Salmon Spawning in Humber Bay Park West
For those looking to add a little dazzle to their weekend, a trip to a salmon spawning area is a true natural wonder. Seeing the bright red scales of salmon as they swish their way upstream to spawn is pretty amazing and will leave a lasting impression on anyone, young or old. And as a bonus, salmon spawn every year so this can quickly become an annual tradition.
History of Humber Bay Park
Humber Bay Park is a real jewel of a find. It was created as a recreational area in the 19th Century, with hotels and watersports quickly popping up as a way for locals and visitors to beat the humid summers. In 1984 the area became an official park. Its unique shape was created by millions of metres of lakefill, which helped create the trails and picnic areas that still exist today.
Over the past decades, attention has been paid to creating a vast ecosystem. There have been habitat restoration projects and an emphasis on letting the land speak for itself. In addition to the natural salmon spawning grounds that you can find, Humber Bay Park is also home to a butterfly habitat and a migratory bird route.
Where to see salmon spawning
Humber Bay Park sprawls along the coast of Lake Ontario. Dividing it into two areas, Humber Bay West and Humber Bay East, is Mimico Creek. Mimico Creek meanders its way through Toronto, with its origins being further north of the city.
The area where Mimico Creek enters Lake Ontario is a weedy area perfect for fish. The shallow water and abundance of shade and hiding spots make it a favorite for many different types of fish, including the ever-popular salmon.
While you can see salmon spawn all along Mimico Creek, they are most abundant right before the waters reach the creek. This is because salmon return to the exact spot at which they were born to spawn. The further up the creek, the less salmon you will see. In fact, Humber Bay Park West salmon spawning viewing always attracts plenty of people for this amazing sight.
Type of salmon
While there are many types of salmon that spawn across Canada, those that make Mimico Creek their home are chinook salmon. While chinook salmon originated in the Pacific Ocean, they were introduced to the Great Lakes where they now thrive.
Chinook salmon are the largest variety of Pacific Salmon. They have shiny, silver bellies and red, purple, and even blue-green backsides. You can expect adult chinook salmon to weigh up to 50 pounds and be about 36 inches in length.
As salmon age, their back colors become darker. In fact, the real redness of a salmon isn’t developed until its final days.
Best times to see salmon spawning
Salmon, like all fish, have specific life cycles. Salmon are born in rivers and once hatched, they swim downriver to live in large lakes or oceans. Once they are ready to lay eggs, salmon head back upriver and will actually spawn, or deposit their fertilized eggs, in the exact place they were born. Once they have spawned, the salmon will die.
With chinook salmon, this life cycle can range between one and eight years. While every year you will find salmon returning to their spawning grounds, there are some years when this is more prolific.
Salmon start their journey to their spawning grounds in late summer and this continues until late fall. The best time to see a large amount of spawning salmon is October.
Other spawning fish
In addition to chinook salmon, there are many other species of fish that inhabit the Humber Bay Park fish farm and its surrounding waters.
Northern pike, which can grow up to 20 pounds, spawn in the spring. Head to the park right after the ice starts to melt to see these fish start swimming up Mimico Creek.
The marshy area of Humber Bay Park is home to a lot of panfish. This colloquial term refers to fish that taste good when pan fried. Examples include the bluegill fish. They have a long spawning window, from May until August. However, they are most prolific in June, once the water starts to warm up.
Finally, if you are checking out salmon spawning, you will often see some brown trout or rainbow trout spawning as well. Their life cycle overlaps salmon. If you’re not sure what type of fish you’re looking at, rainbow trout are speckled, with a slight rainbow-hue of colors. Brown trout, as you can imagine, have a deep brown color with black speckling.
Mimico fish pool spawning areas provide a chance for you to see many species of fish. And because they are often sedentary at this point, it is an excellent opportunity to really study the fish in detail. If you want to add a bit of an educational spin to your outing, here are a few activity suggestions.
Illustrate the life cycle
There are many printable pictures available for kids to color and identify the different stages of a salmon’s life. Adults might enjoy the refresher, too.
Investigate the water
One of the reasons salmon love the waters around Humber Bay Park West is that they are full of important nutrients. Take a sample of the water and bring it home to look under a microscope. It’s always neat to see how alive water is.
Expand the life cycle
While salmon have their own life cycles, they are also an important part of the animal world’s circle of life. Investigate what salmon eat as well as what eat salmon.
Research other habitats
Salmon have a very large habitat. They are born in rivers and migrate to large bodies of water before swimming back to where they were born to eventually die. Learn more about what other animals make Humber Bay Park their home.
Humber Bay Park West is visited by both locals and tourists. Once you experience its biodiversity and wide range of activities, you might be itching to stop being a tourist and start becoming a local. If this is the case, we can help make your dream a reality.