Nobody knows the rivers in Ontario like we do. Just try us!
The Bighead River
The Bighead River gets its start out of the vast catchment area of the Grey highlands of the Niagara Escarpment and winds its way through several small tributaries from Holland Centre to the main stem just north of Markdale. The Bighead is a consummate small steelhead river with a 100% self-sustaining population. For the fly fisher who appreciates the nuances of a small stream with large fish, the Bighead was made you. Pocket water and tight pools make up most of the lower sector with the upper reaches being more subdued due to lack of gradient. The upper end, downstream of St. Vincent-Sydenham Town Line makes up the majority of wintering water for the more than 3000 steelhead that return annually.
The Credit River
With its head waters coming out of the heights of the Caledon hills and beyond, the upper Credit River is a cold water system with a healthy, self-sustaining population of brook trout and brown trout. Reminiscent of the classic Catskill streams, the upper Credit is a challenging fishery with great reward. Mayfly, caddis and stoneflies head line the hatch charts and due to its cold water influences, she gives up trophy trout well into the summer.
As she winds her way to the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment and flattens out, the Credit becomes one of the greatest urban fisheries in our province. Approximately 3000 steelhead annually return to the lower river where two separate but equally productive sectors are open until December 31st with the lower sector remaining open all year. Despite its proximity to Toronto, the lower river runs through some beautiful green spaces maintaining the illusion that one is far from the city.
The Grand River
The Grand River might be the crown jewel in southern Ontario. Draining approximately 6500 km2 and traveling 280 km from its source in the highlands of Dufferin County, the Grand is home to 72 known species of fish. For the sportsman it has everything. Above Belwood Lake the river is mainly a warm water system with a healthy smallmouth bass population but it is downstream of Belwood Lake that has given the Grand her reputation. Due to a retrofit on the Shand Dam, a tailwater was created providing excellent trout habitat. Subsequent stocking has made for one of the best brown trout fisheries in the east. The perfect combination of heavy mayfly and caddis hatches and large, healthy browns makes it a true, blue ribbon river.
The middle sector through Kitchener to the bottom end of Brantford is home to both course fish and trout. Steelhead that use Whitmans Creek and The Nith River for spawning and nursery but travel the main stem from Dunnville on Lake Erie to the town of Paris where further migration is prohibited due to an impassable dam. In terms of both numbers and the quality of fish, the Grand River is considered one of the most significant steelhead fisheries in the east but despite this, the river receives little pressure. As a bonus but not to be trivialized, the sector through the town of Paris is also home to a unique, semi-resident population or rainbow trout. These fish are unique in that the science doesn’t provide a solid reason for them being there but for all intents and purposes, these fish are reluctant steelhead that simply enjoys life with the cold water seep found through that reach and more than abundant insect base. Whether these fish eventually leave the river for the big lake or are a true, resident population is up for debate but one thing is sure; they are the most electric, hardest fighting rainbows in the country and provide angling opportunities well into the fall.
Above and below Paris, smallmouth bass take centre stage. From Kitchener to the mouth, dense populations make it possible to take upwards of 40 fish a day making a great starting point for new fly fishers. Trophy smallmouth bass are abundant from Cambridge to the Grand’s mouth and all manners of presentation will work but for sheer enjoyment, surface patterns will provide the icing on the cake.
No matter your preference, wading in a big, brawling river and spey casting a two hander or finessing wily trout with a three weight rising to blue winged olives on a still morning, the Grand has it.
The Sauble River
The Sauble River might be the most reliable steelhead river in our region as it is one of the few systems unaffected by agriculture, giving her banks more stability and providing very good opportunities when everything else in the region is un-fishable due to high water. With its source just west of Desboro, the Sauble winds its way to Sauble Beach and is greatly varied in size and character. The relatively short section below Sauble Falls is the most productive for steelhead and provides wonderful water to fish from a drift boat. This sector is also a 12 month fishery when weather is cooperative.
The Saugeen River
The Saugeen River and its tributaries make for one of the largest and most diverse systems in the region. Winding through a mixture of pastoral forest, towns and farm land, The Saugeen is as beautiful as it is productive with resident trout, steelhead, smallmouth bass and muskie head lining her list of species and all types of water with which to ply our trade.
The upper reaches above the town of Hanover vary in width and depth from wide, quiet glides to densely covered narrow creeks that offer technical fishing for browns, rainbows and brook trout. Below Hanover, as the rivers increases in size and gives way to warmer temperatures, the resident trout gradually are replaced by an unrivalled smallmouth fishery where three pound fish and larger are common!
Even with all it has to offer, steelhead remain the glamour fish of the Saugeen River. With runs in excess of 20 000 fish annually, the Saugeen remains one of the top rivers in the east with over 100 kms of access from the last Saturday in April to September 30th and 80 kms available until the end of December. With every style of water you can dream of from swift gradient pocket water to long, classic runs, the Saugeen accommodates everyone from the high stick enthusiast to the more traditional two handed swingers.
The Maitland River
The Maitland River and her tributaries stretch across western Ontario but eventually drain into Huron at the Town of Goderich. Known mainly for steelhead and an unrivalled smallmouth fishery, the Maitland is considered by many to be one of the most picturesque rivers in the region. With a deep and dense riparian zone from the town of Wingham to her mouth, the Maitland’s reputation for tranquility and beauty is well deserved but she is also a productive river receiving upwards of 5000 wild steelhead annually.
As mentioned, the summer also provides an outstanding bass fishery from the shore or via water craft. With a solid mix of densely populated nursery areas and trophy water, the Maitland is a mecca for the new fly fisher and the expert alike.
These systems headline GRO guiding but we also utilize approximately 10 other rivers when required or requested such as The Bayfield, Beaver, Bronte Creek, Ganaraska, Nine Mile, , Nottawasaga, The Niagara and The Sydenham. Typically GRO guides will make recommendations based on conditions but if there is a system that you wish to learn, we will have a guide that will show it to you.