When Do The Salmon Run In Ontario? Advice From A Top River Guide

Knowing when do the salmon run in Ontario can produce big salmon like this.

I have been one of the top river guides in Ontario for over 10 years and I have been following the salmon runs for over 36 years. It’s really not that hard to predict when the salmon run in Ontario if you know a few simple these things.

When Do The Salmon Run In Ontario?

The salmon run in Ontario starting in august but they peak in September and October. The salmon run is triggered by water temperatures and water flows. When the river starts to rise due to rains it can signal the salmon to run up the river. The bigger higher the river gets the more fish will run.

Time Of Year Tells You When The Salmon Run In Ontario

An Ontario salmon caught in late October
An anglers with a late October salmon caught will on a guide trip with A Perfect Drift Guide Company

The salmon have many triggers to make them run up the rivers in Ontario but the biggest trigger is simply their life cycle and the urge to spawn.

They are biologically programmed to spawn in the fall and they look for certain environmental conditions that will finally make them run up the rivers.

Some years those environmental conditions which I will discuss below just are not available to make it easier for the salmon to run so they will eventually the urge to spawn will be so great that they will start their run up the river even in the worst conditions.

Salmon will start getting this urge to spawn as early as July on some Ontario rivers and it’s not uncommon to see some salmon run in Ontario in July or August if the conditions are suitable. This is a time of year when the runs will be small and sporadic and it’s also when the river water is at its warmest so this is not a good time to catch salmon if you plan to release them.

The bulk of the salmon and the biggest runs of salmon in Ontario will be in mid to late September and in early October. Some salmon will even run in early November but this is not normal.

The guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company get their clients into a lot of salmon in late September and October.

River Water Levels Dictate When The Salmon Will Run In Ontario

A salmon caught in high water on the Credit River
This angler caught this salmon in high water on the Credit river while being guided by A Perfect Drift Guide Company.

One of the biggest factors that make the salmon run is water levels. As the river rises the river water that flows out into the lake will flow farther out attracting more salmon and triggering a run of fish.

The bigger the flow, the further it goes out into the lake and the more fish come up the rivers, most of the time.

The increased water levels also make it easier for the salmon to work their way up the river and past barriers. The higher the water levels the further salmon will go up the river and that helps them get into better spawning water.

If you want to know when do the salmon run in Ontario it’s often a simple matter of knowing that many will run up the river after a good rain.

Temperature Can Trigger The Salmon To Run In Ontario

This angler caught a huge salmon in low water
This angler is holding a huge salmon he caught. He timed the run perfectly and had over 300 salmon swim past him while on his trip with A Perfect Drift Guide Company

Some rivers are very large and they don’t need the water levels to rise to get the salmon to run because there is already enough flow for the salmon.

On some of the bigger rivers, they can get warm near the mouth of the river and it can be too warm for the salmon to run.

Once the river cools down enough with the cooler nights we get in September and October that can trigger the salmon to run up the river.

This is not as easy to predict as a big rain which is usually easy to see. That’s why sometimes a bunch of salmon will run up a river without many guys knowing about it.

A good way to know when do the salmon run in Ontario is to watch the forecast and the nighttime air temperatures. It’s possible that the night of a big drop in air temperatures will trigger a big run of salmon.

But, Salmon prefer to start their run at night when the water is clear so it might be the next night after a temperature drop when the salmon will run because it sometimes takes many hours for the temperature to drop enough and if the sun goes down on Monday night and it gets cold the river may no get cold enough until early morning which is not a good time for salmon to enter the river, so they might wait until it gets dark again before they run the river.

Where To See The Salmon Runs In Ontario

Spawning salmon on an Ontario River
Spawning salmon on an Ontario River

Now you know how to predict when the salmon run in Ontario so you just need to know where to go to see the salmon run.

Some of the best places to see the salmon run are on rivers with dams. these are great places to see the salmon runs in Ontario.

  • Ganaraska River at the dam in Port Hope
  • Duffins Creek at the lamprey Barrier in the lower river.
  • Humber River at Etienne Brulé Park
  • Credit River at Erindale Park
  • Bronte Creek
  • Beaver River at the Dam in Thornbury

Fishing For Salmon In Ontario

Be sure to check out my pages on Salmon Fishing in Ontario. I cover information on salmon fishing, fly fishing for salmon, tips and techniques to catch more salmon, and what gear you need.

Some great page for you to enjoy:

Best Salmon Guides I Ontario

Head guide Cody with a large fall run salmon in Ontario
Head guide Cody from A Perfect Drift Guide Company with a large fall run salmon in Ontario

It’s difficult to find good river salmon guides in Ontario simply because not many guides like to guide for them.

The guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company offer Salmon fishing on select rivers in September and October.

Often, the boat trips are the best way to target salmon with them because the boat get you away from the crowds to untouched salmon.

Check them out for your next salmon fishing trip or to learn how to catch these big fish with fly rods, float rods or spinning rods.

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