Where can I fish for Atlantic Salmon in Ontario?
In all areas of the province, where an Atlantic Salmon catch limit of 1 exists for residents with a valid sport fishing licence, this counts towards the aggregate catch/possession limit of 5 for salmon/trout (see page 7 of the Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary). Residents with a valid conservation fishing licence may never retain Atlantic Salmon (with one exception in Fisheries Management Zone 11). Additionally, there is a provincial possession limit of one Atlantic Salmon, meaning that even if a licence holder is fishing in multiple Zones, they can only have one Atlantic Salmon in their possession (including storage). Always make sure you understand and follow all the regulations in the Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary.
Lake Ontario is located in Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ) 20, and anglers can fish here for Atlantic Salmon year-round. Holders of a valid sport fishing licence have a catch and possession limit of one Atlantic Salmon above the size limit of 63 cm (24.8 in), while holders of a conservation fishing licence must practice catch-and-release. Since 2016, holders of both types of fishing licences must practice catch-and-release with Atlantic Salmon in FMZ 16 and 17, where the season begins on the 4th Saturday in April and closes September 30. However, in some areas, fishing is permitted year-round, while other areas are designated as fish sanctuaries and fishing is prohibited. See the Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary for specific information on fishing opportunities and restrictions in these zones. Fishing for Atlantic Salmon in FMZ 18 is prohibited.
If you’ve caught an Atlantic Salmon in Lake Ontario or its tributaries, please let us know! As citizen scientists, anglers provide important information on catch locations of these fish – biologists cannot effectively monitor Lake Ontario’s tributaries along their entire length, and Atlantic Salmon may be mixed in with other migratory salmonids. Note if the fish has been fin clipped – adipose, pectoral, pelvic, or caudal. These may help us determine stocking origin and recapture rates.
Atlantic Salmon have also been introduced into several other water bodies:
Lake Erie: There is currently no fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Lake Erie. Though Atlantic Salmon have been caught in the St. Clair River (Michigan DNR) and the Detroit River (USA news story), on the Canadian side Atlantic Salmon are closed to fishing all year in these rivers, including Lake St. Clair, and the Niagara River upstream of the falls (FMZ 19).
Lake Huron: In the United States, Michigan DNR stocks Atlantic Salmon into various Lake Huron tributaries including Lexington Harbour, Thunder Bay River (Alpena), and the Ausable River (Oscoda). Lake Superior State University stocks Atlantic Salmon into the St. Mary’s River, which travel to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. In the Canadian waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, sport fishing licence holders may take one Atlantic Salmon (no size limit) while conservation fishing licence holders must practice catch-and-release, and the season is open all year (FMZs 13 and 14). In FMZ 10, fishing for Atlantic Salmon is open from January 1 to September 30, with a sport fishing licence limit of one and a conservation fishing licence limit of zero (catch-and-release). In FMZ 11, fishing for Atlantic Salmon is closed all year except for an open season from the third Saturday in June until the Friday before the fourth Saturday in June in Trout Lake, with a limit of one Atlantic Salmon less than 55 cm (21.7 in) for holders of both types of fishing licences. In FMZ 15, fishing for Atlantic Salmon is closed all year.
In Lake Superior (FMZ 9), Atlantic Salmon angling is open all year with a sport fishing licence limit of one and a conservation fishing licence limit of zero (catch-and-release). In FMZs 6 and 7, fishing for Atlantic Salmon is open all year, with a sport fishing licence limit of one and a conservation fishing licence limit of zero (catch-and-release).
Ottawa River: In FMZ 12, the Atlantic Salmon fishing season opens on the Friday before the fourth Saturday in April and closes September 30, with a sport fishing licence limit of one and a conservation fishing licence limit of zero (catch-and-release).
In all other FMZs, Atlantic Salmon are not present and are therefore closed to fishing all year.
Catch-and-release of Atlantic Salmon
There are many great resources that help remind anglers about proper catch-and-release techniques (e.g., Keepemwet Fishing), and the science shows Atlantic Salmon do well when catch-and-release is properly practiced (e.g., see Lennox et al. 2017). The Atlantic Salmon Federation, in partnership with the Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique and the Quebec Government, produced a catch-and-release video for Atlantic Salmon, which can be viewed here.
Remember the basic rules:
- Many salmonids do poorly when angled in water where the temperature exceeds 20 C.
- Keep air exposure to <10 seconds and preferably <5 seconds.
- Use wet hands to handle the fish.
- Never touch the eyes or gills.
- Always support the body when holding the fish.
Consumption of Atlantic Salmon
The following charts represents the maximum number of meals recommended per month. Please note that these consumption limits do not reflect fishing regulations. The sensitive population (*) refers to women of child-bearing age and children under 15.
In Lake Ontario, Atlantic Salmon are listed under the Toronto Offshore Area:
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In the St. Mary’s River:
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No other regions currently have consumption guidelines for Atlantic Salmon.