Viewing Trout & Salmon Migration

Viewing Trout & Salmon Migration

History

Before European settlement, the salmon run in the Credit River was made up of Atlantic Salmon and their spawning migration occurred in the fall. The abundance of this fish is illustrated by some quotes from early settlers – “Two persons in a canoe with a spear and a torch will sometimes kill eight or ten barrels (of 200 lbs. each) of salmon in one night”. Other stories report being able to walk across a stream dry-shod on their backs (Georgetown, 1843), and farms are reported to have been bought and paid for and houses built from the sale of salmon. The Village of Terra Cotta also used to be known as Salmonville.

Due to pollution, deforestation, dams and overfishing, Atlantic Salmon were extirpated from Lake Ontario around the 1890’s. The control of large numbers of introduced alewife and other baitfish and interest in developing a recreational fishery were main reasons for stocking of Chinook Salmon in large numbers in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Stocking of large numbers of Coho Salmon and Rainbow and Brown Trout also occurred around this time.

Biology

Brook Trout, Atlantic Salmon and Lake Trout are native to southern Ontario while Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon (together considered Pacific Salmon) and Rainbow Trout are introduced from the west coast of North America. Brown Trout are introduced from Europe. Brook Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Lake Trout and Brown Trout lay their eggs in the fall and do not die after spawning. Rainbow Trout are a spring spawning fish and also do not die after spawning. Pacific Salmon are spawn in the fall and die after spawning.

Chinook Salmon regularly attain weights of 25 lbs and lengths of more than three feet. The largest Chinook Salmon caught in Lake Ontario weighed 46 lbs.

The fall migration, or run, begins as water temperatures cool and water levels increase from post-summer rains. This is typically early September but some fish enter the Credit River as early as mid-August. Most Chinook salmon are 4 years old when they make their one and only spawning run. Spawning males develop a hooked jaw called a “kype” and can be quite aggressive. Fish will also lose their bright silver colour and become very dark, at times turning almost black. The fall migration usually peaks around early October and by the end of the month, most of the fish have spawned and died.

Viewing Locations and Tips

The Culham Trail provides access to much of the river from Dundas Street upstream to just north of Eglinton Avenue. Erindale Park, located east of Mississauga Road between Dundas Street and Burnhamthorpe Road, is the most popular location to see migrating salmon. Public parking is available from Dundas Street at the south end of the park and from Burnhamthorpe Road West at the north end of the park. A pedestrian bridge beside the Dundas Street parking lot allows for viewing directly over the river.

Another viewing location is in Barbertown, just south of Streetsville at the north end of Hewick Meadows Park. A parking lot accessible from eastbound Eglinton Avenue east of Mississauga Road is a less popular spot but also provides fantastic viewing opportunities. Follow the trail north from the parking lot where two pedestrian bridges over the river provide excellent viewing opportunities.

Polarized glasses will help to reduce reflection off the water and improve the chances of seeing fish. The best times to go are a few days following a rain when the river is low and clear.

A video taken in October of 2011 just upstream of Eglinton Avenue can be seen at: http://youtu.be/h4ehj6msLIE.

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