FISH STORYSalmon Return to the Great Lakes
- a 2008 DVD Release

From the "Outdoor Adventure Canada" Series

"Outdoor Adventure Canada" is a series of 26 programs celebrating Canada's outdoor heritage that were shot all across Canada. Programs for the series won an astonishing 80 international television awards, including 29 Gold & Silver medals, at leading American Film & Television Festivals.

All programs are available only from Goldi Productions Ltd

Show Me All 26 Programs in the Series
Salmon Return to the Great Lakes
Follow the fascinating story of trout and salmon, from hatchery to fishing derby, and find out how, through human intervention, a once terribly polluted Lake Ontario has been turned into one of the world's finest sports fisheries. (DVD Cover, left)



A friend holds up Alex Tordoff's 39 pound salmon (frozen) before a trip to the taxidermist), with which he won the Great Salmon Derbyat Port Credit, Ontario, the second time he has won it.

It is a scene that no one would have believed possible two decades ago, because most of the trout and salmon prized by anglers had disappeared from Lake Ontario.

Today, Lake Ontario has a world class sports fishery, and sports fishing is big business. Fishing derbies are put on all summer long, to encourage anglers to go fishing, and keep spending, while they try to catch the biggest fish. Sports fishing brings millions of dollars into the economies of Ontario and New York State, far more than commercial fishing ever could. As one angler says, it's good for the economy, because "anglers spend a lot of money on lures, and use very few".

Another salmon weighing 27 lbs (left), shows the calling card of lampreys.

Still a problem in Lake Ontario is the lamprey eel (below), which was still attached to this Coho salmon when it was brought in, showing the red sore on the fish, where its rasp-like teeth had sucked out the life juices of this valuable sport fish.

The story of this rejuvenated sports fishery has an unusual twist to it, because it has been artificially created. Virtually all of the trout and salmon prized by anglers have been raised in hatcheries, in both Ontario and New York State, and have been stocked into the lake.

These salmon the anglers are catching are not even native to the Great Lakes. They are Pacific salmon that were raised in hatcheries, and released into streams and rivers that flow into Lake Ontario, for the pleasure of anglers.

They have replaced the once plentiful Atlantic salmon, that disappeared from Lake Ontario by the late 1800s, mainly because dams and mills blocked their way to their spawning areas in the rivers.

Attempts to restock the original species of Atlantic salmon have not fared well, because conditions have changed so much in this heavily populated area

Sandra Orsati, Director of the Great Lakes Fishery for the Province of Ontario (left), describes how fish ladders help trout and salmon get around dams (below on the Ganaraska River at Port Hope, ON) to reach their spawning grounds and the great success of their hatchery program at restocking fish for fishermen.

Huge hatchery tanks, black with trout and salmon fingerlings (above, left) hold the fry until they are released into rivers feeding into Lake Ontario by Ministry of Natural Resources technician Mike Ferguson, at work on the Credit River (above right).

Hopefully many will return to spawn in the same river as mature fish in a few years. In spring, some who came back entertain crowds as they try to find a way into the fish ladder to get around the dam to their spawning ground up river (above)..
Trout are clearly visible in the shallow water as they clear out their nests, called redds, in the gravel of the streambed. Fishing season is timed to open at the end of spawning season, but anglers explain that there are still a few fish spawning, an that they consider it unsporting to cast into the spawning redds. Modern anglers are very aware of the good conservation practices that help their sport alive.
The pay-off comes for rainbow trout fishermen on the Ganaraska, Shelley Counsell hauling in a lake trout in early morning on Lake Ontario, and cohoe salmon hoisting off the Credit River.
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