Tag Archives: Facts

Hamilton Harbour Fishing Facts

Hamilton Harbour Fishing Facts

Monday September 13th 2010

By  J. Darby

Photos  Doug Worrall

fisherman today

Ivan S. Brokes book entitled “Hamilton Harbour 1826 – 1901” states “in the 1780’s Geroge Stewart and Charles Depew paddled canoes from the Niagara River to the inlets along the shore of what  is now Hamilton Harbour.  They sought and laid claim to land in the south-central section of the harbour, the industrial area.”  By 1817 the Steamboat BRITANNIA left Hamilton daily at 7 a.m. for Toronto, and returning at 2 p.m. with stops in Oakville and the Burlington Canal.  Then, in 1912, just before WW1, times were tough with a depression, and fishermen designed fish hooks from old nuts.

The Journal of Paleoliminology indicates the Liminological (fish population) changes in Hamilton Harbour in Lake Ontario.  The evidence of this study demonstrates that the site of Hamilton Harbour has changed over the last 8,300 years from a shallow waterbody, to a deep embayment of Lake Ontario.  At about 7000 years it was a mesotrophic pond of moderate alkalinity, warmer than present, and probably with an extensive marginal wetland [ Cootes Paradise].  An initial transitory connection with the rising water level of Lake Ontario was established at 7,000 years possibly by a deep outlet channel.  Decreased mixing of Lake Ontario water from about 4,000 years following the Nipissing Flood highstand is evident in the sediments.  The final 280 years sedimentary record reveals the magniture  of anthropogenically induced changes to the habitat, including eutrophication and organic pollution.  Therefore, constraints of these conditions are imposed on  (fish)  species inhabited in Hamilton Harbour.
Hamilton Harbour Ecosystem is seriously degraded, but it is the largest and most important warm-water fish habitat in western Lake Ontario. A panoramic view of Hamilton Harbour is over the Sky-way Bridge as it passes over Burlington Bay.  As of May 2,010 there is a Trail that goes under the Sky-way called the “Beach Strip Trail.”   Anglers will be happy to hear that Atlantic Salmon are making a comeback to Lake Ontario.  Fishing in the Grindstone Creek, a stream near Hamilton [Freelton] has Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon and White Bass.
Chinook Salmon are considered “exotic” species, because they were introduced to the Laurentian Great Lakes to increase diversity of angling opportunities in 1873, and Chinook Salmon has been extensively stocked since 1967.


On the U.S. side of Lake Ontario, in 2,010 they have stocked 1.58 million Chinook fingerlings – that is 200,000 less than in 2,009 – due to problems of thiamine deficiency with hatchlings and DEC Hatchery in Altmar.  The U.S. 2,009 fish count by the State Dept. of Environment / Conservation and U.S. Geological Survey indicated a good year, as (1) Coho Salmon was the 3rd highest take, (2) Atlantic Salmon was the 4th highest take, and (3) Chinook Salmon was the 5th highest take in the last 25 years.This U.S. report laid out the importance of the Sport Fishing Industry, such as, (1) creation of thousands of jobs, and (2) substantial spin-offs by pumping millions of dollars into State economy.  The 2,007 U.S. Angler’s Survey emphasized  that fishing trips   to Lake Ontario and its five major tributaries  calculated  economic revenues of $114.5 billion.(U.S. dollars).    They also stated that Lake Ontario fishery “is complicated” but thriving.  One thing they did point out was a problem with Lake Ontario Trout that have been taking a dive.  A factor that may have caused the dive is the lack of diporeia, a small bug on the bottom that was an important food for juvenile Lake Trout.

A 2,008 study by the Biology Dept. of  Western University in Canada on Chinook Salmon stated “tracking the hatchery salmon traditionally utilized the labour intensive method of fin clipping  and/or tagging.  The use of fin clips and tag  release studies are not practical methods of tracking wild populations which spawn in streams throughout the watershed.”  Therefore, “recent studies have shown relationships between the elementary composition of otoliths in teleast fish and the environment.  The biological inert and archival properties of the otoliths allow for the analysis of the environmental conditions throughout the life history of an individual fish.

The Great Lakes basin is one of the most Computer modeled systems in the world as a support tool,  to develop predictive  models for decision-making, such as, Lake Ontario’s Fish Stocking (1990s). This study gives recommendations including (1) managers, need to provide clear direction; (2) modelers, must be careful not to promise more than can be delivered, (3) computer model objectives and complexity should be decided and agreed upon by managers and modelers, and, (4) ambiguity at the beginning of the process can undermine changes for success.  In 2,008 a study by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Detroit used computer modeling to compare and evaluate various study objectives, point out that HEC-DSS and HEC-RAS are for FREE, and have larger user basis, this ability may have wide application for many within the great Lakes research community.

