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Ontario Salmon Fishing

Chinook Salmon 

Chinook Salmon

The Chinook salmon was introduced to Ontario waters in 1875 to 1882 and in 1919 to 1925, and more immediate interest because of the introduction of the chum and pink salmon, two other Pacific coast species, into tributaries of the Hudson Bay and James Bay in 1955 and 1956.

The Chinook salmon is known by a variety of other common names, for example, king, tyee, spring and quinnat. Its scientific name is Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. Oncorhynchus means hooked snout, and tshawytscha is the vernacular name in Kamchatka.

The back of the chinook salmon is greenish, fading to silvery on the sides and belly. The colour at spawning time is almost black on the back and sides. The back, dorsal fin, and both lobes of the tail fin are profusely covered with black spots. The silver salmon (coho), with which the spring salmon may be confused, has black spotting on the upper half of the tail fin, only, and the spots are smaller than those of the chinook salmon.

The usual weight attained by this robust, deep-bodied fish is 16 to 30 lb. Few up to 100 lb. have been taken. The world’s record chinook salmon taken by angling weighed 93 lb.

Of all the Pacific salmon, the spring probably ranges the most widely, from central California to Alaska and south on the Asiatic coast to northern China.  In Ontario they are primarily in the great lakes along with occasional sightings in Lake Nipissing

Chinook Salmon Ontario Range

The spring salmon spend the greater portion of their lives in the sea, where the major growth takes place, the fish reaching maturity in three to seven years.

The streams in which spawning takes place are of large size and good flow, probably correlated with the size of the fish,  since the spring salmon usually
range in size from 16 to 30 lb.

Spawning takes place in the fall, from mid-September to. mid-November, at a temperature range, approximately, from 10°C. to 3°C.

Broad, shallow nests or redds, two to four feet wide, are dug in the gravel by the female in fairly deep, fast-flowing water. By the movements of her body, the female loosens the gravel, which piles up behind the excavation, which may vary in

Mating occurs over the pit of the nest. Milt from the male and eggs from the female are discharged at the same time, and fertilization of the eggs takes place as they fall to the bottom of the nest. In the nest there are successive layers of gravel and eggs, which are usually buried to a depth of one foot, but with the shifting of the gravel in winter, this depth may be increased. It is the gravel that is loosened in front of the excavation that is used to cover the eggs.

The average number of eggs laid by a single female is about 5,000 and these may be deposited in several nests.

Food: The first food is plankton; later, insects, insect larvae and small fish.


Ontario Fishing Magazine