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North Lake named fifth top fishing location in Canada

Brad Tinney, a charter captain from Alabama, is shown with a bluefin tuna he caught with Tony’s Tuna Fishing in North Lake this past summer. The tuna was released afterwards.
Brad Tinney, a charter captain from Alabama, is shown with a bluefin tuna he caught with Tony’s Tuna Fishing in North Lake this past summer. The tuna was released afterwards. - Contributed

NORTH LAKE, P.E.I. - Fishermen are used to successful tuna fishing expeditions out of North Lake, P.E.I.

After all, the tuna is caught relatively close to shore and can weigh between 600 and 1,200 pounds.

Their size and proximity to land are the main reasons North Lake has hooked some major recognition this month – being selected fifth in FishingBooker’s Top Seven Fishing Locations in Canada for 2019.

“It’s bigger than people realize, this whole fishing thing,” said Tony MacDonald, owner of Tony’s Tuna Fishing in North Lake. “We promote it ourselves, but it’s kind of a best-kept secret. People from all over the world are coming here to catch these bluefin.”

FishingBooker is the world’s largest website to book fishing charters. The top seven list was created based on a number of factors such as user reviews, variety of species and overall experience.

North Lake is often called “the tuna capital of the world”, according to FishingBooker.com.

Charter bookings for the coming season are already filling up with people from around the globe, said MacDonald.

“We’re half-booked now and they’re from everywhere – Denmark, Japan Australia, France, Germany,” said MacDonald.

Another attraction for foreign fishermen is the Canada International Tuna Cup Challenge hosted in North Lake every September. The competition enters its 47th year in 2019.

Last year’s winning team from Granby, Que., was captained by Ernest MacPhee, and his team at Ernie’s Fishing Charter, which is based in North Lake.

“People come from all over for this,” he said.

“Bluefin tuna fishing the past couple years has been great, and it’s only going to improve our exposure to everybody that’s interested to go fishing.”

- Ernest MacPhee

Another reason FishingBooker chose North Lake is how close the tuna are to land.

While some fishing charters take hours to reach waters for the desired catch, the tuna in North Lake can be caught close to land because the fish they eat lure them closer to shore.

“The fish are literally two or three miles from the harbour,” said MacDonald. “These fish are right on your doorstep.”

Charlie and Terri Wray, hosts of the Fishful Thinking TV show on multiple networks, with a bluefin tuna caught last summer in North Lake with Tony’s Tuna Fishing. Submitted photo
Charlie and Terri Wray, hosts of the Fishful Thinking TV show on multiple networks, with a bluefin tuna caught last summer in North Lake with Tony’s Tuna Fishing. Submitted photo

A majority of the fishing is catch and release.

Fishing television shows have also been attracted to North Lake.

MacDonald said a new episode of the TV show, “Fishful Thinking”, filmed in North Lake is due to air in the coming weeks.

“It’s a show that they made on P.E.I. fishing with us that promotes the bluefin tuna fishing on P.E.I,” he said.

The show airs on multiple networks.

Most charter bookings for bluefin tuna fishing are in September and October because that’s when the tuna are the largest.

MacDonald said it’s great for the local economy.

“It brings a lot of money to the restaurants, and it’s the shoulder season, which is a complete bonus,” said MacDonald.

Both Tony’s Tuna Fishing and Ernie’s Fishing Charter get hundreds of fishermen each year.

MacPhee said the rating by FishingBooker could bring in even more people.

“Bluefin tuna fishing the past couple years has been great, and it’s only going to improve our exposure to everybody that’s interested to go fishing,” he said.


FishingBooker’s Top 7 Fishing Locations in Canada for 2019:

  • Ucluellet, B.C.
  • Yellowknife, Great Slave Lake, N.W.T.
  • Mississauga, Lake Ontario, Ont.
  • Lake Diefenbaker, Sask.
  • North Lake, P.E.I.
  • Campbell River, B.C.
  • Lake of the Woods, Ont.

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