Lake Ontario has something for almost any freshwater angler. Whether it is the pursuit of a large trophy or finding an unusual or rare fish, fishermen can try their hand at catching a variety of Lake Ontario fish species. Below are some of the more common species found in the lake and/or many of the tributaries of Lake Ontario.
The Lake Trout is not only native to Lake Ontario, but is prevalent in many northern water bodies found in New York State. These fish are plentiful in number and can be caught in different seasons. In early spring, after the thaw, casting can produce a good fish. Other times of the year will require much deeper methods since lake trout prefer the deep water.
The Brown Trout is one of the few species that can be caught from Fall all the way into Spring. The fish begin their run in October. Once the spawn is finished they will hold up in one main area until the Spring. Finding the fish in late afternoons can result in a nice catch since the fish will move more after the water warms up a bit.
The stocking of Rainbow Trout into Lake Ontario has been quite successful thus far. The current state record exceeds 30 pounds and the previous record only stood for nine years. Anglers often use spoon lures tied on to down riggers in order to get down to the 40+ feet depth that these fish like to inhabit.
The Steelhead Trout found in Lake Ontario is one of two strains of rainbow trout. There is a Washington strain that makes it run each year in the winter months. The other strain is the Skamania that makes its run in the summer. Drift fishing is a great Steelhead fishing technique using long, sensitive rods and spinning reels.
The big Chinook Salmon found in the Lake Ontario tributaries can get as big as 30 pounds. They begin their annual run in September and continue until the latter portion of November. Anglers can employ a wide range of techniques such as trolling, jigging and spin casting to catch Chinooks in the fall.
The Coho Salmon annual run coincides with the King Salmon. The fall of the year is a great time to catch these robust fish that can get over 20 pounds. Catching a Coho requires paying attention to the current conditions. The easiest and best time to catch them is at the mouth of the Salmon River NY near the middle of August.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been stocking Lake Ontario with Atlantic Salmon as a part of the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program, also referred to as Bring Back the Salmon. The Atlantic Salmon was once native to the lake and tributaries of Lake Ontario, but has been on the decline due to over fishing and pollution. Atlantic Salmon are usually found in shallow waters in early spring and move into deeper pools once the water temperature reached the high 50s.