• Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Fishing…, A New Era?

    Posted on May 9th, 2010 admin No comments
    Leeanne with one of 8 sublegal landlocked salmon boated aboard the "Fish Doctor" this season.

    Leeanne with one of 8 sublegal landlocked salmon boated aboard the "Fish Doctor" this season.

    It was back in 1983 when the NYSDEC stocked 45,000 surplus landlocked salmon(LLS) smolts from the Adirondack Hatchery in northern New York into three different tributaries of Lake Ontario(L.O.).  In a lake 200 miles long and 50 miles wide, surprisingly, anglers started catchingLLS and quite a few of them.  In just a few years, I saw LLS up to 13.5 lbs.  come aboard my charter boat, and heard of LLS up to 16.5 lbs. caught, but the fishery soon fizzled, despite expanded stocking by the NYSDEC.

    Interestingly, a variety of different LLS and Atlantics, some from the Tunison lab in Cortland, were stocked over the next few years.  Once in a while a decent landlock(call them Atlantics, if you like) would be caught.  I saw one LLS  in about 2001 that weighed 22.5 lbs.  A NY record  was set by a L.O. fish weighing 24.5 lbs.

    The potential of L. O. to produce trophy LLS was obvious, but it wasn’t happening.  Survival of stocked fish was poor.  No serious research was being conducted, at least by NYS, to determine the problem and find a solution.  The basically insignifigant LLS  fishery continued for years with DEC’s lake wide creel census summary for a number of seasons showing a LLS catch/harvest of “O”.

    Then, after averaging about one LLS per year caught aboard my charter boat, in 2008 that changed.  In April that year there were lots of reports of LLS around 18″ being caught.  During the 2008 season, my charters boated 8 fish that by midsummer had grown to 21″.   But few larger LLS were reported.  Then in the spring of 2009, more reports of LLS…, a number of verified reports of fish in the 10 lb. class, plus numberous reports of smaller fish from 20-21 inches.  By May 1st, this season, my charters had boated 8 sublegal salmon, as many as we caught during the entire 2008 season, and probably more than we caught in the five years together prior to ‘o8.

    When I inquired about this, I heard that the Province of Ontario had changed their landlocked salmon stocking and management program with a rumor that stockings of spring fingerlings in tributaries might be doing the trick.  As I collect more info, I’ll report on it here.

    Whatever the reason for the drastic increase in LLS we’ve been catching, one thing is very obvious.  There is potential for producing a major LLS salmon fishery in L.O.  We’ve seen that it is possible to successfully stock LLS in L.O.  We’ve also seen that the growth rate of L.O. LLS may be some of the best on the planet.

    Sooo…, if it is Ontario, Canada that is producing the LLS we’re seeing, if their success continues, if they expand their program, and if NYS follows suit successfully, we may be looking at one of the finest if not the finest future trophy LLS fisheries on the planet. 

    Very, very exciting!

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