20 years experience
One of Ontario’s best trout and steelhead rivers.
Fishing The Credit River
The upper Credit River is my home river and my specialty. In fact, my very first cast with a fly rod over 35 years ago was made in this section of the Credit River seen in the picture.
Although there are good numbers of wild brook trout, brown trout and some resident rainbows, this is a very technical river with weary wild trout and therefore many anglers find it difficult catching big trout here.
The OMNR along with some local fishing clubs have also been stocking Atlantic salmon in large numbers with some Chinook salmon, steelhead and migratory brown trout in the lower stretches of the river.
There are a few dams on this river that make it impossible for the steelhead and salmon. This means there is very little natural reproduction of steelhead or salmon. There are NO steelhead or salmon up river of the Norval dam which is just north of Hwy 7.
There are a few tributary rivers on the credit where the steelhead are allowed access by the OMNR so the steelhead can reproduce naturally there but the numbers are limited. Because the OMNR will not allow the steelhead to have access to the upper river, the numbers of steelhead that enter the river from the lake are lower in comparison to other rivers.
The brown trout section starts in the headwaters below the Belfountain falls on the west fork, and the Cataract falls on the east fork. The angler in the picture above is fishing up the east fork close to the falls. The brown trout can reside all the way to Georgetown with less numbers the further down the river you go. Further up the river the colder the water stays and the further down you go the river widens and warms up to much for any trout to survive, especially during July to September.
With the proper techniques and knowing were to go it’s possible to hook a few brown trout over 20 inches in one day but it’s never easy. Most anglers are lucky to land a brown trout over 14 inches and rarely see brown trout over 20 inches.
A former client once told me that before he was taught the most effective ways to target the large brown trout on the Credit river by me, he was catching 6 to 10 trout a day and if he was lucky he would only catch one big one over 20 inches a year. Now, after I guided him, and taught him how to fish for these big wild brown trout he is averaging about 30 trout a day with a big one on the line most days.
There are some sections where fishing is easier so read on.
Not only are there large brown trout over 20 inches, there are also brook trout over 3 pounds and some resident rainbows over 20 inches. I’ve seen pictures of brook trout over 5 pounds.
The bulk of the brook trout reside from the Forks Of the Credit and up. The east fork below the Belfountain falls seams to have a higher population of brook trout but is very rugged terrain and can be very difficult to fish and walk. The angler in the picture is fishing some of the easier water in this section. The west fork has less flow than the east fork but it stays colder and clearer.
Much of the land is conservation lands so access is good. THIS IS ALL CATCH AND RELEASE REGULATIONS, despite seeing guys keeping fish and using bait and multiple hooks ( see the regulations before you go)
Once you get above the falls on the west fork there is no brown trout and is primarily a brook trout and rainbow trout fishery. The OMNR may stock small 3 to 6 inch Atlantic salmon in this stretch. Access may be difficult in some of this stretch but you could potentially fish all the way to the town of Erin for brook trout.
Above the falls on the east fork is just brook trout, no browns or rainbows.
The upper river from the town of Inglewood up river can have predictable hatches, great scenery and easy to read water which makes this a fun section for experienced trout anglers.
If you’re a less experienced angler and you want an easier section the brook trout sections above the two falls (one up each fork) can have decent numbers of hungry brook trout that are easier to catch than the bigger wiser brown trout.
If you want to see what the upper credit river fishing and scenary is like watch as Graham and Collin Mckeown of The New Fly Fisher Show fish the upper credit river together and land 1 of 3 big browns that were over 20 inches.
Earlier that morning before the film crew arrived Graham guided his client to a 25″ brown trout which is seen in this picture below. Watch The Full Show HERE
Thanks to catch and release only and special regulations in the upper sections there’s still some big fish in the upper sections and I can put you in front of some of the biggest fish in the river. Check the regulation in the exceptions to the rules section of zone 16 before you go fish the upper river.
From the mouth of the Credit river where the average width is around 50 feet wide to the headwaters, the Credit River has many different types of water from fast rapid sections with boulders and pocket water to meandering meadows.
The lower river gets huge runs of big chinook salmon and coho salmon and also has some large migratory brown trout. Despite stocking millions of Atlantic salmon into this river there are very few returning.
The lower sections of the Credit River offer good steelhead fishing from October to May. Most of my guiding in this section is done in November, December, March, and April.
