DEC Announces Record High Chinook Salmon Fishing on Lake Ontario in 2017

Boat Angler Survey Finds 2017 Chinook Salmon Catch Rates Highest in More Than 30 Years

Boat Angler Survey Finds 2017 Chinook Salmon Catch Rates Highest in More Than 30 Years
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that Lake Ontario Chinook salmon fishing quality in 2017 was the highest recorded in more than 30 years.

“The New York State waters of Lake Ontario provide a world famous recreational fishery for trout and salmon, and our numbers show that fishing success is as good as it’s been in decades,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Lake Ontario consistently ranks as the most heavily fished water in the state and provides some of the best angling opportunities in North America. I encourage all anglers to fish this magnificent water body for large trout and salmon in 2018.”

As part of the State’s fisheries management efforts, DEC has surveyed Lake Ontario boat anglers to estimate fishing quality and fish harvest annually since 1985. Chinook salmon fishing has been exceptional since 2003, and survey results reveal that anglers experienced the highest catch rate ever recorded during the 2017 fishing season. DEC estimates that Lake Ontario boat anglers caught 96,226 and harvested 53,871 Chinook salmon in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Catch the Drift

Chinook or “king” salmon are the largest and most sought-after Pacific salmon in the Great Lakes and are an excellent fighting fish. Lake Ontario produces some of the largest Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes, with many fish exceeding 30 pounds or more. The fishery is currently supported by both stocked and naturally reproduced fish.

Excellent Chinook salmon fishing in Lake Ontario is expected to continue to in 2018, and anglers are encouraged to head out on the water for a chance to catch the “king” of the Great Lakes.
Senator Tom O’Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “It has been my great pleasure, throughout my life, to fish trout and salmon on Lake Ontario. It is one of the world’s great angling experiences and for those of us who can’t wait to return, we certainly value everything New York State invests to protect its integrity and quality.”

Lake Ontario and its embayments and tributaries support thriving populations of fish, including a variety of salmon, trout, bass, walleye, yellow perch, and panfish. New York’s Lake Ontario waters comprise more than 2.7 million acres. A recent statewide angler survey estimated more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and major tributaries. The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million annually to local economies.

Under the 2018-19 Executive Budget Proposal, Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative provides $19.5 million for state land access projects and $4 million for fish and wildlife infrastructure.

Additional information on fishing Lake Ontario can be found at DEC’s Great Lakes/Niagara River/St. Lawrence River Fishing webpage, which contains a link to the I FISH NY Great Lake Fishing Brochure. You can also send an email to with your name and address to order the brochure.