Pan-fried brook trout and fiddleheads on an outdoor grill.

Northern Ontario | James Smedley

Simple Ontario fish recipes and shore lunches

Pan-fried brook trout and fiddleheads on an outdoor grill.

Northern Ontario | James Smedley

Whether it’s a shore lunch cooked along the water’s edge or a delicious fish dinner prepared in a lodge kitchen or barbeque, enjoying a meal of fresh Ontario fish is an integral part of the angling experience.

From white-fleshed fish like walleye, pike, bass, perch or whitefish to reddish-fleshed fish like lake trout, brook trout, splake or salmon, there is a wide range of delicious species in Ontario.

Here are several simple and tasty ways these fish can be prepared and enjoyed.

Shore lunch by the water

The following simple, yet delicious recipes are traditionally cooked over an open fire along Ontario’s wilderness shorelines. 

Classic shore lunch fish fry

The traditional shore lunch began with fishing guides preparing freshly caught fish for their guests after a morning of casting on the lake.

At fishing lodges in Ontario, the tradition is alive and well. Perhaps the freshest fish you’ll ever taste is one you’ve caught yourself and filleted for a shore lunch.

This much-anticipated meal is usually prepared by a fishing guide, but it can also be prepared by the anglers themselves, using a simple shore lunch kit provided by the lodge. In fact, if you pack the essential ingredients, you can enjoy a shore lunch virtually anywhere you fish.

Many Ontario lakes have shore lunch sites with fire pits and grills. Cooking over an open fire is a skill that comes with practice. Maintaining a consistent temperature means establishing a bed of coals and adding small pieces of wood as required.

Shore lunch fish fry recipes vary but here are the basic steps and ingredients to feed four people:


  • 8 walleye fillets
  • 2 quarts of cooking oil
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper


  • Fillet four 15 to 16-inch walleye. Walleye is the fish of choice for shore lunch, but pike, bass, perch and whitefish work equally well.
  • Rinse fillets with cold water.
  • Build a fire and heat a deep metal frying pan with cooking oil.
  • Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bag. Add fillets and shake till evenly coated. Salt, pepper and flour is a traditional and simple mix but various seasonings can be added and many guides, lodges or anglers have their own custom coating mix. There are also numerous commercial coating mixes available.
  • Heat oil to 350 - 375°F. A hand-held infrared thermometer is handy for this but heating oil to when it just starts to smoke and then letting it cool slightly before adding fish is a good guide in a pinch.
  • Slide fish into hot oil. Have enough wood ready to stoke the fire to maintain a temperature of about 360°. Any hotter and the fish will burn, any cooler and the fish will absorb too much oil.
  • Turn the fillets with tongs after a few minutes to ensure they cook consistently. Fish does not take long to cook and fillets are done when they turn golden brown and an internal temperature of 145°F is reached. This will only take 3 to 5 minutes depending on the fillet thickness.
  • Remove from oil and let drain on paper towel, newspaper or cedar boughs.
  • The pan of oil can now be used to make fried potatoes. Other traditional accompaniments include cans of beans or creamed corn opened and set on the grill to heat, as well as bread, pickles, coleslaw and tartar sauce.

Spicy pan fry

Once you’ve enjoyed a fresh fish fry on the shoreline of a beautiful lake, you know how good food can taste outdoors. It’s remarkable how the privilege and pleasure of a morning spent fishing for your meal can build up an appetite, but not everyone is on board with deep frying.

Here’s a crunchy and spicy pan-fried alternative.


  • 8 walleye fillets
  • 1/3 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce or similar cayenne-based hot sauce
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup cooking oil


  • Place walleye fillets in the bowl and pour in hot sauce and mix so fillets are covered. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Put cornmeal in a bag. Shake off excess hot sauce from fillets and add them to the bag. Shake so fillets are evenly coated with cornmeal.
  • Add oil to a frying pan and heat over a medium-hot fire.
  • Add fillets and pan fry for 6 to 8 minutes per side until the cornmeal coating is a deep golden brown.

Pine portage walleye

Another alternative to deep frying. This method of cooking over a fire steams the fish within an envelope of tinfoil.


  • 3 pieces of tinfoil about 20 inches long by 12 inches wide
  • ¼ cup of butter, softened
  • 8 walleye fillets
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 lemon sliced with peel removed
  • 1 cup of fresh or canned tomato
  • Salt and pepper


  • Double up two pieces of foil and place on a flat surface, spread the butter evenly to within an inch of the foil’s edge.
  • Lay sliced onions evenly on top of the buttered surface.
  • Place the fish fillets on top of the onions in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place one or two lemon slices on top of each fillet.
  • Place one or two fresh tomato slices or pieces of canned tomato on top of each fillet.
  • Put the third piece of foil on top of the fish and carefully make two quarter-inch folds along each edge to create a sealed envelope of foil.
  • With the tip of a knife make six small incisions in the top of the foil to allow steam to escape.
  • Carefully slide the foil envelope onto a grill over a hot fire. A flat board is handy for moving the envelope to and from the grill.
  • Cook over a hot fire for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the envelope and place on a flat surface. Slowly slice open the top of the foil pouch, being careful not to get burned by escaping steam.

Housekeeping resort or backyard barbecue

Complicated recipes are not required to bring out the delicate flavours of Ontario sport fish. A traditional shore lunch involves cooking over a fire in a remote outdoor setting and even though recipes tend to be simple, the results are delicious. The same goes for preparing fresh fish back at a lodge or housekeeping cabin barbeque - simplicity is key.

Here are some easy and delicious recipes for the backyard barbecue:

Barbecued salmon or trout

This homemade barbecue sauce can be produced from condiments found in most refrigerators. It may not sound great. But it is.


