Ontario Trout FishingAurora Trout Fishing Techniques
Ontario Aurora Trout Fishing
Imagine the feeling of hooking a rare specie of fish that is so uncommon that most anglers will fish a lifetime without nary a glimpse of this mystical enigma. The Aurora Trout, or Salvelinus fontinalis timagamienis, truly does exist, but the small numbers and even smaller locations can make catching this beautiful fish a difficult task to say the least.
A remote cousin of the Brook Trout, the Aurora looks very much like its counterpart, yet bears no spots or speckles on any part of its body. Adult fish lack the yellow marks throughout the back region that are characteristic of Brookies, while exhibiting none or very few red spots with blue halos. The back of the Aurora is typically olive-green to dark brown with iridescent steel blue and silver sides and silvery white under parts that are often tinged with pink. Both the dorsal and caudal fins have black lines, while the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins have a white leading edge backed by a black bar and an orange or red posterior.
Aurora Trout can be found in a handful of lakes, but are known to have been native in only two small bodies of water. Whitepine and Whirligig Lake, both located in Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Wilderness Park north of Sudbury in northeastern Ontario, had the only naturally occurring population of Aurora’s, yet acidification of the lakes back in the 1960’s wiped out all of the original specie. (Due to the heavy smelting industry of the time, sulphuric acid, falling in the form of acid rain, would ultimately lead to the deaths of the wild strain.) Some ingenuity and a whole lot of luck, however, saved this vulnerable fish from being wiped out completely.
Before the lakes poisoned all of the fish present, nine adult Aurora’s were captured and transported to Hill’s Lake Hatchery. It was hoped that these fish would form the breeding stock to re-introduce the Aurora Trout back to the wilds of Ontario. The plan was a success and the hatchery was able to breed the trout successfully. Self-sustaining, reproducing populations of the Aurora were reestablished in Whitepine and Whirligig Lake, and the fingerlings were also introduced into twelve other lakes. Of those twelve, two now have naturally reproducing fish, while the other 10 lakes are maintained by the stocking of hatchery-reared juvenile fish.
Certain variables must be met for the Aurora Trout to have a successful chance of living in the wild. The main ingredient for these trout is cold water, generally below 20 degrees Celsius. Areas with abundant upwellings during the fall and frigid water below the thermocline during the summer months are actively searched out. In order for the trout to reproduce naturally, sufficient amounts of groundwater upwellings for nest building is paramount. Spawning occurs in the fall period, and sexual maturity is reached between 2 and 4 years of age. Egg production varies greatly but will fall between 1,300 and 7,000 eggs. If the pH level in the water is less than 5.0, chances of a successful reproduction and survival rates for the fry will be next to impossible. If the spawn is a success, the fry’s life span will range between six and eight years, at which time the average weight of an Aurora will be four or five pounds. The current International Game Fish Association record stands at a chunky eight pounds – but then again, records are always made to be broken!
During the year 2000, the Aurora Trout was designated an Endangered specie at risk by Environment Canada. It is protected under the federal Fisheries Act, which states that harassment, capture, trade and killing in Ontario are illegal activities. The 12 lakes that were stocked with Aurora Trout have been deemed Fish Sanctuaries. Fishing is prohibited in these lakes, as well as in three non-native lakes. Limited licensed fishing can be enjoyed in the nine other non-native lakes, although the use of live bait is strictly prohibited.
The Aurora Trout’s mystery and lure remains to this day, most in part to the hard work of fisheries biologists and the wonders of hatchery programs. The Aurora is finally starting to make a comeback, and that is good news for those who have never had a chance to see one of these rare jewels of the north. So how did the Aurora Trout get its name? As the story goes, a group of Western Pennsylvanian’s fishing Whitepine Lake for Speckled Trout back in 1942 hooked into this new specie of fish. The intensity and striking colours of the fish during the fall spawn were the reason Aurora was chosen when it came time for a name. The Aurora Trout – a wondrous sight for those anglers in search of Canada’s true mystery fish.