Fish stocking program boosts Lake Ontario's sport fishing

Ian Muttoo/via Flickr
March 19, 2014

Lake Ontario now boasts some of the best sport fishing of all the Great Lakes. And it’s a big boost to residents in neighboring towns, after decades living by the long-neglected lake.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has a successful fish stocking program. It pumps ample supplies of trout and salmon into Lake Ontario and its tributaries each year for anglers to catch. That brings people from all over to fish the waters – about 2.5 million each year.

The health of the Great Lakes has been steadily improving since the 1970s, when they were all but an ecological disaster.

Today, many sport fish caught in Lake Ontario are not native. Steve LaPan, from the DEC’s Fisheries Research Station, says keeping the lake healthy and viable is a balancing act.

"It’s a bit of a juggling act. Overall, there are some negative aspects of stocking non-native fish," says LaPan. "But I think if you look at the way the lake is functioning ecologically and the economic benefits along the lakeshore are enjoying, I’d say it’s highly successful."

As for the economic impact, the most recent angler’s survey showed sport fishing as a $113 million industry for communities along the lake’s shoreline. LaPan says that’s remained steady over the years.

The DEC is wrapping up a series of informational meetings this week on the state of the lake’s fisheries.