Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon

Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon

Of the Lake Ontario Fish species, one of the more popular sport fish is the Atlantic Salmon and were historically found in large numbers in New York State. The common hotspots of Oswego River and the Salmon River held some of the best chances to catch one of these leaping wonders. Although the fish suffered a major decline for a number of years, efforts have been under way to restock the fish and bring it back to a healthy population level.

Quick Atlantic Salmon History

Along with the Salmon and Oswego Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon was also plentiful in some of the smaller areas such as Oak Orchard Creek and Little Sandy Creek. Some records show that anglers could catch over a hundred fish in one day. Fishermen were known to use spears and even pitch forks to get the populous fish out of the shallow water and hurl them onto the banks. People who took to boats have recorded over 2000 fish in a single night.

However, several changes took place over the years and wiped out the Atlantic Salmon. Obviously, with the plentiful numbers, too many anglers took out too many fish, harming the overall population. But dam construction and pollution also played a part in hurting the salmon’s numbers.

Atlantic Salmon Conservation Project

In 1983 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began restocking the lake. Each year there are roughly 200,000 new Atlantic Salmon brought in to Lake Ontario. Continued research is underway to monitor the fish numbers as well as study their habitat for longevity. While the stocked fish are always mature fish of one year of age, new research is hoping to introduce salmon fry to see if the Lake can sustain new growth.

Catching the Atlantic Salmon

The Atlantic Salmon can be found at different times of the year and in various places, making them a great target of many anglers. During the spring when waters are warmer and lots of food is available the salmon like to congregate in the near shore areas. As the water heats up above 50 degrees the fish will slowly begin to move into the deeper areas offshore. Summer is a good time as the fish are quite active and can be very aggressive in water 65 degrees or below. As the fall approaches and water temperatures begin to drop the fish will return to the place where they were first stocked in the lake or their home location if they have marked out a territory. This is where their spawn will take place.

Since the Atlantic Salmon is a predator, anglers can use a variety of methods to catch these fish. The preferred prey of the Atlantic Salmon is rainbow smelt. Yellow perch, alewife and Cisco are other favorites of the Atlantic Salmon. In the spring trolling or fly fishing is a popular way of catching a healthy Atlantic Salmon. Once the summer arrives down riggers are employed in order to get baits deep enough to the salmon’s preferred depths. In the fall the Atlantic Salmon are not as concerned with eating as they are with spawning. Thus the angler will need a good deal of patience as well as great skill in imitating the preferred prey of the Atlantic Salmon.