  • 2 pounds salmon, brook trout or splake fillets with skin left on

Barbecue sauce:

  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon American-style mustard
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Sriracha or similar hot chilli sauce


  • Mix all barbecue sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for two minutes. Let sauce cool and spoon over fillets.
  • Slide fillets onto a preheated barbecue grill on medium-high heat.
  • Close the lid and grill until flesh is no longer opaque and flakes easily, about 12 to 16 minutes depending on the thickness of fillets.

Bass on the half shell

This simple cooking method uses high heat to singe the skin and impart a delicate charred flavour to the fish.

The charred skin becomes the “shell” and is part of the plated presentation. The fillet is served skin side down and the moist and tasty fish is removed from the skin as “bass on the half shell” is eaten.


  • 4 smallmouth or largemouth bass fillets with the skin left on.
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  • Squeeze lime juice onto fillets.
  • Combine chilli powder, salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly over fillets.
  • Place fillets on hot barbecue grill, lower lid and cook until flesh is no longer opaque and flakes easily, about 15 minutes.

Cedar-planked maple brook trout or salmon

This classic cooking method combines the rich and unique flavours of Ontario Maple syrup with eastern white cedar to enhance the reddish flesh of Ontario salmon, brook trout or splake.


  • 1 cedar plank about 6” x 12”
  • 2 pounds of salmon, splake or brook trout fillets, skin removed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon each of salt-and-pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste


  • Using a weight submerge cedar plank in water for several hours.
  • Mix maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper into a paste.
  • Place salmon or trout onto cedar plank and cover with the maple syrup mixture.
  • Place on preheated grill and close cover.
  • Cook on medium heat for 15 or 20 minutes depending on the thickness of fillets. The cedar plank will dry out and may start to char and smoke. If it catches fire extinguish with water and lower the temperature.

A group of anglers enjoy a shore lunch.

Ontario fishing lodges that offer a shore lunch

Many northern Ontario fishing lodges offer a shore lunch experience for their guests, as well as the opportunity to cook a fresh catch on the barbeque.

These include:

Anderson’s Lodge

Experience walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, lake trout and musky fishing at its best in Northwest Ontario.

Location: 2385 Highway 72, Sioux Lookout

Delaney Lake Lodge

Full-service fly-in fishing lodge north of Kenora in Northwest Ontario.

Location: 841 Carlton Branch Road, Kenora

Wiley Point Wilderness Lodge

Experience authentic fishing adventure at this wilderness lodge in the heart of Lake of the Woods.

Location: Lake of The Woods, Sioux Narrows

Halley’s Camps

Fly in from Kenora or boat in from Caribou Falls Landing and enjoy an all-inclusive fishing adventure in Northwest Ontario.

Location: 5 ON-525, Minaki

Wilderness North

Ultimate fishing adventure awaits in Northwest Ontario and the Boreal Forest.

Location: 531 Shipyard Road, Thunder Bay

Guardian Eagle Resort

Remote fly-in fishing camp in Northwest Ontario.

Location: DeLesseps, Lake Uncategorized, Thunder Bay

Brace Lake Outfitters

Home to a thriving population of walleye, perch and monster pike, Brace Lake fishing camp offers cabin and lodge accommodations.

Location: 219 Kingsland Street, Nakina

Crawford’s Camp

Find great walleye and pike fishing plus comfortable housekeeping resort accommodations in Lake of the Woods.

Location: 5821 ON-71, Sioux Narrows

Esnagami Lodge

Book your next walleye, pike or trout fishing vacation at this fly-in fishing lodge in Northern Ontario.

Location: Thunder Bay, Unorganized

Errington’s Wilderness Island

Fly-in to this secluded wilderness location in Algoma Region for incredible walleye fishing.

Location: Wilderness Island, Wabatongushi Lake

Buck Lake Wilderness Lodges and Outposts

Fly-in for trophy fishing in the heart of Algoma Region.

Location: Hornepayne

Pine Portage Lodge

For over 75 years Pine Portage Lodge has provided some of the best fly-in fishing and outdoor adventure in Ontario.

Location: 195 Mission Road, Wawa

Lodge Eighty Eight

Eco-friendly, modern and luxurious lodge offering world-class fishing.

Location: Mile 88, CPR West of Chapleau, White River

Windy Point Lodge 

Experience exceptional fly-in walleye, northern pike, whitefish and perch fishing on Kabinakagami Lake.

Location: Kabinakagami Lake, Box 1334, Wawa

MarMac Lodge

Head to the remote and beautiful shore of Esnagi Lake for an unforgettable wilderness and fishing adventure.

Location: Esnagi Lake, Algoma, Unorganized, North Part

Totem Lodge

Fish for walleye, bike and bass on the French River and enjoy waterfront accommodations with a housekeeping or American Plan.

Location: 46 Natures Trl Road, Noëlville

Bear's Den Lodge

Family-run fishing lodge in the heart of French River Provincial Park in Northeastern Ontario.

Location: 2870 J Hartley Bay Road, Alban

Crane's Lochaven & Wilderness Resort

Located on an island on the French River, Crane’s Lochaven delivers an unforgettable fishing experience.

Location: French River

Wild Exodus 

In addition to outdoor adventure and unique glamping experiences, Wild Exodus offers excellent guided fishing packages.

Location: Kenogamissi Lake, Wawaitin Falls, Timmins

Hartley Bay Marina

This family-run marina serves as the perfect access point to the French River Delta and French River Provincial Park.

Location: 2870 Hartley Bay Road, French River

Kesagami Wilderness Lodge

Journey to Ontario’s pristine wilderness for some of the best northern pike and walleye fishing in Canada.

Location: 188 6th Avenue #130, Cochrane

Last updated: June 17, 2024

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