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Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is similar to Lake Erie in length and breadth (193 miles by 53 miles). Yet with its greater average depth (approximately 283 feet), Lake Ontario holds almost four times the volume (393 cubic miles) and has a retention time of about 6 years . The drainage basin covers parts of Ontario and New York, and a small portion of Pennsylvania. Major urban industrial centers, such as Hamilton and Toronto, are located on its shore. The U.S. shore is less urbanized and is not intensively farmed.


Lake Ontario Figure and Facts:

Length - 193 miles / 311 km.
Breadth - 53 miles / 85 km.
Ave. Depth - 283 ft. / 86 m
Max. 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.
Shoreline Length (including islands) - 712 miles / 1,146 km.
Elevation - 243 ft. / 74 m.
Outlet - St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean
Retention/Replacement Time - 6 years
Name - Champlain first called it Lake St. Louis in 1632. On a Sanson map in 1656, it remained Lac de St. Louis. In 1660, Creuxius gave it the name Lacus Ontarius. Ontara in Iroquois means "lake," and Ontario, "beautiful lake."


Lake Ontario, the 14th largest lake in the world, is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area. It ranks fourth among the Great Lakes in maximum depth, but its average depth is second only to Lake Superior. Lake Ontario lies 325 ft (99 m) below Lake Erie, at the base of Niagara Falls. The falls were always an obstacle to navigation into the upper lakes until the Trent-Severn Waterway, along with the Welland and Erie Canals were built to allow ships to pass around this bottleneck. The oldest lighthouse on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes was set up at Fort Niagara in 1818 to aid navigation. The basin is largely rural, with many scenic resort areas. A few large urban areas, including Ontario's capital city (Toronto), are located on the Canadian shoreline. In 1972-73, 1,000 scientists, engineers and technicians undertook the most extensive survey ever made of a Great Lake.



Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995

Lake Ontario brochure, 1990, Michigan Sea Grant



Cold Water Species


Lake Ontario Salmon

The Chinook Salmon

The Chinook Salmon, which is commonly called the King Salmon, are typically divided into "races" with "Spring Chinook", "Summer Chinook", and "Fall Chinook" being most common. We fish all three "races" throughout the year with Spring and Summer being the most consistent. Not to mention those are the best times to get fresh Salmon meat for consumption. Salmon typically will make a long first run followed by a second burst shortly there after. At times they have been known to make runs in excess off 600 feet. They average 20 pounds in Lake Ontario, but every year in our boat we push or exceed the 30lb mark. They have turned a grown man's arms into a wet noodle with the 20+ minute fights. These are 1 of my favorite fish to catch on Lake Ontario! They are just flat out MEAN!

Lake Ontario Steelhead or Rainbow Trout

Steelhead/Rainbow Trout

Steelhead Trout, commonly called Rainbow Trout, are an amazing fish to catch. There is no major physical differences between rainbow trout and steelhead trout. Once they are hooked they tend to spend more time out of the water than in the water. Because of this they tend to throw the hook more times than not, but that's OK because the excitement factor of watching this is unbelievable. This is the other fish I prefer to catch when we are on Lake Ontario. They typically range from 6-8 pounds, but teenage and even 20 pound fish are caught throughout the year. These are also known for their tasty meat. So, if consumption in on your mind this is a good one to catch.

Lake Ontario Brown Trout

Brown Trout

The Brown Trout is a fish we typically wont target unless its April. We can stay fairly busy with Salmon and Steelhead, which allows us to leave this species alone. However, there are times when we need to focus on them and April is one of those times. When the waters are starting to warm up they congregate near the creek mouths because thats where the warm water is. During the summer they typically are in shallower water, and have very soft mouths which makes landing them tough. They are a very pretty fish with a brown back and large black dots. They will run 3-5 pounds with anything over 10 pounds being a nice fish. There have been some instances where they have even reached 20 pounds.

Lake Ontario Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon, sometimes called Silvers in the ocean, tens to school up very tight. When you get on one there is always another, as is seen in the picture above. Spring time is about the best time to get into some schools of these, and we usually do. They will hang around with the Steelhead on the surface and can offer some very fast and furious action. They don't run as big as their big cousin the Chinook, but they can put on quite the fight. They range from 3-5 pounds with larger fish come Fall time.This is also a very good fish to consume from what I have heard.

Lake Ontario Lake Trout

Lake Trout

The Lake Trout is an easy fish to target if you are int he right part of the lake, and we are usually within those areas. Not a top favorite on the boat becasue of the lack of fight they put up. However, there are pleanty of people who enjoy fishing for them, and becasue of this we have a pretty good track record for catching them when we have to. They typically hang out on the bottom of the lake and can range from 8-12 pounds. Monsters in the 20lb range are very common.