Sunday, October 21, 2007

Salmon Running in the Don

Salmon in river just north of Pottery Road

The past couple of weeks I've noticed salmon swimming in the Don. I've also seen them in the Humber. These salmon aren't native to Ontario, they are actually Coho or Chinook Salmon from the Pacific Ocean. The Ministry of Natural Resources stocks them in Lake Ontario for the sports fishing industry. After a lifespan of about four years they follow some instinctive drive and start to swim up a river to spawn.

Unfortunately those that choose the Don River don't have much hope. They have to contend with flood control dams such as the G. Ross Lord Reservoir or weirs left over from 19th century industrial activities. Even if they do get far enough north the eggs won't last because of storm water that scours the river bed clear of most stones and gravel where they might lay their eggs.

The TRCA embarked on a barrier mitigation program which is slowly reducing barriers to fish travel. Some people have reported seeing salmon as far north as Highway 7 so it sounds like it is working. Optimistically it will be at least 10 years before the Don supports a fish population such as trout that travels upriver to spawn. Only the Credit River has reported such success so far. The Don will have to wait a bit longer.

If you want to see them yourself, get on the Lower Don Trail. Travel north of Pottery Road for about 500 m and you will get to a series of rapids. Just below the final weir you should be able to see some fins sticking out of the water. They are best viewed mid to late afternoon when the light strikes the water at the right angle to see them as they float just underneath the surface. If you see any leave a comment with your observations.

Dead salmon spotted in East Don River just south of Lawrence Avenue East. I smelled this one before I saw it.


Anonymous said...

I was with a group in the Don Valley on Oct. 7. Salmon were jumping over the weir just north of Pottery Rd.--about one every 5 minutes. Several others milling about in the pool below.

David Sky said...

We saw a recently dead Salmon this past weekend too, near the horse stables just north of the bridge and parking lot on the road that leads up to Sunnybrook Hospital:

( I've also posted a photo of the progress of the trail reconstruction farther up the river where the path was always very muddy. )