Great Lakes Identifying Fish Species
Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus
King salmon, spring salmon
Description: The Chinook
salmon is silver in color with dark spots. The spots on the Chinook
salmon will generally cover all the head, back, dorsal and adipose fin
as well as the squared tail. The Chinook can be distinguished from other
salmon is by its black mouth and gums. The similar looking Coho has a black
mouth and white gums. Feeding Habits:
They feed on land and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans
such as while young, and primarily on other fish when older. Range: Chinook salmon range from Kotzebue Sound,
Alaska, to Santa Barbara, California. Spawning and rearing Chinook
are found in most of the rivers in this region, with significant runs
in the Columbia River, Rogue River, and Puget Sound. Habitat: Chinook salmon remain at sea between
3 and 5 years. The Chinook choose to spawn in streams that are shallow,
clear, and cold with a strong upwelling of water through the gravel.
Typical Size: The Chinook salmon is the biggest of the
salmon family reaching sizes up to 58 inches in length and a weight
of up to 129 pounds; although Chinook salmon are generally 36 inches
in length and weigh up to 30 pounds. The Chinook has a lifespan of 5 to
Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutc
Common Name(s): Silver
salmon, sea trout,
Description: Adults in salt water or newly arrived in fresh water
are bright silver with small black spots on the back and on the upper
lobe of the caudal fin. They can be distinguished from Chinook salmon
by the lack of black spots on the lower lobe of the tail and gray gums.
Feeding Habits: Coho salmon smolts tend to stay
close to shore at first, feeding on plankton. As they grow larger,
they move farther out into the ocean and switch to a diet of small fish.
Range: The Coho salmon are found in coastal
waters of Alaska from Southeast to Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea and
in the Yukon River to the Alaska-Yukon border. They have been found as
far south as Baja, California and have been transplanted into the Great
Lakes. Habitat: Some Coho migrate only a short distance into good
feeding areas, and stay there; others travel extensively. Coho salmon
from California to British Columbia tend to travel north and spend the
summer along the central Alaskan coast. Most Alaskan fish travel a counter
clockwise path following the currents in the north Pacific Ocean.
Typical Size: Adult Coho salmon usually weigh
8 to 12 pounds and are 24 to 30 inches long. They will live an average
of 3 years.
Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus
Common Name(s): Black spotted trout, steelhead,
silver trout, bow
Description: Rainbow trout have
the typical trout-shape with an adipose fin, and a squarish tail that
has black spots throughout. The rainbow trout has 10-12 anal rays
and a white mouth and gums. Similar
Fish: Golden trout, cutthroat trout. Feeding Habits:Rainbow trout are mainly meat
eating fish. They feed on a wide variety of prey including insects, crustaceans,
mollusks, fish and fish eggs. Range:
Rainbow trout are native to North America west of the Rockies from
Alaska into northwestern Mexico. Introductions have extended the range
to include the Great Lakes region, south central Canada and portions
of the Great Plains east of the Rockies, and southwestern Mexico. Habitat:Rainbows are considered fastwater fish,
preferring the swift runs and riffle areas of streams. They may live
in small creeks, as well as suitable spots in large rivers, the tailwaters
of dams, and in lakes and reservoirs. As trout, rainbows live in cold,
clean, well-oxygenated water. Typical Size:Adult
rainbow trout average 20 to 23 inches in length and weigh 4 to 8 pounds.
Great Lake rainbows can live 6 to 8 years while most small-stream rainbows
only live 3 to 4 years
Brown Trout Salmo trutta
Common Name(s): German
brown trout, brownie.
Description: Brown trout are brown to gold on their back with a cream
to slate-colored belly. Most fish have black, gray, yellow and occasionally
red spots all surrounded by a white halo. This species has a very noticeable
spotted adipose fin between the dorsal and caudal fin. There are no spots
on the squarish tail or wormy marks on the back. These features help
to distinguish it from other trout. Similar Fish:
Brook trout, lake trout Feeding Habits: Brown trout are mainly meat eaters
and really enjoy eating other fish. They also eat both water and land
insects, crayfish and other crustaceans. Range:
Brown trout are found throughout the United States.
