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Lake Ontario

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     Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world. Although it is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area (193 miles by 53 miles), it ranks fourth among the Great Lakes in maximum depth. Lake Ontario is similar to Lake Erie in length and breadth, yet with its greater average depth (approximately 283 feet), Lake Ontario holds almost four times the volume of water (393 cubic miles). The drainage basin covers parts of Ontario and New York State. A few large urban areas, including Ontario's capital city (Toronto), are located on the Canadian shoreline. The U.S. shore is less urbanized and is not intensively farmed. The lake's main fish species include chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and carp.

     Lake Ontario is famous for it's fantastic salmon fishery. Among the many species present, the chinook or pacific salmon are the kings in these waters, many topping the scales at well over 30 pounds. With fish nearing the 40 pound mark caught annually. Other less predominant salmon species are the coho salmon, pink salmon and atlantic salmon.

In spring, most salmon congregate off shore feeding heavily on spawning smelt and alewifes. Trolling a variety of spoons using downriggers is the technique of choice for most anglers. The spoons are trolled above and below marked fish usually within 1 mile of the shore. Some of the best spoons are nasty boys, williams, evil eyes and northern kings. Pier fishing can also produce some nice fish for shore anglers. Casting spoons, such as cleos and pixies on windy days at dusk and dawn can be hot.

In summer, salmon move out into deeper water off shore. Once again relating to schools of baitfish. Trolling spoons using downriggers near marked baitfish schools is always a good bet.

In fall, salmon once again move inshore, this time to spawn, with large numbers of them congregating at river mouths. Many boats can be seen trolling these areas with spoons and plugs. Shore anglers cast spoons and plugs or bottom fish with marshmellows and spawn along piers lining river mouths.

     Many species of trout inhabit Lake Ontario, although none is more sought after than the rainbow trout or steelhead. Known for it's brilliant leaps when hooked, anglers can enjoy catching world class fish. The average Lake Ontario, rainbow weights 6-8 pounds, although trophy steelhead weighting over 20 pounds are not uncommon. Open water fish are caught using the same techniques as those used for salmon, with fish moving inshore in the spring and fall, and deeper during the summer months.

     River mouths are the prime targets for the shore angler during spring and fall. Casting spoons or spinners at river mouths or angling with spawn, either on bottom or under a float are proven tactics this time of year. Steelhead spawn in the spring, and many anglers do a yearly pilgrimage to one of the many rivers draining into Lake Ontario. Crowding well known rivers, anglers float fish for migratory trout, with spawn, flies and worms.

Statistics & Figures:

LENGTH: 193 miles / 311 km.
BREADTH: 53 miles / 85 km.
AVERAGE DEPTH: 283 ft. / 86 m
MAXIMUM DEPTH: 802 ft. / 244 m.
VOLUME: 393 cubic miles / 1,640 cubic km.
WATER SURFACE AREA: 7,340 sq. miles / 18,960 sq. km.
DRAINAGE BASIN AREA: 24,720 sq. miles / 64,030 sq. km.
(including islands):
712 miles / 1,146 km.
ELEVATION: 243 ft. / 74 m.
OUTLET: St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean

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Fishing Hot Spots Topo Maps

Lake Ontario - Each detailed map provides depth, contours, structure, boat ramps, and updated fishing information. Lake Ontario fishing maps also include lake info such as gamefish abundance, forage base, water clarity, weedline depth, bottom composition, complete latitude/longitude grid lines and dozens of GPS waypoints & coordinates.
» Lake Ontario Fishing Map

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Lake Ontario NEWS!


Coast Guard rescues swimmer from Lake Ontario
ORLEANS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A search for a missing swimmer on Lake Ontario had a happy ending on Saturday afternoon. Officials say that 51-year-old William Cox was swimming off his boat about three miles out from the Town of Kendall shoreline in Orleans ...
Swimmer rescued from Lake OntarioThe Daily News Online
Albion man found in Lake OntarioLockport Union-Sun & Journal
Happy Ending to Unexpected Adventure on Lake OntarioWHAM
Buffalo News
all 6 news articles »

Ironman athlete Michael McIsaac will take on swimming across Lake Ontario
After a return to the active lifestyle he enjoyed as a teen, downtown Toronto resident Michael McIsaac is looking to use his fitness to save the lives of others. The 32-year-old lawyer is looking to swim a 51-kilometre span of Lake Ontario, in the ...

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

After storms and dredging, Lake Ontario's name is mud
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Complaints about Lake Ontario water quality have piled up this summer like waves on a stormy shore. People jaw about debris on the beach and tree branches in the water, but mostly about mud — discolored, chocolatey, muddy water. The latest episode ...

Students scour Lake Ontario for bacteria
Rochester, N.Y. - A group of middle school students are finding out why Lake Ontario has been closed to swimmers for half of the summer. 30 students from the "Get Real!" science camp - all of whom attend Rochester Freedom School - slipped on waders, ...

and more »

The Globe and Mail (subscription)

Lawyer takes the plunge into Lake Ontario for melanoma research
The Globe and Mail (subscription)
Michael McIsaac has participated in some gruelling events over the years, completing the Ironman triathlon and running marathons. But he has always wanted to do something even more strenuous – swim across Lake Ontario.

and more »

WWF-Canada Blog (blog)

Asian Carp found near Lake Ontario
WWF-Canada Blog (blog)
Recently, two Asian carps were caught in two separate ponds near Lake Ontario – a discovery that is particularly worrisome given that species' notoriously invasive reputation. First brought to North America in the 1970s in a misguided attempt to ...
Two Asian carp discovered on Toronto's waterfrontCP24 Toronto's Breaking News

all 10 news articles »
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