree that the areas around Calander Bay, Smith Island, and off Nipissing Beach and Deep Bay in the southeastern part of the lake are real hot spots.

Here, you have the chance of catching all of the five species mentioned above, and often plenty of them!

So, if you’ve never fished Lake Nipissing, it can be a smart move to target these areas first. 

If you want to target walleye specifically, you should give the vast walleye grounds near Blueberry Island off the southern shoreline a good try!

And by vast, I do mean enormous, as the grounds stretch all the way to Goose Island, which is the small island group opposite Blueberry Island in the middle of the lake.

The area outside of Blueberry Island, near the mouth of the Fench River, is also the deepest point of the lake (approximately 60m).

If you’re after another great pike spot, you can check out Cache Bay in the northwestern part of Lake Nipissing. This area is frequented by large perch schools, which the pike like to follow into the bay area.

Another productive perch area can be found between the Manitou Islands and North Bay in the eastern part of Lake Nipissing. It’s a huge area with plenty of perch flats. 

When Can You Go Ice Fishing on Lake Nipissing?

The ice fishing season on Lake Nipissing stretches from January 1st to March 15th. 

PRO TIP: Make sure ALWAYS to check the current ice condition and thickness before heading out, especially during first and last ice. You can find out more information on this topic further down in this article. 

Where Is Lake Nipissing Located?

Lake Nipissing is located in the Canadian province of Ontario, approximately 50km east of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, and has a total surface area of 873 sq km, making it a pretty massive water body. 

The biggest cities and towns close to Lake Nipissing include:

  • North Bay
  • Callander
  • Sturgeon Falls
  • Garden Village
  • Cache Bay
  • Lavigne

And here is how long you’ll have to drive to get to Lake Nipissing from some of Ontario’s major cities:

  • Sudbury: 172km
  • Toronto: 293km
  • Ottawa: 331km
  • Montreal: 490km

Does Lake Nipissing Have a Night Bite?

a fisherman ice fishing for burbot at night on lake nipissing
Courtesy of John Peter Seelye

Even though Lake Nipissing doesn’t have the best visibility, you can have pretty decent nighttime fishing for burbot and walleye.

Burbot are known to be active at night during the winter, so catching them after dark can often be relatively easy on Lake Nipissing. 

Walleye, on the other hand, can be trickier. If you decide to target them in the dark, try to do so on nights with a clear sky and a full moon, as the extra light shining in through the ice hole tends to attract the fish. 

Best Ice House Rentals on Lake Nipissing

Here are some reliable contacts if you want to head out with a local guide or need to rent an ice house on Lake Nipissing. 

Please note that virtually all of them are located along the southeastern shoreline of the lake!

Bam’s Tours

Phone

(705) 840-3435

Email

bamstours@outlook.com

Fish Bay Marina

Address

502 Lake Nipissing Road

Nipissing, Ontario

P0H 1W0, Canada

Phone

705-724-3130

1-855-724-3130

Cell: 705-825-FISH (3474)

Chilly Willy’s Ice Fishing Adventures

Address

143 Sandy Bay Rd 

Callander, Ontario

P0H 1H0, Canada

Phone

1-705-477-3076

Ice Fishing Gear Tips for Lake Nipissing

two fishermen and their ice fishing gear on lake nipissing
Courtesy of Shawn Cheng

If you decide to head out on your own and need to gear up, this section of the article might be helpful to you. 

Bringing the right equipment onto the ice with you is extremely important and can make all the difference, both with regard to your fishing success and comfort.

All of the items below can be found on Amazon if you want to take a closer look:

Best Bait and Tackle Shops Near Lake Nipissing

North Bay Outfitters

Address

130 Lakeshore Dr,

North Bay, Ontario

P1A 2A8, Canada

Phone

+1 705-840-0273

Hours

Monday-Saturday: 10 am-4 pm

Billy Bob’s Bait

Address 

1370 Lakeshore Dr

North Bay, Ontario

P1B 8Z4, Canada

Phone

+1 705-474-2248

Hours

Monday-Thursday: 9 am-6 pm

Friday-Saturday: 7 am-7 pm

Sunday: 7 am-5 pm

Fishing Regulations for Lake Nipissing

Lake Nipissing is part of Ontario’s Fisheries Management Zone 11 (FMZ11).

For detailed information about seasons and limits for all fish species mentioned above, please visit the Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary

Where Can You Buy a Fishing License for Lake Nipissing?

You will need an Ontario fishing license to ice fish on Lake Nipissing.

Please visit the Ontario Fishing section to get more detailed information on license types and fees.

You will always have to purchase an Ontario Outdoors Card together with your fishing license.

How Thick Is the Ice on Lake Nipissing?

For weekly updates on ice thickness and condition on various Ontario waters, please visit the Northern Ontario Travel Magazine’s Ice Fishing in Ontario Report.

PRO TIP: If there isn’t any recent ice update to be found online, please make sure always to contact one of the local charters, rentals, lodges, or tackle shops to get the latest information on ice conditions and safety! 

Best Lake Nipissing Ice Fishing Forums

There are a couple of really big, informative, and friendly Lake Nipissing fishing forums out there on the internet. They have thousands of members who share their latest catches, pictures, ice reports, and experiences with each other.

These forums can be extremely valuable for anglers who’ve never fished the lake before.

So, if you have an hour or so to spare during the weekend, make sure to join them to get the latest updates, tips, and tricks:

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Featured image courtesy of Shawn Cheng

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