So, with the sharing between U.S./Canada on Great Lake data etc.  maybe Canada would get these free Computer modeling systems to do  fish population studies in Hamilton Harbour.  In 2,008 the Dofasco Centre for Engineering and Public Policy at McMaster University in Hamilton pointed out “traditionally “command and control” approaches to natural resources management premised an understanding of ecosystems as clearly defined and relatively simple aims for expected outcomes.  But, uncertainties inherent in Ecosystems present added challenges for Great Lakes Management because of – deficiencies in the current goverance  structure..  At Guelph University 2,008 study pointed out to date “the Canadian government has contributed in excess of $48,000,000 toward habitat restoration and rural pollution reduction projects …including 27 fish barriers.  And, $730,000  is  the expenditure required  to come up with a major restoration plan for Hamilton West Harbour.
By Jacqueline Darby
Doug Worrall

Conservation vs Control in Coote’s Paradise Hamilton

Conservation vs Control in Coote’s Paradise Hamilton


In 1974, a request came form RGB for control  of Coote’s Paradise.  But, the Hamilton Harbor Commission held tightly to the control  it claims it had under the 1912 Act Of Parliament by which it was created.  In fact, the 1912 Act of Parliament …supercedes the 28 year-old RGB legislation.
Now, the conservation issue in 1974, was the preservation of Coote’s Paradise being in doubt because of a recommendation that would double the release of sewage into Coote’s Paradise.  It was suggested to construct a sewage line along the base of Coote’s Paradise and Burlington Bay to the east-end Woodward plant.  Then RGB director, Leslie Laking, had great concerns about the decision.  he said “The RGB would have no effluent in Coote’s Paradise from here on in.”  And, chairman of the Harbor Board, Ed Tharen, ” pointed an accusing finger at the Dundas sewage treatment plant as the major polluter responsible for that gunk being poured into Coote’s Paradise.”
Stewart Morison, Ducks Unlimited Canada which is an offshoot of the U.S. group, in 1987, expects to spend $43 million in 1988 to build and restore wetland habitat for waterfowl.  Morison looked at prospects for involvement in a Coote’s Paradise project proposed by RGB biologist Len Simer.  From the high level bridge, Simer described the marshland’s problems and potential underlining three issues that hamper growth of plants needed for good wildlife habitat.  Perceptual opportunities for current difficulties hampering wildlife habitat in Coote’s are a justaposition of elements  and how they relate to each other, such as :: (1) wind-stirred mud; (2) bottom-feeding carp, and, (3) changing water levels. Carp and other invasive species continue to be an issue, even in 2,010 ,  Reduction of Carp is due to the Fishway operation.  This allows other fish and plants to return to the marshland.

In 1988, Ducks unlimited Canada said “Half of Coote’s Paradise can be restored to the wetland wildlife preserve it was earlier this century.  DUC, provincial  manager John Blain told RGB board of directors.  The now flooded swamp and surrounding wetlands at the far west end of Hamilton Harbor are part of RGB property.  Blain said “Coote’s Paradise restoration – We believe it’s feasible in terms of both biology and engineering and asked the conservation group to investigate.

In 1988, DUC would build more than 3 km (2 miles of earthen dikes to wall off 3 km (250 acres) of open water below the McMaster University CampusThis exciting initiative included: (1) Water depth would be lowered to foster the growth of natural marsh plants needed for good wildlife habitate; (2) There would be NO CARP to uproot young plants; and, (3) There would be less wind-stirred MUD to block sunlight.
Coote’s Paradise had another concern in 1988 because the region set sites on a Perimeter Road (now hwy. 403).  The north-side alternative was cheapest to build at $48 million.  Planners backed the north-south site because it would offer drivers an attractive view of the waterfront.  The Hamilton Harbor Commission would have to approve the scheme.  Now the negative side is beastly ugly because it includes three issues:
(1) Noise would affect the western harbour and
proposed waterfront park.  ( Now in 2,010 we
have a beautiful waterfont part with little
(2) The harbor’s surface area, volume and fish
habitat would be reduced.
(3) Fill would be needed in Coote’s Paradise.  And, thank goodness for former Alderman Mary Kiss, who recommened “to build 403 hwy WITHOUT PUTTING FILL IN COOTE’S PARADISE – one of the most ecologically important areas
Memory is like Jazz.  Life jazz, memory has more to do with now than then.  Then is just fiction now.
in Two Sides of a Centre
Robert Clark Yates

Would like to thank Robert Yates for his inspirational books and watchful eye on Cootes paradise.

Enjoy the pictures and information today and  have a great weekend.
Doug Worrall Photographer