Fly Fishing The Saugeen River

Information for fly fishing the Saugeen river in Southern Ontario. The Saugeen river offers a wealth of fly fishing opportunities. Both warm and cold water species exist in this giant watershed. Everything from Musky to Brook trout and everything in between. This is one river in Ontario that you should fish without doubt. There are several campgrounds on the river, and various access points that offer you fly fishing opportunities in many communites on the river.

Brown Trout – tributary of the Saugeen River, southern Ontario.


Few rivers insouthern Ontario are as large and complex as the Saugeen. From its tiny beginnings near Dundalk, Ontario, the Saugeen flows west, fed by several large and small tributaries along its way.

The Saugeen River is located in southern Ontario, Canada, flowing generally north-west about 160km before exiting into Lake Huron. The river is navigable for some distance, and was once an important barge route. Today the river is best known for its Fishing and as an excellent canoe route, one of the longest in southern Ontario..

The river is split in three for most of its length, with the South and North Saugeens both being formed from a number of smaller branches starting south-east of Owen Sound. The south Saugeen meets the main river near the town of Hanover.  Further downstream near the town of paisley, the north Saugeen meets the main branch about 24km south-east of its exit into Lake Huron, at Southampton.

The tributaries of the Saugeen River include:

  • Rocky Saugeen
  • Beatty Saugeen
  • South Saugeen
  • North Saugeen
  • Teeswater River

Upper Saugeen River

The upper Saugeen river is a trout anglers paradise.  From the cold, spring fed beginnings upstream of Durham towards Priceville, brook trout are abundant.  Brookies up to 18 inches are caught regularly by those who know where these large char like to hang out.  They’re very spooky, and very wise to anglers approaching recklessly.  Stealth is key when fishing brook trout in the clear waters of the upper Saugeen river.

Saugeen river brook trout

Giant southern Ontario brook trout caught in the upper Saugeen river

From Durham downstream to Hanover, you’ll find some of the best brown trout fishing that southern Ontario has to offer.  The terrain is difficult, the river is often very deep, and the bush is thick.  Most successful fly anglers make use of canoes, pontoons or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, a drift boat to access the rarely touched trout waters in this stretch.  It’s about as close to Montana style fly fishing that you’ll get in southern Ontario.

27 Inch Saugeen river Brown Trout, southern Ontario

27 Inch Saugeen river Brown Trout, southern Ontario

Upper Saugeen River Hatch Chart: Upper Saugeen River Hatch Chart

Backroads Map Books Tell Secrets:

Lower Saugeen River

The lower section of the Saugeen from Hanover downstream to Southampton provides excellent fly fishing for both warm and cold water species.  Species include Small Mouth & Large Mouth Bass, Pike, Musky, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, & Carp.  During the fall and spring runs of migratory fish seeking spawning areas in the cold, clean upper  sections of the river, Salmon and Trout can be caught from the Truax dam in Walkerton right down  to the mouth of the river at Southampton. A particularly popular spot for fly and spey fishing is the area below Denny’s Dam in Southampton down to the mouth. This area has an extended open season until December 31st.  Additionally, a section of the river further downstream remains open year round.  Refer to the MNR fishing regulations summary for details on extended open seasons.

Saugeen River Steelhead, southern, Ontario

Saugeen River Steelhead, southern, Ontario

Warm Water Fish Species In The Saugeen

Walkerton downstream to southampton offers a unique fishery for Musky, Smallmouth Bass and Pike.  The river in this stretch changes from slow, meandering water to riffle and runs that hold various baitfish species, as well as immature rainbow trout and salmon.  Perfect feasting food for predatory fish like Musky.  The smallmouth bass population is huge, and makes for some very fun days during the heat of summer when the trout waters upstream should be left alone.

Backroads Map Books Tell Secrets:


saugeen river smallmouth bass

Guide, fly tyer and rod builder Brent Santoro with a chunky saugeen river smallmouth bass.

Backroads Map Books Tell Secrets:

The upper reaches are your typical cold water fishery supporting brook and brown trout with some branches seeing seasonally stocked rainbow trout in the mix as well. Access is very limited on the upper reaches of the Saugeen, as with many other southern Ontario headwaters streams.  If you do find access, be sure to leave no trace of your presence behind, and if you find evidence of careless visitors, please pack it out with you to keep the river as fresh and clean as it should be.

Accessing the River

and access points on this river include:

  • Durham
  • Hanover
  • Mount Forest
  • Southampton
  • Walkerton

It is also recommended that you contact the Saugeen Valley Conservation Area to find more information about other access points along the river.


Fly Fishing Starter Kit, Fly Tying Starter Kit, Recommended Back Road Map Book

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