toronto fishing

Someone caught a huge fish amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto

It's not uncommon to see people fishing along the concrete edges of Toronto Harbour, but it'd be fair to wonder if there are any worthwhile catches in the most urbanized pocket of Lake Ontario.

It turns out there are some surprisingly large game fish lurking beneath the murky surface of the harbour, as evidenced in a video shared on TikTok by angler Dustin Pearl, who was on hand for the catch of an impressive northern pike captured from the dockwall of a busy downtown park.

The video was shot on Sunday, March 20, showing Pearl's brother-in-law reeling in the pike, which was caught using just a bobber, hook and a 5-to-6-inch minnow.

A large pike is something you'd expect to see pulled from the depths out in cottage country, but this catch was reeled in right in the midst of the city, along the east edge of HTO Park West, near Spadina and Queens Quay. Streetcars zipped by just metres to the north as the urban angler duked it out with the marine monster.

It was one of the last chances to fish for pike in this area of the lake, with fishing season to end at the close of March until May to allow spawning. This massive pike was only 11 days shy of home-free, but fortunately for the lengthy lake-dweller, it appears this was a catch-and-release situation.

So, no. He didn't eat the fish.

"We don't eat the pike from Lake Ontario," Pearl tells blogTO, adding that "they are 10 to 20 years old and the bigger fish tend to be females and are the ones that spawn and make more."

Mass fishing of this species would harm the delicate balance of the ecosystem, Pearl explaining that "pike is a natural fish species here with no stocking, so if people ate the pike, the numbers would drop, unlike salmon and trout species [which are artificially stocked]."

And if things weren't already bad enough for the large pike with a new hook hole in its face, a decent-sized circular sore can be seen on the fish, which Pearl claims appear to be lamprey bite marks.

If you are unfamiliar with sea lampreys, well, your day is about to get a bit worse. Also known as vampire fish, these serpentine parasites latch onto victims with their concentric rows of nightmare fuel teeth and gradually bleed them dry.

The original post has raked in over 170 comments as of the time of writing, many laser-focused on the water quality on Toronto's harbour, and wondering aloud if anyone would eat a catch pulled from the polluted central waterfront.

While pike might not be on the menu tonight, that doesn't mean people aren't eating fish caught here, Pearl noting that "there is even a sign on the west side of the Spadina Slip that tells you how many servings of fish per month is healthy for your kids and pregnant women."

Still, he admits that the water conditions can be pretty unpleasant, acknowledging that "the water is polluted, but nothing like the 70s. But yes, after rain and such, it's disgusting. You will catch condoms, baby wipes, tampon applicators, etc."


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