Tag Archives: FISHING

Lake Ontario’s Recreational Fishery Hamilton

Lake Ontario’s Recreational Fishery Hamilton

Monday September 27th 2010

Viewing the bay
Until 1933, the U.S. state agencies tried to establish reproducing populations of Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes , but were unsuccessful. Since 1967, Chinook salmon have been stocked to support the foundation of Lake Ontario’s  “Recreational Fishery”  for three types of anglers: (1) small boat anglers; (2) shoreline anglers; and, (3) break-wall anglers.  Studies in the Lake Michigan tributaries have estimated that natural reproduction by Chinook salmon has contributed to an extimated 23% of the total Chinook salmon population , in 1982. The Province of Canada Fishing Law of 1858 was modified with the Act for the regulation of Fishing and Protection of Fisheries in 1868.  .Margaret Beattie  Boque in  Fishing the Great Lakes, An Environmental History 1783 – 1933,  says, “The Act of 1868 put safeguards to the Salmon in Lake Ontario, already in critical condition, specifying a closed season, mesh sizes of nets, and distance between nets.  This Act protected entrances to spawning streams, spawning grounds, and prohibited taking of roe, salmon fry, parrs and smolts, and fish less than three pounds in weight. The study of fish production ,food habits, and activities of fish fauna is Limnology.  The study of Morphology investigates things like temperature.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) key priorities for Fishery Management in Canada include (1) environmental sustainability; (2) economic viability, and  (3) the inclusion of stakeholders in the decision – making process.  In this aquaculture, the research tool to attaining  strong conservation outcomes is risk management because it supports long-term sustainability.  The fishery decision-making framework incorporates the popular tool for fisheries management and conservation of the precautionary approach (PA), or, aquatic precautionary approach (APA).
The combination of angler preference for large, fast-growing salmon, the desire of fishing managers for a predator what would control large number of alewives, and the comparable lower hatchery production costs of Chinook salmon led to them becoming the key player in the species mix of Lake Ontario’s salmon community.  Recently concern is for long-term stability of the predator/prey system.  Therefore stocking levels were very controversial and came under public scruiting.  That is: (1) 1984 – peaked 4.2 million; (2) 1985 – 1992, 3.2 to 3.6 million; (3) stocking reduced substantially based on a 1992 management reveiw; (4) 1994-1996, 1.7 million annually; (6) 1997, 2.0 to 2.2 million annually; and, (7) 1999, stakeholders demand for  a second management review and stocking was only slightly increased; (8) in 2,0o9, 2.3 million were stocked. And, from 1982 – 1999 Chinook salmon represented 32% to 54% of annual stocking levels. In “transactions of the American Fisheries Society in a 2,009 study they state: “Lake Ontario’s large and complex system and our ability to control the outcome through stocking may be less than people think. Lake Ontario fish managers are not convinced a new stocking plan is needed.  It is something biologists and managers have to keep an eye on.”

Jerry's catch

Salmon are heading to Hamilton Harbour once the temperature is cooler in the evening and rain comes to raise the low water levels in the rivers for the salmon to migrate upstream to spawn.  The salmon usually run two days after a heavy rain. The salmon are “stacked” and have not been able to migrate due to low water conditions. In Toronto, the Humber River Dam stairs make it easier for salmon to reach their goal, without making it easier than nature intended.   The MNR and partners stock 1.7 million salmon and trout into Lake Ontario annually to (a) provide fising and support native species restoration.  On these, 85,000 Chinook salmon are stocked in the Credit River.  The Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association  (PCSTA)  crucial role is caring for the fish.  Plus, the CRAA – Credit River  Anglers  Association watershed ground enhances native species and is involved in stocking.  The Credit River begins in Orangeville at the Island Lake Reservoir. If you fish west of the Credit Forks a fishing expert advise is  ” you need to be one part angler and two parts billy-goat.”  The Upper Credit River includes Belfountain Conservation Area.. The Steetsville Dam, and Roger’s Creek are part of the Credit watershed.    The Lower Credit river ends by spilling into Lake Ontario at the Credit River Mouth, known as Port Credit which prides itself as the “Salmon Capital of Ontario“, located in the city of Mississauga, Ontario  One of the best angler spots for the salmon run on the Credit River is at Erindale Park at Dundas and Mississauga Roads.  Bronte Creek is in Oakville, and one of the best spots to catch salmon is where the river runs under Hwy. #5 or Dundas Street and near Appleby Line in Burlington.; and  at Shell Park in Oakville. There is also the Ganaraska (Ganny) River in Port Hope.  There are other rivers, buth they do not get the salmon run as these ones.   In Lake Ontario Outdoors a Fishing Captain advises: ” Knowing water movement and temperature patters is the key to consistent action. Watching and learning weather and wind patterns and their effect can greatly increase the  success rate of the average angler.  One angler already made his catch this week in Hamilton Harbour with minnows. The sluggish egg laying (adult) salmon are too tired to eat so they rarely get caught.   On Thursday, while photographing a red-tailed hawk that dove for a mouse on the railroad tracks, Doug saw a Salmon or Trout jump 3 times like a dolphin coming towards him.   Doug talked to some of the fishermen and this is what they are using: (1) Boat Fishermen are using”down-riggers”:, 6 poles at once depending on people on the boat, they fish  to 60 feet  in lake depth, and some boats troll above the surface with “Lures.”  (2) Shore-water (shorline) Fisherman are using ROE bags, and Pink Marshmallows. (3) Breakwater Fishermen are using Spoon Lures to entice the young salmon.

