Fishing in Yellowknife

Fish are abundant in Northern Frontier. Just stop at the side of the road and try your luck with a spoon or a Mepps. You don't need bait. But please purchase a licence before you go fishing, and follow the catch limits for each type and area; our fish grow slowly in long winters, and small lakes have only a few. Fishing licenses, as well as regulation information, are available through many local outfitters and stores.

Guided Fishing Trips

A number of experienced fishermen are resident of Yellowknife and able to take you on an expedition of your choice to catch a fish, any time of the year.

For a listing of fishing guides, please select "Fishing" from our

Acquiring a Fishing License in Yellowknife

A sport fishing licence is required by everyone except:

  • NWT and Canadian residents under the age of 16 or 65 years of age and over, unless fishing in an area that requires an additional validation.
  • Non-resident anglers under the age of 16 who are accompanied by a person holding a valid sport fishing licence, unless they are fishing in an area that requires an additional validation.

NWT Resident Licence Fee: $10 per season
Canadian Resident Licence Fee: $20 per season, $15 for three days
Non-Resident Licence Fee: $40 per season, $30 for three days

You must carry your signed and validated licence while fishing, and be able to produce it at the request of an officer. "Sport Fishing" means fishing for pleasure and not for sale or barter and may include angling, spear fishing and dip netting. It is an offence to waste any game fish that is suitable for food. Live fish cannot be used for bait. Live fish or fish eggs cannot be put into NWT waters. The use of barbless hooks for sport fishing is mandatory in the NWT.

Species of Fish in Yellowknife

Arctic Grayling: Grayling are found throughout the mainland area of the NWT. It is particularly common in the Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake watersheds as well as the Mackenzie River and its tributaries.

Inconnu: Inconnu, more common in the Mackenzie Delta, migrate upstream into the Peel, Arctic Red, and Mackenzie rivers to spawn. Inconnu can be found in Great Slave Lake and tributary streams such as the Slave and Buffalo Rivers where they spawn.

Lake Trout: Lake Trout are wide-spread in the NWT and inhabit large, deep lakes such as Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, where they support trophy fisheries. They are found in many Shield Country lakes as well as deep lakes along the Mackenzie River Valley and tundra lakes extending to the Arctic Coast.

Northern Pike: Pike can be found throughout the mainland NWT. They prefer warm, slow, heavily vegetated rivers and the warm, weedy bays of lakes.

Walleye: Walleye are found in the Mackenzie River watershed as far north as the Delta. They are often plentiful in tributary streams of Great Slave Lake where they spawn and are sometimes found feeding throughout the summer. They are also found in some inland lakes and rivers.

Lake Whitefish: Whitefish are found throughout the mainland area of the NWT. They occur in lakes but also are found in large rivers and are plentiful in the Mackenzie Delta. Spawning takes place in the fall over reefs in lakes and rivers.

Best Fishing Spots in Yellowknife

Everybody has their own favourite fishing spot. Here are some of the easily accessible lakes and rivers you can try your luck.

The Yellowknife River bridge on the Ingraham Trail features a day use picnic site and a boat launch. Pike and sometimes lake trout are caught here by casting from the shore. Rent a boat and cruise upriver in to a quiet spot and troll as you drift back down. Keep an eye out for a variety of songbirds and perhaps a bald eagle nesting beside the river.

Pontoon Lake on the Ingraham Trail is a medium sized lake well suited to a quiet paddle. Shallow and weedy in places, it's home for pike and a variety of ducks, loons and terns. Beaver, muskrat, and even weasels can be seen in the quieter corners. There's a day use picnic site with boat launch here, or you can try your luck from the rocks by the highway.

Prelude Lake, about 29 km from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail, is the site of a major campground, with picnic sites, scenic trails, and a boat launch. Head away from the cottages to any group of rocky uninhabited islands and try your luck. Your likely catch will be a hungry pike. Prosperous Lake is another large, deep coldwater lake, prime habitat for Lake Trout and migrating Pike.

Walsh Lake, about 10 km from Yellowknife and half an hour by boat from the Vee Lake boat launch, is a large, deep, wilderness lake which can turn dangerous with a shift in the wind. Careful boaters will find gorgeous views, pike, and perhaps even a trout or two in its cold waters. Walsh's rocky shores offer good camping and exploring.

In larger lakes in Northern Frontier you'll find feisty and tasty Lake Trout. If it's size you want, the big ones range from about 12 pounds in medium sized lakes to over 60 pounds in Great Slave Lake. They feed near the surface in spring and fall when the water is colder, at the bottom in mid-summer. Trolling with a small boat is the best way to catch them, though fly fishing is gaining popularity. Take a picture and please put that big one back to catch again! Popular lures are called daredevil, five of diamonds, wobblers and spinners.

Please visit the website for more information on NWT fish species and sport fishing regulations.