Brought to you by Niagara Canada and The Co.
One of the most popular activities on a North American "bucket list" is to visit Niagara Falls, Canada, to explore the waterfalls and ride on a Hornblower Niagara Cruise. And no wonder! The falls really do live up to all the hype. But I'm going to be bold and suggest that there are other bodies of water around Niagara Canada that are equally worthy of exploration.
There's a reason why this part of Canada is referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World - there is so much to see and discover. And (no surprises here!) there's a reason why I'm so particularly fond of the Niagara River, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. It all starts with food!
The food in southern Ontario, and especially around the Niagara Region, is absolutely amazing. The micro climate of the region means milder winters and favorable conditions, the kind that coaxes finicky grapes and coddles delicate tomatoes. But while I love the fresh produce and local wine (and cheese..... and preserves.... and ciders.......) one of my absolute favourite things to eat in this region is the freshly caught fish.
Fresh fish is a favourite travel treat of mine. It's an easy and relatively affordable way to get acquainted with regional specialties and it's a healthy, filling alternative to a lot of my usual travel treats (you've heard about my obsession with cheese, right?)
But when it comes to fish, not all dishes are created equal. I'm a fussy fish eater and I really love it best when it's incredibly fresh and prepared in its simplest forms - pan fried, grilled, or done over the campfire. And in Niagara Canada - thousands of miles from my Maritime coastal roots - you can get freshly caught and expertly prepared fish nearly year-round thanks to a thriving fishing industry in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and even along the Niagara River. Of course, you COULD just go to the market and pick out a tasty specimen but I think for maximum fun you should head out and try your hand at catching some yourself!
Local fish around Niagara Canada, includes bass, walleye, salmon, perch (SO good in a fish fry!) and trout (Swoon! My absolute favourite). Niagara Fishing Adventures, led by Captain Aldo Nava, operates year-round and even in the colder months between October and March they catch steelhead trout along the lower Niagara River. If your sea legs are weak like mine, you can take heart in knowing they specialize in small groups and stable vessels. They're based in St. Catharines / Port Dalhousie and are just a short drive from Niagara Falls - about 20 minutes.
If you're looking to mix some frivolity in with your fishing, the community of Crystal Beach along the South Coast of Lake Erie offers traditional beach town attractions (ice cream! swimming! boardwalks!) Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and as such it offers excellent fishing, especially walleye and smallmouth bass that are legendary for being not that small at all. The waterfront park and boat launch are the perfect departing point for private boat rentals and it's close by to a number of Provincial Parks for overnight camping.
Another fantastic marina in Niagara Canada is Sugarloaf Marina in Port Colborne. It's just 20 to 30 minutes from Niagara Falls, the Peace Bridge, and Buffalo, New York. Equally popular with locals and visitors, the marina is home to 700 slips, laundry facilities, large showers, picnic spots with BBQs, and bike rentals. Port Colborne also boasts great bass and walleye fishing and is also home to some amazing scuba diving and shipwrecks.
It goes without saying that you're much better off viewing the shipwrecks than adding to them! Follow all of the marina and tour operators' recommendations (as well as the federal laws) for safety equipment and procedures, always leave a copy of your plans with a source on shore, and respect local fishing guidelines. (And don't forget to look into the required fishing license regulations - everyone needs one!)
If you've been following along with our blog for a while, you've noticed that southern Ontario is one of our favourite spots to write about. Admittedly it's not hard to win over my heart when food is involved, but the area truly has so much more than that and fishing is just the tip of the iceberg. (Wait. Icebergs? Bad analogy for boats!) Let's just say that between the fine dining, fine company, and fine fun, you'll be heading back for more again and again just like we do. When the 8th Wonder of the World is in your backyard, it's hard not to!
PS - Still not convinced you'll enjoy fishing? Check out my epic tale of ice fishing at nearby Lake Simcoe!