This blog post has been reproduced from the TRCA brochure, “Salmon in the City: A quick guide to learning about Salmon in Toronto and the GTA”
Introduction to salmon in Toronto and the GTA
More than a century ago, Atlantic Salmon were commonly found in Lake Ontario and its rivers. With European settlement came an increase in negative impacts on aquatic habitat such as deforestation, pollution and construction barriers. As a result, the Atlantic Salmon population drastically decreased and by 1898 they were extirpated (locally extinct) from Lake Ontario.
Throughout the century, Chinook and Coho Salmon were introduced to Lake Ontario to enhance recreational fishing and can now be seen in large numbers in the GTA’s rivers during fall migration. In 2006, Lake Ontario water quality and habitat improvements allowed the initiation of an Atlantic Salmon restoration program known as Bring Back the Salmon.
Historic timeline of salmon in Lake Ontario
|1812||John McCuaig, Superintendent of Fisheries of Upper Canada, noted that Atlantic Salmon “swarmed the rivers so thickly that they were thrown out with a shovel and even with the hand.”|
|1881||Samuel Wilmot observes drastic environmental change, caused by European settlement, and laments that “I cannot disguise from myself that the time is gone by forever for the growth of salmon and speckled trout in the frontier streams of Ontario”|
|1898||Atlantic Salmon extirpated from Lake Ontario as last confirmed fish caught off the Scarborough shoreline.|
|1990||Large numbers of Chinook and Coho Salmon discovered in the North shore tributaries of Lake Ontario, a result of intense stocking programs throughout the 1900s.|
|2006||Full-scale Atlantic Salmon restoration program begins in Lake Ontario streams.|
|2011||Atlantic Salmon restoration on the Humber River begins with the stocking of 100,000 fry.|
|2017||Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) records the largest Atlantic Salmon to be surveyed in the last 28 years (15 pounds) during their Lake Ontario fisheries survey.|
— TRCA Monitoring (@TRCA_Monitoring) July 11, 2017
Bring Back the Salmon
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and many other partners are working to bring Atlantic Salmon back to Lake Ontario. The program has four major components: fish production and stocking; water quality and habitat enhancement; education and outreach; and research and monitoring.
To get involved with the program or for more information visit: bringbackthesalmon.ca
The Atlantic Salmon life cycle
Good news! Last week we recorded two young #AtlanticSalmon at one of our long-term #fish community monitoring sites in the #DuffinsCreek watershed. Learn more about the @ontariosalmon Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program: https://t.co/xVEiZc4Mk2 pic.twitter.com/7QnjgZ4tXf
— TRCA Monitoring (@TRCA_Monitoring) June 21, 2018
Fish identification: The different types of salmon species in Toronto and the GTA
|Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)|
|Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)|
|Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)|
|Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)|
|Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)|
Where to see salmon in the GTA
There are many places in the GTA where you can observe Pacific (Chinook and Coho) Salmon and/or Atlantic Salmon migrating up streams and rivers to spawn between September and November:
— Jeff Dickie (@JeffDickie) September 14, 2018
Annual Salmon Festival
Learn more about Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s annual salmon festival.