Chinook Salmon is the largest  Pacific  Salmon in 1,000 rivers and streams of North America.  It’s normal life cycle includes their  being anadromous (migrate into streams to spawn), and, semelparous (producing all offspring  at once and die after spawning).  Lake Ontario Chinook spawn  change form in Autumn (fall) . The growth rate of the species is rapid.  In the Fall spawing salmon deposit eggs in grave nests and die ( well, kind of decay). the Fry hatch in the Spring and grown int the stream. These fry spend a year or more or more in freshwater.   Then the fingerlings migrate downstream.The spawning age varies from 2 to 7 years, but most typically four years.  Chinook smolts spend as little as a few weeks in freshwater to as long as one year.     Individuals usually reach sexual maturity within the first three to five years growing to Smolt and entre the ocean (or in Ontario the oceanic Lake). The Chinook  follow their inner homing device and  enter the rivers and head for spawning areas in the Autumn (Fall) and the life cycle  is repeated.  The Fall Run is robust and deep bodied Chinook who spawn soon afer arriving in the spawning grounds usually in large rivers.   It is the Fall run, that anglers await to catch Chinook salmon and the Lake Ontario record is 28.6 pounds.   But, the Spring Chinook are smaller and slimmer and has a characteristic odor.

Coho Salmon is a major Pacific salmon sportsfish  are stocked in Lake Ontario, and, historically, in  1933  they were introduced when the Ohio Division of Conservation released them into Lake Erie. It was in 1966 that  Michigan and Ohio stocked Coho Salmon which established naturally reproducing populations.  Currently, these low level of natural reproduction is supplemented by stocking to enhance the recreational fishery.  Unlike Chinook Salmon, the Coho habitat spend half of their life cycle rearing and feeding ins streams and small freshwater tributaries.  The Adults migrate from a marine environment into freshwater stream and rivers of their birth in order to mate (anadromyl).   Their spawning habitat are small streams with stable gravel substrates.  The remainder of the life cycle is spend foraging in estuarine and marine waters of the ocean (Great Lakes in Ontario). The three year olds return to streams of origin to spawn and die.  Two year old are called “jacks.”   “Jack” salmon can be half the size of an adult salmon.   In the Spawing phase,the jaw and teeth of the Coho become hooked and they develop bright red sides and bluesh-green heads and backs. The females may be darker red than the males, but both showing a pronounced hook on the nose (snout).   The males show a slightly arching of  the back. Females prepare several Redd’s (nests) where the eggs will remain for six to seven weeks until they hatch ( 90 to 150 days after deposition, depending on water temperature).  The female will guard the Redd’s for 4 to 25 days before dying.    As time of migration to sea approaches the juvenile coho lose their parr marks – a pattern of vertical bars and spots useful for camouflage, and gain the dark back and light belly coloration used by fish living in open waters.  Their gills and kidnesy also begin to change so that they can process salt water ( but in Ontario they are in freshwater).  In the freshwater stages, they feed on plankton and insects, then switch to a diet of small fishes as adults  Large Coho and Chinook salmon prey almost exclusively on alewife and rainbow smelt in Lake Ontario.

RBG Fishway

The next two days lots of rain and colder weather will entice all the stacked-up fish to start the run to spawn into Hamilton Harbour. My Prediction, by Wednesday you will be able to start catching Brown trout, Lake trout, Salmon and more.

Hope to see you there.

By J Darby


Doug Worrall

Getting Outdoors For Mother Nature

Getting Outdoors For Mother Nature

Sunday September 26th 2010

Cliff and his 30 pounder

Mute Swans (cygnus olor) are a very large and beautiful bird. The male is known as a cob and the female a pen. The young are called cygnets.

I visited the family with  the 4 month old  signets and observed the Cob Busking two other swans away that where entering his Families  territory.

The cob chased both swans away and from this point on, this writer feels this family will do well.He is a good protector, and the Pen , very observant and vocal.

Lately this family is going back and forth to la salle park in Burlington. Swans are en masse there presently, pictures to come.

Cliff was Carp fishing this morning, Noticing he had a fish on-line I stopped and help him net, and Haul the Lunker-in.

This Carp was 30 pounds and  took quite a long time to reel -in. Everyday I ride the trails, there is Magic around each corner.

Trouble with waterfowl and fishing line . Sadly enough I see shots like this played-out daily. Most fisherman are able to untangle the Bird………………

cormorant caught in fishing line

Sometimes waterfowl are maimed, or killed. The way Cliff fishes, “from the breakwall”, no waterfowl are in danger.

Most fisherman are Naturalists, while talking with many, they are outdoors mostly for the fresh air and the wondeful environment

around us all. Therefore this small article :

Getting Outdoors For Mother Nature

Take adavatage of the great outdoors

Photography Doug Worrall

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