The lower sections of the river run through the large city of Mississauga and can get pretty busy at times. There are extended fall fishing sections and year round open sections in the lower rivers.
All methods of fishing are suitable in the lower section and you will likely see lots of angler fishing with centerpin or fly rods.
If you want to see what the lower river is like on video watch as I guide Bil Spicer and the crew from The New Fly Fisher TV show by boat for spring Steelhead.
A River In Decline – It is my opinion that although this river has so much potential to be both a great steelhead river and a great trout river it has been poorly managed by the OMNR and is now in decline.
The OMNR will not allowing steelhead access to the upper river which prevents the steelhead numbers from ever reaching their full potential and the OMNR is also recommending the removal of all the naturalized wild brown trout in hope that the brook trout populations will recover.
This river has the potential for a steelhead run over 20,000 a year but with current restrictions from the OMNR the steelhead runs on this river are probably around 6,000 or less. Considering how many anglers that fish this river that number is pathetic. Instead of putting money into improving the dam in Norval, a reconstruction of a dam or another barrier in the Boston Mills area would have allowed steelhead to access better spawning water and still allowed segregation of the resident trout species and the Migratory species which could have greatly benefited all anglers and the fish.
The current state of the river has also seen the brown trout numbers in the upper river diminishing and anglers are finding the fishing for them tougher each year. With better management this could be one of the best trout rivers in Ontario but instead it is in decline and not only that the ONMR has proposed to remove the brown even more by removing the catch and relase section and promoting the harvest of all brown trout. This is opposite to what other successful rivers programs are doing and makes no sense.
Millions of Atlantic salmon have also been stocked in the upper river over the last 6 or so years. These altlantic salmon directly compete for food and space with both the brown trout and brook trout which are both now in decline. Along with potentially ruining the brown trout and brook trout fishery the adult salmon don’t seam to be returning in any numbers, and for many years the OMNR is usually only transferring less than 50 adult salmon over the dams which clearly shows this program is not working. In comparison, if they stocked the same amount of steelhead instead of atlantic salmon, this river would likely be the best steelhead in Ontario now.
The river also struggles with urban sprawl with the town of Orangeville which is the headwaters of the east branch of the Credit river. What was once a thriving brook trout river above the Cataract falls is now almost void of brook trout in some sections. A combination of unhealthy outflow from the the sewage treatment plant, the run off from the streets, fields and subdivisions, the use of ground water, farm run off, and pollution combined with our warming environment and extra warm and dry summers has seen brook trout populations on the decline throughout much of that stretch of river.
Although brook trout are declining in areas of this river where brown trout do not exist, the OMNR still believes that it’s the brown trout that are responsible for the decline of the brook trout populations and not the current enviromental conditions, and they have recommended to remove the brown trout from the river. Instead of focusing on stream rehab to bring the health of the river back so the brook trout can come back where they once thrived without competition from brown trout, the OMNR is wasting their time and tax payers dollars on doing studies to prove that removing the brown trout, which may be the only self sustaining trout in this whole river, is what is needed to bring the brook trout back and make the fishing better.
Also, In areas down river where brook trout used to reside, an where brown trout thrive, the water temps are may now be to warm for brook trout survival. Therefore, Removing brown trout as the OMNR has proposed, and with an already declining brook trout population due to the worsening environment might mean this river may have far fewer trout than ever before in all areas. Can brook trout survive in this lower section, is it risky to remove the brown trout just to see what happens? Until the OMNR gives their head a shake this river will be in decline and will continue to get worse and not better. The good news is the biologist responsible for managing the upper river has now retired so maybe the OMNR will replace him with someone with some actual common sense and brains.
What can you do to help, Contact the Greg Clark chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Credit Valley Conservation authority and express your concerns. These two organizations have a say on what goes on before the OMNR makes any stupid decisions. Tell them the need to leave the catch a release section in place and that before they implement the removal of brown trout they need to be sure both the water temperatures and river environment is suitable for brook trout to flourish. Or keep it simple and just tell them you’re happy with a brown trout fishery below the falls and a brook trout only fishery above the falls and that they need to focus on preserving that.
Of course this all purely my opinion and the opinion of many others I speak with, but I’m on this river sometimes 7 days a week for months and it’s clear there is a decline in all trout species