The fertile bays and lagoons of the Toronto Islands offer a wide variety of angling opportunities.
The islands are perhaps most revered for their northern pike. The shallow lagoons offer good fishing for small to medium-sized pike year-round, while much larger fish can be caught from shore early and late in the season. Casting with spoons, larger spinners, suspending minnowbaits and spinnerbaits takes the most fish, while live baits (especially large, live minnows) are also effective, especially when fished right on bottom. In warmer water, buzzbaits can sometimes be very productive.
The weedy shallows are also where to find good numbers of largemouth bass. The Islands are home to a healthy population of bucketmouths, which average about one pound and often approach three or four pounds. The same lures that work for pike early and late in the season will catch largemouth through the summer. Fishing slow and deep with plastic worms or weedless jigs is also effective.
Rocky shorelines, particularly those exposed to open water, hold smallmouth bass and rock bass. Jigs, spinners, surface baits and suspending minnowbaits are the most consistent producers, along with minnows, worms and leeches for live bait anglers.
Panfish and brown bullhead are extremely abundant in shallow, weedy bays. Bluegill, punkinseed and yellow perch are most abundant, with black crappie and white perch also frequently caught. Live baits under a delicate float work best, as do small spinners or jigs.
Lake Ontario is home to a large population of trophy carp, and the Islands offer excellent fishing opportunities for this species. Anglers willing to do a little walking to reach quieter waters are rewarded with excellent action and large fish.
Virtually any fish species found in Lake Ontario is liable to be found in and around the Toronto Islands at some point in the year, and anglers are often surprised by incidental catches that can include brown trout, rainbow trout, coho and chinook salmon, muskellunge, walleye, white bass, freshwater drum and channel catfish.
Most anglers access the Toronto Islands via the harbour ferries operated by the city of Toronto. Information on fares and operating schedules can be found online at www.torontoharbour.com/toronto-island-ferry The ferry docks at the foot of Yonge Street are well served by public transit; anglers who drive will find plenty of parking nearby, albeit at a price.
Anglers operating a boat in the Toronto Island lagoons are considered to be inside Toronto Harbour proper, which means they will require a special “harbour license,” more properly known as the Power Vessel Operator’s Permit. Information on this permit can be found online at www.torontoport.com/port_permits_intro.asp