Few anglers realized the future impact of salmon stocked into the Great Lakes in the late 1970s. Today both Lake Huron and Lake Ontario offer what anglers confirm is the premier inland destination for a variety of salmon species.
The Credit River flows into Lake Ontario 40 km west of Toronto and is regarded as the "birthplace" of Great Lakes salmon fishing. Chinook start to move into the area in depths of 50 to 200 feet early in July. This coincides with the start of the Great Lake Ontario Salmon Derby. If the fishing is slow in summer, due to warm surface water, anglers can run approximately 12 km offshore to the "blue zone" with depths over 300 feet.
St. Catharines and Port Dalhousie
Located on the south shore of Lake Ontario, this area offers consistent action for spring and summer salmon. In April and May prevailing winds push warm water into the area, encouraging the presence of baitfish. Both early-season coho and chinook can be caught close to shore in 20 to 60 feet of water as far west as Grimsby. Planer boards and directional divers are popular.
As water temperatures rise salmon move into deeper water, from 80 to 200 feet, but are accessible after a short boat run. This area offers the longest salmon season on the Great Lakes.
Scarborough Bluffs to Cobourg
This north shore zone of Lake Ontario offers consistent success for salmon from June through September. Moving from west to east the top fishing ports are Bluffers Park, Whitby, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Port Hope and Cobourg. Chinook salmon move into this area of Lake Ontario early in the season and can usually be caught within three to six kilometres from shore.
Scarborough is unique in that the underwater structure features a severe drop-off from 60 to over 120 feet of water. This area is a fish magnet.
The north shore ports are all close to each other. Trailering a boat for thirty minutes can provide easy access to a different port and improved success on salmon.
Sault Ste. Marie
The St. Mary's River flows from Lake Superior into Lake Huron at the Sault. This location offers the most diverse salmon fishing on the Great Lakes. Chinook show up in July, Atlantic salmon stocked in Michigan are present in June and July, pink salmon in September and silver coho in September and October. Protected waters adjacent to the city provide opportunities for flat line trollers in small boats.
The town of Owen Sound is located at the sheltered south end of Owen Sound Bay in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Spring fishing near bottom in 100 feet of water offers an early chance for small chinook. Most anglers prefer July and August for the adult chinook. Low light hours provide the most productive action, using downriggers with spoons and body baits. This port is home to the popular Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular.