Fishing for fun and for food is a traditional Inuit family activity that takes place on both open and frozen waters in every season of the year except winter. Crisscrossed with numerous fast flowing rivers and blessed with countless clean lakes, the best fishing spots in Nunavut are well known to local guides. In addition to ice fishing in the springtime, several fishing lodges and outfitters provide for world-class sport fishing throughout the summer and fall


A Sport Fishing License is required by everyone except Inuit residents of Nunavut.

These required licenses are available from the Government of Nunavut (GN) Department of Environment (wildlife office), at most sport fishing lodges, sporting goods stores, co-op stores and at certain local offices of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). For more information about the proper procedure for obtaining a Sport Fishing License in Nunavut, please contact the GN Department of Environment at one of the following three locations:

Headquarters Office in Iqaluit
Ph: (867) 975-7700

Regional Office in Kugluktuk
Ph: (867) 982-7240

Regional Office in Arviat
Ph: (867) 857-2828



nunavut-fish-charArctic char (salvelinus alpinus) is both a freshwater and saltwater fish, closely related to both salmon and trout. A char can weigh 9 kilograms (20 lb.) or more and its flesh colour may vary from bright red to pale orange-pink. No other freshwater fish is found as far north as the char, which, for example, is the only species of fish in Lake Hazen on northernmost Ellesmere Island. Captured all across Nunavut, especially in coastal rivers, the char is by far the most dominant, hardest-hitting and popular fish to catch and eat, so popular with the Inuit people that it is usually just called ‘fish’ — ‘iqaluk’ in Inuktitut.


nunavut-fish-graylingArctic grayling (thymallus arcticus) is a feisty species of freshwater fish in the salmon family. The arctic grayling can grow to 76 centimetres (30 in.) in length and 4 kilograms (9 lb.) in weight, but most graylings caught in Nunavut, usually on lightweight tackle or fly-fishing gear, weigh about 2 kilograms (4 lb.) or less. They are tasty and a lot of fun to catch in lakes, rivers and rocky streams.


nunavut-fish-pikeThe great northern pike (esox lucius) is a carnivorous freshwater fish of the northern hemisphere. Mostly olive green colour, shading into yellow and white along the belly, pike can grow to a length of 150 centimetres (59 in.) and reach 25 kilograms (55 lb.) in weight. As ambush predators, they strike with remarkable acceleration, which is a lot of fun to handle on a fishing line.


nunavut-fish-trout(A.) Lake trout (salvelinus namaycush) is actually a species of freshwater char, highly prized as both a game fish and food fish. They are native only to the northern lakes of North America, but have several names— grey trout, lake char, laker, paperbelly, salmon trout, siscowet, togue and touladi. In Nunavut, giant trophy-sized lake trout are commonly caught in the 10-23 kilogram (22-50 lb.) range! Some fishing lodges boast of their guests catching an average of 40 lake trout in a single day, which is quite a fish tale!

(B.) Brook trout (salvelinus fontinalis) is a smaller char species, also called speckled trout, coaster or squaretail, that is found in the shallow streams of the Kivalliq region. A very popular game fish for fly fishermen, its typical size is 25-65 centimetres (10-26 in.) in length and 0.3-3.2 kilograms (11 oz. to 7 lb.) in weight.


The walleye (sander vitreus) is a freshwater perch-like fish, mistakenly known in some parts of Canada as the coloured pike, yellow pike, or pickerel — although it is related to neither pikes nor pickerels! Walleye belong to the ray-finned order of perciforms that includes perch and sunfish. Walleye get their name from the fact that their eyes, like those of cats, reflect light. On average, they grow to about 75 centimetres (30 in.) in length and 7 kilograms (15 lb.) in weight.


The lake whitefish (coregonus clupeaformis) is a freshwater member of the salmon family that inhabits large rivers and deep lakes as far north as Victoria Island in Nunavut. Primarily bottom feeders, they eat crustaceans, snails and insects and grow to 46 centimetres (18 in.) in length. Whitefish meat is highly prized for its fine, delicate flavour and the roe is called golden caviar.

A very tasty fish preparation in Nunavut is dried arctic char — called ‘pitsi’ in Inuktitut.


There are excellent fishing spots to be found within close range of every community in Nunavut. Just like their ancestors did, most Inuit families rely heavily upon the sustainable food resource of fish that is harvested nearby. The best fishing locations are shown in the new Nunavut Fishing Directory.

To learn more about fishing regulations in Nunavut call the Government of Nunavut (GN) Department of Environment at one of the following three locations:

Headquarters Office in Iqaluit
Ph: (867) 975-5955

Regional Office in Kugluktuk
Ph: (867) 982-7240

Regional Office in Arviat
Ph: (867) 857-2828

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