They can be found in the Great Lakes area, down to the northern edge
of Georgia and the Appalachians and every state west of Texas and Nebraska
to the Pacific Coast. Habitat: Brown trout prefer cold water with temperatures ranging
up to 79 degrees. Their preferred habitat includes areas of boulders,
cobble, logs, rootwads and overhead cover. Brown trout will feed in riffles
containing rock as small as gravel. Typical Size: Adult brown trout average 14 to 24 inches in length
and 2.5 to 10 pounds in weight. They can live in the wild an average
of 12 years.
Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush
Common Name(s): Char, laker,
Great Lakes trout, gray trout
Description: It has white leading edges on all the lower fins and
light colored spots on a dark background. Unlike other trout there
are no red, black, or haloed spots of any kind. Similar Fish: Bull trout,
brown trout Feeding Habits: Adult fish are opportunistic feeders their diet consisting
of aquatic and land insects, crayfish, plankton. They also eat a range
of fish species, including other small lake trout. They have also been
known to eat mammals that are small enough for them to swallow Range: Lake trout are found
in much of Canada and Alaska as well as the Great Lakes and sections
of the western United States. The lake trout has also been introduced
into southern parts of the United States, but they do require deeper
lakes to find the cooler water Habitat:
Lake trout that were introduced in southern climates
will seek out the cooler and deeper water of the lake. In northern lakes,
where the water is naturally cooler, they can be found in either deep
or shallow water.
Typical Size: Lake trout average between 20 and 24 inches and 3 to
6 pounds, but are capable of reaching 50 pounds. Lake trout are slow
growing and long living capable of living 20 years.
Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis
Speckled trout, spotted trout, mountain trout, char
Description: With an olive back covered by wormlike markings, fiery
spotted flanks, and white-trimmed fins, the brook trout is one of the
most colorful fish in freshwater.
Similar Fish: Brown trout, golden trout Feeding Habits:
In streams they prefer aquatic insects that live
under the rocks and along the stream bottom. Land insects, like ants
and beetles, that fall into the water are readily eaten, as are small
crayfish. They will eat other small fish and minnows but only when they
are easy to catch. Range:The brook trout is native to northeastern North America.
Primarily from the Great Lakes, north to the Hudson Bay and east to the
Atlantic and Artic Coasts. They are also located in the Appalachians
southeast of the Great Lakes to the northeastern corner of Georgia. Brook
trout have also been introduced to higher elevations in the western
United States. Habitat:Brook trout inhabit clear, cold mountain streams and
lakes. They prefer a water temperature of 57-61 degrees. They are rarely
found in water that is warmer then 68 degrees and if temperatures exceed
77-80 degrees it is fatal. Typical Size:The
average brook trout is 10-12 inches in length and weigh 4-6 pounds.
They are slow growing and short lived fish, rarely making it past 8 years.
Steelhead Trout Oncorhynchus
Common Name(s): Rainbow
trout, silver trout, redsides
Description: Steelhead trout are almost identical in genetics to
the rainbow trout. They both have the typical trout-shape with an adipose
fin, and a squarish tail that has black spots throughout. They have 10-12
anal rays and a white mouth and gums. Steelhead are more silvery in color.
Though noted for the broad red or pink stripe along the middle of its sides,
the stripe may not be readily apparent on sea-run steelhead or immature
specimens in clear lakes. Similar Fish:
Rainbow trout, lake trout Feeding Habits: Steelhead
trout are mainly meat eating fish. They feed on a wide variety of
prey including insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish and fish eggs. Range: Steelhead trout
are found primarily in the Great Lakes area and also on the West Coast
to Alaska. They need the bigger lakes and ocean to grow to the larger
size; their size is what differentiates them from the rainbow trout. Habitat: What creates
the difference between the rainbow and steelhead trout is its habitat.
The steelhead are found in the Great Lakes and the rivers of the Pacific
coast. Typical Size: The steelhead trout is like a rainbow trout on steroids.
They have the same genetic makeup but steelhead trout can get 2-10
times larger then the rainbow trout.