Pond Hopping – Lake Ontario king salmon

Pond Hopping – Lake Ontario king salmon

Jun 10, 2012

Eating like a king! Lake Ontario Chinook on a forage feast!

By Mike Pehanich

Get ready for king-size salmon catches this year on Lake Ontario!

King salmon fishing on the easternmost of the Great Lakes has been outstanding in this young 2012 season. But the big news is that these kings are really kings!

On Saturday (May 12, 2012), I joined Lake Erie/Niagara River/Lake Ontario guide Frank Campbell and noted outdoor

Bassmaster photographer Gary Tramontina (left) and Captain Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service take time off from the bass family to check out the mammoth spring kings at WIlson Harbor.

photographer Gary Tramontina at the weigh-in for the 2nd Annual Wilson Harbor Invitational Salmon Tournament while working on Small Waters Fishing’s “Traveling Angler” coverage.

“Now that’s what I call a weigh-in!” laughed Tramontina, who regularly photographs B.A.S.S. tournaments, after one boat registered a 115-pound-plus six-fish total.

A full field of 75 boats vied for the $25,000 first prize, which was won by the Bladerunner team. (Look for details – coming soon — in Mike’s Excellent Buffalo Niagara Fishing & Dining Adventure )

But, to me, the big news was the kings themselves!

I’ve fished for Chinook salmon for decades, and never have I seen so many fish near and above the 20-pound mark anywhere on the Great Lakes this early in the season. Granted, most of my Great Lakes fishing for salmonids (trout and salmon) has come on Lake Michigan, but, trust me, even the locals here at Wilson Harbor were abuzz at the size of the kings that Bill Hilts, weigh-in M.C. for the tournament, announced to the crowd.

Last year (2011), the largest king salmon of the entire tournament weighed only 22.08 pounds.

But big fish for this year’s tournament weighed in at around 29 pounds with many boats in the field topping last year’s winning weight with their “best fish” entry.

This all-woman team just missed the money at the Wilson Harbor Salmon Invitational.

So why are these kings so darned big this year?

As we mentioned in our last post about the coho salmon on Lake O, the king salmon are benefitting from two huge advantages this season:

1)   A very mild 2011-2012 winter extended the growing season considerably; and

2)   The ratio of forage to predator is very high.

I cornered a pair of biologists who were taking scale samples and checking results on tagged fish. Why, I asked, were so many huge kings coming to boat this early in the season?

“It’s the ratio of forage to predator,” he said. “We have very good numbers of forage now compared to our salmon numbers.”

In other words, the kings are eating like, well, kings! And they are growing as fat as Old King Cole in the process.

Check out “Mike’s Excellent Buffalo Niagara Fishing & Dining Adventure” to read about our multi-species fishing adventures in the area – and to find out about local cuisine and the best places to eat while you are in the area.


If you want to get in on this hot spring salmon action on Lake Ontario, check in with the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau ( Niagara-usa.com) or one of the area salmon guides.


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