As the largest lake in southern Ontario, outside of the Great Lakes, Lake Simcoe provides some of the most sought after angling opportunities in Ontario in all four seasons; however, it is best known for its winter ice fishery. It hosts a fish community made up of close to 50 fish species! The most prominent fish species angled through the ice include: Yellow Perch, Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Lake Herring (Cisco) and Northern Pike. Less targeted species include Ling (Burbot), Black Crappie, Walleye and even Rainbow Smelt.
Yellow perch is one of the most popular species harvested in the recreational fishery, both in the open-water and the winter fisheries. Lake Simcoe has long been recognized for its quality smallmouth bass fishery, and is a preferred destination for those anglers seeking trophy sized smallmouth. Other warmwater species are targeted to a lesser degree. There is a significant commercial baitfish industry that focuses on the emerald shiner population.
The lake contains two major bays (Kempenfelt and Cooks) and one large central basin. The islands of any size are Fox and Snake Islands at the southern end; Strawberry, Grape and Whitney Islands at the northern end, and Thorah and Georgina Islands to the east. At the northern end , the Lake connects to the smaller Lake Couchiching through the Narrows at Atherley. Lake Simcoe forms part of the Trent Canal system, which joins Eastern Lake Ontario with Georgian Bay by linking the Kawartha Lakes system with Lake Couchiching and the Severn River.
Kempenfelt Bay, with a maximum depth of 135 feet is the deepest area in Lake Simcoe. Cook’s Bay, located within the southern portion of the lake reaches a maximum depth of 49 feet.
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Lake Simcoe can be classified as a mesotrophic lake containing deep, coldwater habitat throughout Kempenfelt Bay and within its main basin. Warmwater, eutrophic habitat exists within Cooks Bay. Due to the invasive zebra mussel, Lake Simcoe is known for its ultra clear water with over 15 to 20 feet of visibility. Yellow perch and Northern Pike are the main targets of the shallow water fishery from Virginia Beach to Beaverton, in Cook's Bay and also adjoining Lake Couchiching.
Over 140,000 Lake Whitefish fingerlings are stocked annually offering an abundant put and take fishery. Within Lake Simcoe, this bottom feeding fish averages between 3 to 5 pounds but can reach sizes in excess of 7 pounds. Anglers are also reporting increased catches of wild whitefish. Yellow perch and northern pike populations remain stable thanks to successful reproduction.
Those looking for Lake trout or Whitefish should fish the deeper waters out from Georgina Island and within the main lake basin itself. Kempenfelt Bay and the various shoals all over the lake are key area's for both Lake Trout and Whitefish. Seasoned anglers are reporting increased catches of wild lake trout, in response, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has begun reducing its Lake Trout stocking numbers from 100,000 to 50,000 fingerlings per year to enable and further promote natural reproduction of a wild, sustainable population.
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Lake Simcoe is an attractive destination for its fantastic Yellow Perch fishery where anglers can catch 13" to 14" jumbo's and regularly bring home their daily limit of 25 to 50 fish in one day. Yellow Perch can be sought throughout the winter season and can be found in many easily accessible spots throughout the lake.
In addition, we ask that you follow Ontario's current fishing regulations for Zone 16. Check out our Artificial and Live Bait pages for the hottest, newest and best baits for hardwater fishing on all the popular gamefish species in Lake Simcoe.