Authors: Parsons, John W.
Publication Year: 1973
Book or Record Title: History of salmon in the Great Lakes, 1850-1970
Extent of Work: 80
Series Title: U. S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife Technical paper no. 68
This history of the salmon in the Great Lakes describes the decline and extinction of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Lake Ontario in the 1800's; the failure to establish, by salmon culture, permanent or sizable populations of Atlantic or Pacific salmon in any of the Great Lakes in 1867-1965; and the success of the plantings of coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and chinook salmon (O. tshawytsha) in the Great Lakes, in 1966-70 -- particularly in Lake Michigan. Despite plantings of 5 million fry and fingerlings from Lake Ontario stocks in 1866-84, the native Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario became extinct in the late 1800's primarily because tributaries in which they spawned were blocked by mill dams. Plantings of 13 million chinook salmon and landlocked and anadromous forms of Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes in 1873-1947 failed completely. The first species to develop a self-sustaining population was the pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), which was planted in Lake Superior in 1956; however, it has not become abundant. A salmon fishery finally was established when 15 million coho salmon and 6 million chinook salmon were planted as smolt in the Great Lakes in 1966-70. In 1970, for example, 576, 000 coho salmon (12% of those planted in 1969) were caught by anglers in Lake Michigan. Most weighed 5 to 10 pounds (2.3-4.5 kg). Sport fishing for salmon was fair in Lakes Superior and Huron, and poor in Lakes Erie and Ontario. By 1970, natural reproduction of coho, chinook, pink, and kokanee (O. nerka) salmon had occurred in some tributaries of one or more of the upper three Great Lakes. It is expected, however, that the sport fishery will continue to be supported almost entirely by planted fish.
Lake Huron Spring Chinook Salmon
Jeff Wall | Nomad Adventures
The groundhog said six more weeks of winter from Feb 2.... he was wrong! It has been a lot of years, close to 20 since I was able to put some decent time in on the spring Great Lakes fishery. April is normally our second busiest month for river guiding, but the winter that wouldn't go away gave us some time for personal fishing.
Canadian kayak fishing guide Jeff Wall showcases his spring catch. Over 40 fish caught in six outings last spring. All were salmon or trout except one giant out of season walleye.
Steelhead, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Chinook Salmon, Atlantic Salmon, Walleye, Lake Trout were all caught and released over six separate days of fishing.
Long lining shallow crankbaits on light lines pretty much sums up the spring kayak fishing in Ontario for the Great Lakes region. We employed a variety of minnow baits, smaller spoons, and kwikfish style lures. Slow trolling with abrupt direction changes were the ticket in the open water trolling but crashing two lures thru the baitfish schools got us several doubles. I don't have to tell you how exciting that is in a kayak!
Please always consider best practices when heading out on the Great Lakes, especially when it is still winter. Better yet, hire a guide!
Be sure to look up Nomad Adventures for your next spring kayak fishing trip.
Hope you enjoy!
Giant Lake Ontario Walleye
Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon
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