The race is on. Fall is prime time for Brown Trout, Coho, Chinook and Atlantic Salmon to move up through the GTA’s river systems (sometimes leaping over minor barriers as high as three metres) towards habitat suitable for spawning.

We’re kind of obsessed. And we have yet to watch them in action!

So we checked in with Rick Portiss, Manager of Restoration & Environmental Monitoring Projects at the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority. He tracks the salmon’s movement along Toronto’s waterfront and watersheds. He says now is the time; they are nearing the end of the run, having been on the move for the last four weeks.

So where to go? And when? Here are some TRIP TIPS that he passed along on how to catch the fish (not literally) racing upstream. And look, it’s really happening.

Getting there: 

  • Humber River: Go to Old Mill near Etienne Brulé Park (there is a free parking lot.) Fish are also running up through the dam farther north in Raymore Park (near Scarlett and Eglinton) via a fish ladder created by the TRCA to assist with the passage.
  • Don Valley: Head near Pottery Road. (This is the least busy stream for salmon.)
  • Duffins Creek: Head east towards Pickering and Ajax to Greenwood Conservation Area, near Westney Rd West and Greenwood Rd.
  • Credit River: Head west to Mississauga to Riverwood Park off Burhamthorpe Rd.W or there is a great view off a small bridge at the end of Barbertown Rd. off of Eglington in Streetsville.

When to go: When it’s raining or early in the morning. To up your chances, Portiss suggests going just after a rainfall when fish tend to travel off the lake. The presence of fisherman is also a good indicator that there are fish on the move.

Join the masses: The public is invited to See the Salmon Run at Highland Creek on Sunday, October 2 from 1 – 4 p.m. in Scarborough’s Morningside Park. There will be fish and nature experts on site and guided walks along the park to see the salmon swim upstream.

What you’ll see: If you’re lucky, you may even see the salmon (some as big as 30 pounds) resting in the little shallow pools. At this late time in the salmon run, you may see some dead salmon. The parents who make it upstream die usually only days after spawning. Their bodies remain in the water or along the shore to decay and be eaten by other species, nourishing the environment around them.

Want to learn more about the process and the GTA’s river systems? Here is a super video to see how the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority monitors fish through a Resistance Board Weir: