Lake Ontario is the home to three varieties of salmon, all of which are part of the Pacific family. These varieties are known as pink, Coho and Chinook salmon. The average Chinook will weigh around 10 lbs, however it is not unusual for this variety to grow to 40lbs. The Chinook gets its name from the Native American tribe. This particular species of salmon is also often referred to as king, spring and tyee. The Chinook is usually a green and blue color with a white belly and silver sides. The coho are usually smaller with an average weight of around 6 to 12 lbs. They have silvery, pink looking skin. The lower half of a pink salmon is usually green and has black spots.
Salmon eggs are generally laid in riverbeds and streams during autumn. They remain there for the winter, normally hatching sometime in spring. These hatchlings often remain in streams for several months before changing color and migrating to the Great Lakes. Adult salmon will normally remain in the Lakes for 4 years. They will then migrate back to the streams and tributary rivers to spawn. Following this, they will migrate upstream to die.
The spring time brings much warmer waters to Lake Ontario. The baitfish present will often cause a frenzy of feeding. Following the warming of the Niagara area, the warm waters migrate to Lake Ontario. The visible feeding of salmon of all ages can be seen around the shores of the lake as the baitfish population explodes. This time of year provides great salmon fishing all around Lake Ontario. It is not unusually for 40 lb salmon to be caught on a regular basis.
While people employ many different methods of fishing for salmon on Lake Ontario, trolling is one of the most popular and effective. This is the process whereby a baited line is drawn through the water behind a boat, moving very slowly. A downrigger is often used to maintain bait at a certain depth in the water and improve the chances of a catch. This is important as the majority of salmon will be in the layer of water that is closest to 54 degrees, a temperature enjoyed by baitfish.
It is also common practice to catch salmon when they are in the rivers on the way to spawning grounds. The equipment used for this type of fishing includes crankbaits, spinners and spoons. Spoons represent distressed fish, crankbaits are plastic or wooden lures, designed to resemble prey fish. Spinners are lures that have a hook, usually hidden by feathers or fur to disguise the hook from the salmon.