Atlantic Salmon have an elongated body similar to trout. They have dark backs, silver sides, and a white belly in freshwater. During spawning, males are deep bronze and dark brown in colour. The best way to identify Atlantic Salmon is by their small dark spots on back and sides, often X-shaped markings; few or no spots on the tail; when the anal fin is depressed, it extends well beyond the anal fin base.
Most of its life is spent in deeper open water in the Great Lakes, only returning to freshwater rivers to spawn. In river environments, they inhabit rocky runs and pools, and prefer colder temperatures.
Most fish mature between ages 3-5, typically spawn in the fall, but migrations do occur from spring to fall. Unlike many other salmon species that die shortly after spawning, Atlantic Salmon are repeat spawners and return to the lake/ocean until the next spawning season. Often spawning several years in a row before dying.
Adults feed exclusively on other fish species. Rainbow Smelt and Alewife are two favourites. Juveniles feed on aquatic insects.
Age and Size
Can live up to 9 years old.
Adults usually 25-30 inches long.
Ontario record weight is 24.30 lb.
Trolling in summer months with spoons or plugs are proven techniques. Using a charter fishing guide increases your chances success. During spawning time, they concentrate around larger rivers. Float fishing is a popular method among river anglers. Use a heavy action rod with strong fishing line and large net to safely land them.
Fish illustration ©CURTIS ATWATER (www.natureartists.com/atwaterc.htm)