Lending a Hand to Lake Ontario King Salmon Study

Dan Knuth from Utica, holds up one of the heavily schooled, monster spring King salmon found off Niagara Bar in Lake Ontario. They are called “SCREAMERS” for good reason, they will smoke a weak reel drag and snap a line during a burst run, but right now Lake Ontario fish scientists need angler help.

If you fish Lake Ontario, like the Beatles song goes, we all need a little help from our friends – and this is the perfect time to lend a hand … while you are fishing!

The Niagara County Fisheries Development Board working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Niagara River Anglers Association (NRAA) and Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association (LOTSA) want to get a better understanding of the makeup of the large number of Chinook salmon that show up along the Niagara County shoreline every May.

This coming May (2016), many of the three-year-old class of Chinook salmon will have their adipose fin missing (clipped) if they were raised in the Salmon River Fish Hatchery.  And if that fin is clipped, the fish will have a coded wire tag implanted in their head that identifies their stocking type (direct versus pen reared) and their stocking location.  Biologists need the head for the study.


In order to obtain this information, we need the help of all anglers fishing Lake Ontario out of the ports of Fort Niagara/Youngstown, Wilson and Olcott.  We are requesting the head from any Chinook salmon caught in the month of May that is harvested for food and has the adipose fin missing.  Only 3-year old kings with the adipose fin missing.  These heads can be placed in a bag and then in freezers located at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Olcott in specific locations (Fort Niagara State Park next to the fish cleaning station; Bootlegger’s Cove Marina next to the ship’s store; Wilson Boat Yard next to the Gas Shack; Wilson-Tuscarora State Park near the fish cleaning station; and the Town of Newfane Marina (Olcott) adjacent to the fish cleaning station. The DEC will collect the heads from the freezers, as well as analyze the data so that it can be used as another piece of information to help with management of the king salmon program.

This is the last year class of Chinook salmon that were clipped and marked in the lake.  Therefore, it is our last chance to capture this important data to help with managing the Chinook salmon program in Lake Ontario.  Assisting with this program is a win-win situation for all – you will be helping yourself as well as your fellow anglers.  We all need a little help from our friends!

Just a quick comment on the spring salmon fishery in Niagara and Lake Ontario: One of the best places to be in the entire Great Lakes in the spring is anywhere from the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the Niagara River to 30-Mile Point east of Olcott, New York.  This is where the salmon hang out because of the forage that’s available.

When the kings are in, it’s some of the best salmon fishing you’ve ever seen anywhere.  These fish are champion fighters.  Catching a 15-pound fish in the spring is like catching 30-pound fish in the fall, tearing out 100 yards of line like an NFL running back in an open field run looking to the end zone – without any contract disputes or ham strings to worry about!

To find out more information, check out www.niagara-usa.com and click on the fishing section.  A free map outlines all of the information you need to know to get you connected.

Thanks for your help!