There are 3 types of salmon found in Lake Ontario, all members of the Pacific family of salmon. There are the Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and pink salmon. A typical-sized Chinook salmon weighs around 10 pounds but the largest specimens of this species may weigh up to 40 pounds. The Chinook name was taken from the Chinook Indian tribe. Other names for this species King, Spring Salmon, and Tyee.
They are iridescent green to blue-green on top with silvery sides and turning white on the belly. Black spotting is present on the top side and on the fins. The Coho salmon has a silvery pink body and are typically 6-12 pounds and rarely exceeds 30 pounds. The pink salmon has a pink upper half body and green lower half with black spots. They are around 3-5 pounds up to 10 pounds.
Salmon lay their eggs in riverbeds and streams in the fall. The eggs stay in their nests all winter and then hatch in the spring. Newly-hatched salmon spend a few months in streams before “smolting” to become silvery in color and become juveniles or young adults and migrate to the Great Lakes. They can spend up to 4 years in the Lakes before returning to its tributary river to spawn in the falltime. After spawning, they swim upstream and die.
Around Lake Ontario in the springtime, there is a feeding frenzy caused by schools of baitfish in the area caused by warmer waters. Lake Ontario in the Niagara region warms up first caused by warm water from canals from Lake Erie dumping into Lake Ontario.
After the Niagara region warms up, the warm waters will then spread throughout Lake Ontario. Salmon of all stages in their lifecycle can be found swimming near the shores and enjoying the baitfish. Salmon fishing during this season along all ports of Lake Ontario is great and plentiful. Lake Ontario has no doubt a world-class fishery for salmon. 40 pound salmon can be found throughout Lake Ontario.
Trolling is an excellent technique for fishing salmon in Lake Ontario. Trolling means to angle by drawing a baited line through the water from behind a slowly moving boat. Downriggers and fish finders are excellent accessories when trolling. Downriggers are devices that maintains your line and bait at a certain level underwater. Salmon tend to hang out in a 54 degree temperature layer where the baitfish are. Mark fish on your fish finder and set downriggers at different depths around 20 feet of where you are marking the majority of fish.
Another way to fish for salmon is in the rivers when they are running up to spawn. Salmon are often taken using spoons, crankbaits or spinners. Spoons are large shimmery flat pieces of metal representing fish in distress. Crankbait are wooden or plastic lures with a lip resembling preyfish. Spinners are elongated lures with a hook on one end and with feathers or fur to disguise the hook.