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Where To See The Salmon Run In Toronto: Experience One of Ontario’s Coolest Wildlife Events In The Province

Experiencing the salmon run in Toronto is one of the greatest fall activities around. Explore these places to see the salmon jump in the GTA.

Salmon Run in Toronto

Each year during late summer to mid-fall, salmon make their way upstream from Ontario’s Great Lakes. They wind their way up narrow rivers to lay their eggs in shallow, freshwater prior to the onset of winter. Watching the salmon run in Toronto has become a yearly tradition for outdoor lovers. And those looking to experience one of the greatest struggles of nature firsthand.

Getting out to local rivers to experience the Ontario salmon run is a wonderful excuse to get out and experience the fall colours of Ontario. Whether you’re an angler or just someone looking for something new, experiencing the salmon migration near Toronto is just a super fun and fascinating way to spend the day. It’s an experience that draws visitors from across the province and beyond.

The annual salmon migration in Ontario is a magical time of year in the Great Lakes. Fascinated people visit their local waters to catch a glimpse of the salmon’s upstream journey. Whether you’re into fishing or not, the fall salmon migration, also known as the “salmon run,” attracts people from all across the Greater Toronto Area.

Watching these powerful fish struggle up the fast-flowing streams on the final swim of their lives is a testament to the power of instinct in nature. The sheer willpower of these fish to swim up shallow waters, leap up waterfalls, and push against the current for hundreds of kilometres is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

When Is The Fall Salmon Run In Toronto?

Salmon jumping in Toronto
Salmon jumping in Toronto – Photo Credit: Katmai NPS

The Ontario salmon run typically starts in early September and runs through until early November. Mid-to-late October tends to be when the season hits its peak. Thanksgiving weekend is often a popular time, but the migration is really based on weather and water temperatures.

The Ontario salmon run occurs while water temperatures are in the range of 3°C to 18°C. During this time, the salmon run sees Chinook, Atlantic, Pink, and Coho salmon pushing their way through the waters near Toronto.

These fish can reach sizes of up to 15 lbs, so watching them leap and twist along the fast-flowing rivers is something you need to see at least once.

Where to see the Salmon Run in the GTA

If you’re looking to experience the salmon run in Toronto, you don’t have to look too far. In fact, the salmon make their way right up the heart of the city on their way to their hatching ponds.

Salmon swimming in Toronto
Salmon swimming in Toronto – Photo Credit: Scott Ableman

Humber River – Etobicoke

The Humber River is one of the best places to see the salmon swim in Toronto. Salmon make their way from the mouth of the river at Lake Ontario. Along their way up the river, they jump over man-made barriers that have been introduced since 2006 when a re-stocking plan was put in place to help save the Salmon in Ontario.

One of the best spots on the Humber River to see the salmon is at the Old Mill Dam near Etienne Brule Park in Bloor West Village, where the fish make a one-and-a-half meter jump to continue their upstream journey.

Credit River – Mississauga

If you’re based in Mississauga, the Credit River is one of the most incredible spots to see the salmon run in Toronto. The Credit River often sees some of the earliest salmon migrations, with some sightings occurring in mid-August. The Culham Trail through the University of Toronto Mississauga campus is a particularly popular spot.

One of the cool things about watching Salmon on the Credit River is that you can actually track the number of salmon using the RiverWatcher app from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. This app shows the number of fish making the swim from day to day. This app also covers the Ganaraska River in Port Hope and many other rivers throughout the world.

You can find more great things to do in Mississauga here.

Highland Creek – Scarborough

If you’re looking for some exciting salmon action in the GTA, the Highland Creek Salmon Festival at Morningside Park in Scarborough might be for you. Highland Creek is one of the oldest known breeding grounds for Atlantic Salmon in Ontario before their habitat was destroyed. But in recent years, conservation efforts have seen an explosion of Chinook Salmon in Highland Creek.

Now, Morningside Park has become home to the annual Salmon Festival. At this family-friendly event, visitors gather to celebrate and cheer the salmon as they make dramatic jumps on their way upriver.

Etobicoke Creek – Etobicoke

The mouth of the Etobicoke Creek near Marie Curtis Park East Beach is a popular spot to see the salmon swim up through the city. The salmon make their way up the creek through Etobicoke and up to Brampton and Heart Lake Conservation Area (which is a great spot for treetop trekking in Brampton).

Don River – Toronto and North York

Believe it or not, the Don River is one of the greatest spots in Toronto for seeing the salmon run. Start out at the Evergreen Brickworks (which is also one of the best places for seeing the fall colors in Toronto), and make your way through the hiking trails along the Don River.

Make your way along the Bayview Multi-use lane towards Pottery Road Bridge. This is one of the best spots to see the salmon jumping in the Don River.

You can find more great things to do in Toronto here.

Other Great Places To See The Salmon Swim In Toronto

Although the sites listed above are among my favourite spots to see the Salmon in the GTA, they are by no means the only places. Here is a list of some of the other great places to see the salmon run in Toronto.

Salmon in the Ganaraska River in Port Hope
Salmon in the Ganaraska River in Port Hope – Photo Credit: Kevin Wagar
  • Duffins Creek in Pickering. Follow the Seaton Trail to Whitevale Dam. You can also check out the Greenwood Conservation Area trail in Ajax.
  • Bowmanville Park Fish Ladder in Bowmanville. The wheelchair-accessible trail through the Bowmanville Park Trail to a fish ladder where salmon make multiple jumps up the ladder.
  • Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough. This Toronto Conservation Area often has a massive number of salmon pushing through the Rouge River on their way northward.

Do you have favourite places to see the run in Ontario? Head over to the Ultimate Ontario travel community on Facebook and join our conversation. Or sign up for the Ultimate Ontario newsletter to stay informed about the best things to do in Ontario.

Marco Garcia

Monday 27th of March 2023

Hi Kevin I am from Maryland USA I would like see the salmon run and can I take home the salmon that we catch over the border. thanks

Kevin Wagar

Monday 3rd of April 2023

Hi Marco, if you have a valid Ontario sportfishing permit, you are permitted to catch and possess one Atlantic Salmon with a minimum size of 63 cm (24 inches). There should be no issues transporting it back across the border.

Happy fishing!

laurna evans

Thursday 13th of October 2022

what about north of toronto. i live very close to lake simcoe in keswick

Kevin Wagar

Monday 17th of October 2022

Hi Laura,

You may have some luck in the Holland River.

Daphne Hood

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Many thanks for this information on the Salmon Runs in and around Toronto. I have lived here for a long time and never knew we had such a spectacle so close by. Stories and information like this are wonderful! Thank you. Daphne

Kevin Wagar

Saturday 31st of October 2020

Hi Daphne! So happy we could help open up some new Ontario experiences for you. Happy travels!